My Life in Food: Maria Elia - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

My Life in Food: Maria Elia

 

Elia's career has included stints as head chef of, variously, Delfina, The Whitechapel Dining Room and latterly Joe's in Knightsbridge. She is a familiar face on TV in Market Kitchen and is author of two cookbooks, Full of Flavour, winner of the Female Chef Gourmand Award and The Modern Vegetarian, which has just been re-released by Kyle Books.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

It's got to be my knives. I know all chefs say that, but I love them. Whenever I go abroad I pick up a new one. I went to Vietnam in January and I picked up this miniature machete-type affair. It has a peeler built into the blade. So you can peel your carrots, then chop them up. It only cost me £1.50. You know, I don't have any unused bits of kit. I hate gadgets – when we got a Thermomix at Delfina I made my chefs read the manual and then teach me the bare minimum.

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I would probably go to a Lebanese kebab shop. There are loads opening at the moment but I think my favourite is Maroush. The food there is great, if a bit expensive. It does a great chicken sandwich with lots of yoghurt on it.

What do you eat for comfort?

If I wanted something quick, I would have a bit of chocolate and a cup of tea. But if I had more time, a roast is unbeatable – lovely pork belly, maybe, with roast potatoes that are hard on the outside and soft inside. So delicious.

If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

If you have potatoes you can do so many things. Jersey Royals right now, for instance, just those with butter and salt are great. Cyprus potatoes made into chips are fabulous, too. So as much as I love sourdough – the crust, the soft centre – I would choose potatoes, simply because I would have a wider choice.

What's your desert island recipe?

Fresh pasta would be what I'd want. I'd shave truffle on to it and parmesan. It is simple but the flavours are just so intense. And that, with al dente pappardelle, is a perfect combination in every way. It brings back such memories from Italy – tasting those ingredients in the sunshine, with great wine, is such an experience.

What's your favourite cookbook?

I adore cookbooks, I have so many – I'm filling up my whole flat with them. Daniel Humm's cookbook from Eleven Madison Park in New York is great. It is so beautifully shot and artistic. But I also like Greg Malouf's books. His work has a lovely narrative, the stories of travelling and how he came across a dish, a flavour or a person I find really fascinating. I like to sit down with cookbooks and read them for inspiration, rather than follow them as recipe books.

What's your favourite restaurant?

Well, I haven't been here yet but I'm booked to go to Radio in Copenhagen later this month. I'm hoping that'll become a new favourite. In London I love 40 Maltby Street. I went the other day, ordered one plate and a glass of wine and I think I stayed for about six hours.

Who taught you to cook?

As a child, I would go to my dad's restaurant and watch him working. If I didn't go there, I would never have seen him, you see. It was fascinating, as a child, the sheer energy of a kitchen – it was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I suppose I fell for cooking then. But I also picked stuff up from family friends. Pretty much every weekend we would be at some Greek wedding or other and they would serve loads of mezze – that itself was an education.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week