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
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot