My Life in Food: Peter Weeden, head chef at the Newman Street Tavern

'There's something reassuring about cooking beans'

Peter Weeden started in catering to fund an English literature degree. Soon, however, he decided that his true calling was in the kitchen. His first position in the capital was at Quaglinos, and he then spent five years at Coq D'Argent. After that, he distilled his style at a variety of restaurants, coming to focus on provenance and seasonality in his cooking. He is now head chef and partner at Newman Street Tavern.

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

My most-used piece is my Victorinox filleting knife, which feels weightlessly comfortable in my hand. The least-used is the apple corer that I bought and quickly put into a box, now in the cellar, some years ago.

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

I would buy rice and nori from the Japan Centre. I make my own shiso-marinated plum to make Onigiri with. There is something very settling about those balls of rice; they are as delicious in the morning as they are as mid-afternoon snack.

What do you eat for comfort?

Beans. There is something so reassuring about the whole process of cooking them. I bought some white beans – Fagioli di Conio – from Salone del Gusto in Turin a couple of years back. I was told they should be cooked with just water and bay leaves and finished with salt and olive oil, and I've never looked back. I saved a few to grow and they are now the creamiest beans in east London.

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

Bread. I make bread every day and just the thought of making it brings a smile to my face. Soda bread with butter melting on it, crusty white with bacon between the slices, baguette with saucisson – there's just so much you can do with it.

What's your desert island recipe?

Red mullet with tomato vinaigrette. I make a vinaigrette with saffron, chilli, toasted coriander and fennel seeds, good olive oil and sherry vinegar, then I add really ripe chopped tomatoes of various colours and textures and freshly cut soft herbs to finish.

What's your favourite restaurant?

One of the best meals I've had this year was a dinner at the River Cafe – borlotti bean and tomato salad with botarga, followed up by a thick lump of turbot, wood-roasted and served with courgette trifolata.

What's your favourite cookbook?

The Cookery Year. This Readers Digest book graced my grandmother and mother's shelves, before resting on mine, where it remains a permanent ally. I still have a battered copy at work that has wonderful illustrations of butchered meat, fish and vegetables and lots of good technical information in the back to which I still refer.

Who taught you to cook?

My parents. I know a properly made béchamel thanks to my mother and my father makes the most delicious cold chestnut stuffing, which I reproduce every Christmas. But I've been a magpie, just stealing the sparkling things I have seen in the kitchens I have eaten and worked in over the past 39 years.

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
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    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