You have been credited as the 'godfather of fusion'. Where has this come from?
I was the first non-Asian chef (and by that I mean S E Asia, India and Pakistan, China, Korea and Japan) to use many ingredients from these parts of the world in my cooking here in London. I moved here in1989 and back then the food scene was quite different to how it is today. My cooking style was then, and still is, based around ‘fusing’ flavours and ingredients from several cuisines – I’ve always been inquisitive.

 

You have done lots of travelling. What country proved the most inspirational for you?
The top three are Malaysia, Japan and Turkey. The former for its blend of cuisines (Malay, Chinese and Indian), Japan for its rigidity and fastidious seasonality, and Turkey for the variety of produce and breadth of their repertoire.

 

What type of food do you enjoy cooking the most?
With winter fast approaching it’ll be slowly braised joints, stews and hearty soups. But my go-to meal is always the salad, and these can be thrown together in summer or winter. They’re an interesting way to provide a lot of texture and flavour in a meal if you’ve an active palette and I like the casualness of them.

 

 

 

You've done so much in your culinary career. What has been a personal highlight for you?
I founded a charity event called ‘Who’s Cooking Dinner?’ which raises funds for Leukaemia – over £5million so far. My sister Tracey had acute myeloid leukaemia and I was lucky enough to be a bone marrow donor in 1995. Tracey is alive and well and that’s due to ongoing medical research.

 

The food industry has changed so much in the last 20 years, in particular the wave of healthy eating. Where do you see it going in the next few years?
It’ll remain a wonderful shifting balance of healthy and excessive, regional and imported, seasonal and preserved. If the restaurants were all the same it’d soon become quite dull eating out. Hence a quinoa tofu salad one day and smoked pork ribs the next!

 

What's your favourite part of the upcoming festive season? Do you do the cooking on Christmas Day?
The break from Christmas Eve – in many ways this is the best day of the year as it has no stress and plenty of promise. I’ll be in New Zealand this Christmas, working in my restaurants there, and I’ll help my partner cook a family dinner of anywhere between 10-20 people, which I love. It’s summer there then so a barbecue will be in use.

 

 

What is your favourite appliance to use?
I have the best oven ever – it’s a very contemporary 90cm Fisher & Paykel (OB90S9MEPX3), with a brilliant rotisserie and it is huge. It’s wall-mounted as I prefer that to stooping down (as I have to in my restaurants) and looks smart and sharp. It self cleans and holds a huge amount of food, a large turkey cooks beautifully in there or two large roasting dishes side by side.

 

What recipes in particular does it help with?
I’m yet to find something it doesn’t help with. I like to bake and my biscuits and cakes always come out evenly cooked. Slow braised shoulder of lamb doesn’t dry out, nuts are toasted golden and cauliflower cheese is crisp and golden. My mother's pavlova works brilliantly well (thanks mum) and so does Dad’s soufflé omelette.


Have you got any exciting plans for 2016?
A new book out in April and my restaurant The Providores turns 15.

Article by: EKBB