My Life In Food: Sara Galvin, restaurateur


Sara Galvin began her career working front of house at The Ritz and The Lanesborough, where she met her husband Chris Galvin. Along with her husband and his brother, Jeff, they opened Bistrot Deluxe and Michelin-starred La Chapelle in London. She is now the patron of the latest Galvin outpost: Demoiselle in Harrods, which opened in March, designed and built to her specifications.

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

Most used is a big wooden chopping board from Habitat. It was the first thing Chris and I bought when we moved in together 20-odd years ago. It was probably the only thing we bought. Most of it we inherited from the kitchens Chris worked in. The board is massive, we use it for everything. We don't use different ones for meat and fish and vegetables – just this. We just give it a good scrub with salt.

Least used is a newfangled potato peeler that Chris bought last year. It doesn't get used for two reasons. Firstly because I'm quite passable at peeling them with a vegetable knife. And secondly because whenever I peel a potato Chris does that cheffy thing and steps in, takes it off me and does it in about a quarter of the time.

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

There is a lovely shop near our house in Spitalfields called Androuet. They are a very old cheesemongers. I would buy a lovely Saint-Marcellin cows' milk cheese. It's a soft cheese and it is unpasteurised and all things it shouldn't be. You can eat it on its own, you break the skin and it is beautiful and soft inside. I would have it with Bath Oliver biscuits, whose absence from most supermarket shelves pains me.

What do you eat for comfort?

I'm quite partial to beef Hula Hoops, if I'm honest. But I also love ice cream, any of it, almond Magnums I love. It doesn't have to be posh and home-made. I just like to sit with any of it and drink coffee, it reminds me of all the holidays we have had down the years. I love that.

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

I would definitely choose potatoes. There are a thousand ways to do potatoes. I love jacket potatoes most of all; can't get enough of them, the skin, the inside.

What's your desert island recipe?

Well, if I couldn't take my husband and his kitchen, I would keep things simple. A goats' cheese salad with blood red orange ( or any other citrus fruit). It is simple and light and easy for a desert island.

What's your favourite restaurant?

The Ledbury in Notting Hill. I really like Brett Graham and his passion for sourcing the very best ingredients. Plus, he has remained so grounded since he got his second Michelin Star, so the restaurant has never become too stuffy.

What's your favourite cookbook?

There are loads but my favourite would be the Elizabeth David book, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. I love her philosophy of cooking and life, too. I share with her that prizing of luxury and simplicity at the same time.

Who taught you about restaurants and food?

Chris is the font of all my food knowledge. He is so passionate about food. It rubs off. But I also learnt a lot about restaurants in my first job in 1984 at The Ritz. I went in with all my Essex-ness and they told me to tone it down, quite sweetly, in both tone and style. I remember they said: "we have people like Michael Aspel ringing up, you need to speak posh." They actually did me a great service.

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