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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe