6th June 2016
Interview: Killian Fox
My first meal at La Grenouillère in France three years ago was unforgettable – stunning food in a magical setting with really great company. The guy who runs it, Alexandre Gauthier, does really out-there food. I didn’t expect to like it but it completely blew me away. For one dish, he got a bush of juniper branches, put a whole lobster tail inside it and set the branches on fire, so the lobster absorbed all the juniper smoke. The bush was still a little bit on fire when they served it.
I had (and always will have) a soft spot for traditional English puddings – sticky toffee pudding, steamed pudding. I think you have to be English to really appreciate them.
Patience. You can get excited about a dish and want to release it straight away, or you can take your time and make sure you really get it perfect before putting it out. Also, patience with people is incredibly important, and it’s something a lot of chefs lack – understandably because you’ve got to get things done in a hurry and there’s very little room for mistakes, but I think it’s important.
I like to think that my flatmate and I make a mean apple crumble.
I often like to listen to hip hop – Mos Def or Common – or something a bit more chilled like Bon Iver. Recently I’ve been enjoying Dustin Tebbutt, whose music is on our playlist at Portland and is incredibly relaxing.
I love alliums and look forward to the arrival of grelot onions, tropea onions, calcots and young garlic. I also use a lot of roscoff onions as I adore the sweetness – I put a tartare of ox heart on the menu which came with a roscoff onion jam.
A sharp knife. I currently don’t have one at home and it drives me crazy when I try and cook.
Two books by Jane Grigson: Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery and English Food. You read her recipes and think, oh I could do that. They’re very simple and very appealing. Also, Fergus Henderson’s The Complete Nose to Tail is very inspiring for home cookery – it always make me want to cook when I read it.
When seasoning dishes I always to try achieve greater depths of flavour by looking to add salted or salty-tasting products as opposed to just using plain salt. For example I might use a range of soy sauces, misos or fermented fish sauces to season vegetables. And recently I have been using a salted and dried beef heart/ham to season meat dishes. When we are prepping our fish we always try to save the eggs, which we then cure and dry, and sometimes use as a seasoning grated over fish or seafood dishes. The possibilities are endless.
Indian food – there’s so much to discover. And I could happily be vegetarian and eat Indian food for the rest of my life.
Andouillette. My ex-girlfriend’s father used to cook it on an open fire in his living room in France. I had to be very polite and eat everything that was given to me, but andouillette made me sick, I couldn’t stomach it. It’s made from stomach lining and tripe and the smell is worse than the taste. The other thing I don’t like is sea urchin.
I recently rewatched True Romance. There’s quite a cute scene when the girl comes into the cinema, he’s watching a film, she spills popcorn all over him. Then she suggests they go get pie together.
The Camberwell Arms does a really great Sunday lunch. It’s just simple cooking with really great ingredients – a bit like eating at home if your mum was a really good cook. I usually have a roast of some kind and a hearty English pudding.
Overly formalised service where the staff aren’t allowed to express themselves or show any signs of having a soul.
I eat out all the time – I must spend half my salary in other people’s restaurants. Last time in New York, I went to Eleven Madison Park by myself – that was quite extravagant. The night after I went to probably my favourite restaurant in the world, Momofuku Ko. I sat at the counter and had the tasting menu, about 20 courses. I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to eat by yourself.
When I wake up I always have a coffee and some sort of liquid fruit/vegetable concoction. I rarely eat in the mornings although I know I should. I have a plate of food everyday at work at 10.45am which could be described as a late breakfast or an early lunch depending on which way you look at it.
Portland is at 113 Great Portland St, London W1W 6QQ; www.portlandrestaurant.co.uk
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