My life in food: Florence Knight

Head chef, Polpetto

After a course at Leiths School of Food and Wine, Knight initially worked as a pastry chef at Raymond Blanc’s Diamond Club at Arsenal FC. It was there she was spotted by Russell Norman, founder of the Polpo group, who gave her the kitchen at Venetian-style bacari Polpetto at the French House in Soho, which is to re-open this November. Her book, One: A Cook And Her Cupboard is out now (Saltyard Books, £26).

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

I have two things I use most. A Bialetti coffee pot, which is in use from first thing in the morning until early afternoon, and also my wooden spoons. I use them for everything– stirring, knocking things off high shelves, and very occasionally giving people a sharp tap with. Least used are my oven gloves, I always end up grabbing a tea towel from the back of my apron strings instead.

 

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

I struggle to walk past the stall on Berwick Street in Soho without buying a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tart) at the moment. So I’d spend my money on buying one of those every day for the week.

 

What do you eat for comfort?

In the winter I crave slow-cooked, stewy things. There’s nothing I like better than a ragù that has been slowly simmering for hours, or lamb left in the oven overnight. But saying that, sticky toffee pudding with custard is a strong favorite on days when I feel blue. When the sun shines, then it’s all raspberry sorbet and bowls of ripe cherries.

 

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

I think it would have to be potatoes. Not only are they wonderfully varied but you can do so much with them. They can be boiled until tender and served with butter or olive oil, mashed, fried, roasted, made into gnocchi or even sliced and baked into dauphinoise, added to salads or simply slow-baked and smothered in butter. I’d be so sad never to smell freshly baked bread again, though.

 

What’s your desert island recipe?

A simple bowl of chickpeas and seasonal greens topped with a soft poached egg and bread to mop up all the juices. I could happily eat that over and over again.

 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Who you’re with and where you are play as much a part as what you eat in a restaurant. A little taverna on the coast of Kefalonia called Odysseus run by a mother and son has many happy memories for me. No menu, all the ingredients are bought from the surrounding villages. The fish is brought straight out of the harbour that morning, carried past the customers who sit under the olive blossom, and they serve amazing honey cake and yoghurt for dessert.

 

What’s your favourite cookbook?

My favourite cookbook is my slightly battered and now spineless, Aga cookbook from 1989. It has my late father’s handwritten notes for every Christmas dinner he cooked from 1990. He tried everything to get as things as perfect as it could be. The book is littered with comments like “left leg of turkey a bit too pink” and “potatoes not quite crispy enough”. He even recorded the temperature outside.

 

Who taught you to cook?

My school home economics teacher, Mrs Benson, taught me to cook and trained me in the basics, taking me through to the City & Guilds examinations. She showed me that cooking could be more than just a passion and that I could make a career out of it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    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...

    Day In a Page

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world