Sam Bompas & Harry Parr: 'Arzak's food was so good I almost proposed to my girlfriend'

My earliest food memory...

SB (left): My mother making an amazing castle cake with tiny men descending the battlements. She used every different-shaped tin she owned; it was awesome.

HP: Foot-long fish fingers at Little Chef. There's something exciting about being on a journey and having strange new food experiences which your parents wouldn't necessarily want you to have.

My store-cupboard essentials...

SB: 24-carat gold. It costs around £25 for 25 sheets. It doesn't have any flavour, but it makes for the most over-the-top desserts – it sparkles and is quite magical.

HP: Marmite is useful for a lot of things, such as making onion gravy for bangers and mash. I also have a collection of jellies from around the world, thoughour own Hartley's jelly cubes are the best.

My favourite cookbook...

SB: Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dali. It's bonkers but wonderful: it has all these massive double-page spreads of him eating among piles of frogs' legs and ice swans, and recipes for suckling pig with eels and a Casanova cocktail, which Dali says will give you a hard-on if you drink it.

HP: Any of Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail books, and Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Also, I recently got into Food Processing Technology by PJ Fellows, about cooking on an industrial scale. It's deeply inaccessible, which makes it sort of magical.

My favourite food shop...

SB: I love getting lost in the Whisky Exchange or Gerry's [Old Compton Street, London] which have these vast libraries of rare and obscure spirits. I also like going to weird off-licences in the middle of nowhere which have freaky liqueurs that have been on the shelves for years. I recently found a bottle called Forbidden Fruit, which is lychee- and passion fruit-flavoured.

HP: Pages [catering equipment] in Shaftesbury Avenue always has fun things. Also, Billingsgate Market is incredible: there's something satisfying about getting up super-early to go there, and it has a great café that does amazing bacon, scallop and cheese butties.

My top table...

SB: The best meal I ever had was in Arzak in San Sebastian [Spain]. I was walking past it with my girlfriend and they had a free table, purely by chance. It was so good, I almost proposed to her, but I managed to tell myself it was the meat talking.

HP: Zucca in Bermondsey. It does amazing Italian food and a really good negroni, which is a cocktail made from campari, gin and vermouth.

My desert-island dish...

SB: A burger. Nothing brings fat and sugar and salt and carbohydrate and meat into such perfect harmony.

HP: Ice would be exciting on a desert island – a big block with seafood on top.

The strangest thing I've ever eaten...

SB: The most disgusting thing was a zebra-meat jelly. We were bullied into making it for a TV show, and it was filth. Luckily, I tasted it off air because I probably would have puked on camera.

HP: A giant prawn in Malaysia: the head was the size of my fist; it was grotesque. Because it was so big, the way to eat it is first to rip of the head and suck out all the corals, so we did that, and the flavour was beautifully sweet. After that, we were about to start on the body and they said, "Don't bother; you've had the best bit."

My pet hates...

SB: The term "foodie". You can't have a normal conversation with someone who introduces themselves like that.

HP: People who apologise for their cooking. It doesn't matter what the food tastes like: the gift of cooking and sharing food goes beyond that.

Bompas & Parr are jelly-mongers, food experimentalists and culinary event curators. They will be running the Rabbit Café at Churchill Square, Brighton, from Monday to Wednesday and are creating the world's first walk-in chocolate waterfall at Whiteleys Shopping Centre, London W2, from Friday to 25 April (

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent