19th December 2016
Words: James Hansen, Killian Fox, Adam Park
Photographs: Yousef Eldin, Mónica R Goya, Steve Ryan, Dan Dennison, Noemie Reijnen, Laura McCluskey, Emile Dinneen, Elliot Shephard
“It was the first date with my ex-girlfriend. I was 23. We went to the Whitstable Oyster Company. She ordered champagne and oysters. I tried one oyster and wasn’t sure about it at all, this snotty crustacean – it was the most alien thing I’d ever eaten. Then I tried another one and for some reason it had the magic formula. It released some mechanism in my brain. All of a sudden I became so open-minded about everything. I figured that if I could love an oyster, surely I could love everything else that hadn’t seemed attractive to me before.”
So every dish you make at home is French?
“Yes, 100%. It’s just to preserve memories and a sense of connection. I don’t have so many French friends here. French people are always complaining about everything. If I live here and I’m quite happy about it, I don’t want to chat about how much better it is in France. But I like to remember where I’m from and food is a simple way of doing that.”
“My first impressions of David Everitt-Matthias hit me before I’ve even met him. We are slightly delayed getting to our workplace interview with the chef-owner of Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham, so I ring ahead and ask the man who answers to inform David that we’re running five or 10 minutes late. “You’re already 10 minutes late,” the man replies tersely. Taken aback, I mumble something about roadworks and Google Maps misdirections. Then I hang up, feeling like a schoolboy whose excuse about homework has just been blown out of the water…”
“There’s nothing worse… I did it for the first two years at Bread Ahead, having vowed never to work nights again after St John. There are some benefits to it – driving home on your motorbike and watching the sun rise is pretty good, but after a couple of years, pff. Another sunrise? Fuck it.”
Margot: …The first dish Fergus ever cooked me was just normal spaghetti with cabbage and truffle oil and parmesan. I just thought, god he’s cool [laughs].
Did you reciprocate?
Margot: I’d cooked for him already: salt cod potato bake.
Did it go down well?
Fergus: Very well.
Margot: You can’t go wrong with salt cod, can you? I think there’s a lot of power in food to make people like you, to make friends. If you’re all sitting around starving and you butter up some bread and serve a bit of salt cod potato bake, everyone’s like, “Oh she’s really nice.” Friendship’s got to go further than that, of course, but it’s a good starter.
“I was at a beach party in a place called Zicatela. Someone gave me this disgusting drink and I was like, “Ugh, what’s that?” It was mezcal. I asked if you could get good mezcal and we ended up walking through the jungle to a little shack and buying a whole jerrycan for 100 pesos – about £4 – and taking it back to the party. It was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted – like a crazy 3-D tequila.”
“I’m lucky. My perfect breakfast is the one I eat almost every day. Coffee, always coffee (made in an Aeropress, black). Two slices of sourdough toast. Unsalted butter, which must not melt away. On the final half-slice, I might have some marmalade. A coffee cup full of whole-milk yoghurt sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and a piece of fruit (ideally a blood orange).”
“Why is it important to practice fermentation? Because we’ve allowed our food to become decontextualized, biologically and geographically, and we need to reconnect… I think people are starting to recognise what we’ve lost. We’re producing food that is nutritionally diminished by methods that are environmentally destructive, and our economic bases have been decimated by that process.”
“I moved to Berlin for two years to go to art school and I really fell in love with food, even though I was very poor. If I had 10 kroner I’d buy noodles or a can of corn for 5 kroner to fill my stomach, then I’d go to the market and buy one slice of truffle salami, one small cube of parmesan, just to end the meal with something really good. So I’d be full of noodles but my brain would be happy with the taste of the good stuff and I could imagine I was full of the good stuff. I was that kind of student.”
Anna has fond, honest words for a place a stone’s throw from her rambling house. “One very local to us is The Griffin Inn, and although the landlord – a completely lovable, bitingly bright, occasionally offensive eccentric – tends to spit feathers at the vacuum-packed, lycra clad fashions of cycling, we can (and often do in the warmer months) cycle there, eat drink and be merry, and then weave our way back home. The food is seasonal, ingredients sourced locally and the menu always offers deep comfort and joy.”
Konstantin: Do you remember that time we went to Spain?
Manuela: Oh my god.
“It’s very simple, so easy to make. We serve poached rhubarb with breakfast and save the syrup, otherwise it would be thrown away. Cocktails are just the best thing for a gathering. Don’t give your guests a choice; as they arrive, just hand them a cocktail. A couple of these before dinner gets the conversation going.”
“I remember watching the judges with our cheese and they were being so slow. My heart was leaping about. I don’t know what I must have looked like – I was wearing red sparkling boots and a large flower in my hair. They kept having to remind me that they weren’t finished yet. They smelled the cheese and turned it around. Eventually I saw them reach out and put a gold sticker on it. Regina’s cheese had won! It was an incredible moment.”
“It’s really hard. I am responsible for other people’s wages. It’s scary and I have really bad days – I lose faith sometimes. Not faith, motivation. It’s important that people know it’s not easy. I love that Netflix series Chef’s Table. They talk about the down period too, that it’s not all roses. It resonated with me. People always see the great side – it’s all constantly Instagram, always good. It’s not: it’s a hard slog. I started Newton & Pott with absolutely zilch – on a credit card, which I don’t advise. I’ve been slowly churning away and it’s grown very organically. It feels like a very long time to me because I still don’t pay myself a wage. My husband supports me. One day I will pay myself, I’m sure of it. Well, I’m banking on it…”
“It’s never too early to drink wine, says Eduard Tscheppe, who, with his wife Stephanie, produces extraordinary natural wine here under the name Gut Oggau. After all, he adds, your taste buds are at their most alert in the morning. He pours, we drink, the crystalline nectar shimmers on our palate; he pours again. The sun is out, the day is warm, a huge stork perches imperiously in the chimneypot and rattles its beak.”
“I love cookbooks but I get frustrated. The curmudgeon in me is going to come out now. All the cookbooks these days are obsessed with health. It’s all about using your Nutribullet to best effect and juicing up grass – I’m a bit cynical about that now. I think it’s a real fad. When you see them all on the table in a bookshop, it feels like we’re being attacked. I’m going to bring out a book called Just Add More Butter…”
“We don’t hold back. Cheek, tongue, eyes, brain, intestines, throat: all these are fished out of bubbling vats, incorporated into tacos and deposited on our plates. Some are definitely more appealing than others. I’ve had brains twice now and, to be honest, that’s two times too many. Swallowing the eyeballs also required a certain fortitude.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed our trawl back through 2016. If there are any Gannet moments that have stuck with you over the year, do let us know via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #Gannet2016. Here’s to next year, and another 12 months of culinary memories yet to be made.
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