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
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
i100Most young people can't
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home