The restaurant that will always stay with me is The Dorchester. It was the first hotel I worked in, when I was 17 and still at college. I did work experience as a commis chef and was completely blown away with what I saw, how I was treated and the knowledge I gained in a short amount of time. In the main kitchen, my duties varied from seeing in the fresh delivery of fish with the sous chef (and being tested on what was what – great fun) to watching what the senior chefs looked for in quality and freshness. The amount of seasonal produce that arrived daily was surreal and the terrace restaurant upstairs was the cleanest kitchen I had ever seen in my life. Hats off to them!
The first dish I learned to make was fairy cakes at school. If my mind serves me correctly, it was topped with angelica, blue icing and loads of hundreds and thousands.
The restaurants I revisit most often are probably Cora Pearl in Covent Garden; El Callejon on Upper Street, where I’ll always order the rabbit paella; and Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden.
I don’t get to travel as often as I would like but Spain is without doubt a fantastic place to eat, drink and be happy – San Sebastian in particular, alongside Segovia and Seville. Dubai was an eye-opener and I will always love Malta, but Spain is my destination of choice. I hope to go to Japan one day as well, and I would also love to go to Hong Kong for the food culture.
I have too many favourite chefs to mention all of them. I have adored Telegraph columnist Diana Henry for many years – her food is very well flavoured. I think Jason Atherton is great, Brett Graham is a master, Alain Ducasse is a maestro and Thomas Keller is incredible.
I don’t have a favourite restaurant as such but I do have places that I like to go to more than others. I think Annabel’s is complete opulence and you have to see it to believe it.