Expert view

Typical Americans! When I went to the US with my son recently, we saw these two ladies sitting at their dinner.

They tasted their food and one of them said to the other: this chef is using salt in his cooking! As if it was an evil thing to do. But this is how things are becoming in Britain now, too: we don't really understand that a good diet has a balance to it. You must have salt, like anything else. It is an essential thing.

Still, too much can also be bad. I remember when I opened my first restaurant in the UK, Les Quat'Saisons. I served these two businessmen a beautiful salad with duck liver and gizzards, and a Jerusalem artichoke mousse. There was a wonderful moment of silence while they looked at it. And then they jumped on the salt and the pepper and murdered my food!

It's not as bad as it was then, but so many people still put too much on their food at the table. There are thousands of other catalysts of flavour – sugar and bitter and sour and acid and herby and spicy. But for some kinds of cooking, salt will always be essential. You need it. Not much of it, but you need it.

The writer is owner and chef at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons