Tom Sellers: The French Laundry-trained chef on hot dogs, jellyfish and floral desserts

 

My earliest food memory Eating hot dogs and burgers at the fair in Nottingham, where my mother and father took me as a kid. It's not so much the taste that stayed with me, but the smell. Standing by the wagon, with the aroma of burning onions filling my nostrils, it really got me. I still love eating burgers now, particularly at MeatLiquor in London.

My favourite cookbook I don't use cookbooks, though I've had a lot bought for me, so I have a big collection at home. One of the most beautifully illustrated is The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller. I worked with Thomas [at the three-Michelin-starred California restaurant] and idolised him and his work. Its ethos is breathtaking. But having said that, I still don't go to it if I actually need to know anything; I use it as a coffee-table book instead.

My favourite restaurant Three years ago I went to a place called Chateaubriand, in a back street of a run-down area in Paris. It wasn't too pretentious, unlike a lot of grand French restaurants. It was all about the food, and it had pacy service; ideal for a chef like me. I remember its almond-and-apricot dessert the most; super floral flavours, light and fresh.

My desert-island dish To survive on a desert island I would need to choose an alcoholic drink instead, such as gin and tonic. I fell in love with it two years ago, and now it's the only thing I drink. I love the botanical notes that the juniper gives it.

The weirdest thing I've eaten I was taken out for dinner in Hong Kong and served jellyfish. It has a texture like cucumber. It was pickled in rice-wine vinegar so it didn't have much taste. I quite enjoyed it actually, though I didn't think that I would when I first looked at it.

My guilty pleasure It has to be baked beans on buttered white toast with cheese and black pepper. I'm always working on food in the restaurant so when I get home I want to eat something simple; it's a massive comfort food for me.

Tom Sellers, 26, has worked at restaurants including The French Laundry and Noma, named best restaurant in the world three times, before opening his own restaurant, Story, in London SE1 (020 7183 2117, restaurantstory.co.uk)

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