I love Chishuru in Brixton. Joké Bakare, the chef patron, is an incredibly talented cook, constantly pushing and evolving her own expression of West African cuisine. It’s utterly thrilling, and absolutely delicious, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I’m in two minds about the capital’s post-lockdown restaurant scene. On the one hand, conditions are tough. This city has never been more expensive, ingredient costs are skyrocketing week on week, and lots of people are struggling for work. On the other hand, we’ve never had a more engaged and open-minded audience to cook for, at least not in my professional life. People love restaurants of all different types, and not just for occasional special treats, but as an essential and redeeming aspect of urban life. I’m convinced we’ll find a way to make it work. We always do.
My most memorable meal was at Arpège in Paris. I’d been cooking a dinner the night before, and me and the team got really hammered on leftover red wine by the banks of the Seine. I’d planned to get up early before lunch the next day to find a smarter jacket somewhere, but overslept and ended up rocking up for my table looking somewhat worse for wear in filthy jeans and a white t-shirt – the one clean item of clothing I had in my possession. Imagine my horror as, shortly after being seated, Alain Passard explodes out of the kitchen and comes over to the table, bellowing “What is this! How did you let him in dressed like this?” to his team. My heart was in my mouth. Then he winked, patted me on the back, bade me welcome, and returned to his kitchen to oversee 18 courses of the most sublime cooking I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. A beautiful man.
My idea of a perfect Sunday is kicking a ball about with my kids, cooking lunch as a family – they’re very enthusiastic bakers – then collapsing in front of a film on a big screen.