- The founder and executive chef of five renowned restaurants on his favourite independents
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I’ve moved around a lot in my life, which means my favourite delis and butchers are spread all across London, but I always love discovering new places and people working with exciting produce. I think being a chef it comes with the territory that we want to work with independent producers – you create a bond and become friends as you’re always there with them talking about provenance and what new things they’re experimenting with. It’s a lot more than going to a supermarket and picking something off the shelf, it’s a partnership.
When I lived in New Cross, we were fortunate enough to have Bambuni as our local. When I first went into their deli in Nunhead I was taken aback by the wonderful cheeses, wines and oils lining the walls and shelves. I recently moved not too far from there to Lewisham and I’m still discovering the area a little; I’ve been recommended so many great places so my wife and I are trying our best to tackle the list.
Brockley Market is a great find, it pops up on a Saturday morning in a car park and boasts some great independent food stalls and artisan winemakers, all within strolling distance of my house. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to London Smoke & Cure in Streatham, a small company who specialise in smoking and curing meats and fish. They’re absolutely brilliant and so passionate, I pop in to chat with Ross, the founder, or Simon and look at what they’re currently testing and what they might be playing with. It’s so great how they go out to farmer’s markets as well – I’ve visited them at Crystal Palace – engaging with people and spreading their knowledge, it really makes such a difference. The evolution of taste only happens with a combination of education so showcasing what they do and how that alters the flavour of their meats is brilliant; their five month aged London Standard Coppa is delicious.
I love the dumplings at Seewoo, an Asian Grocery in Greenwich. They have about three locations across London I think, but I couldn’t not mention them as every time I walk in there I feel like a kid in a candy shop! The number of ingredients is overwhelming, in the best way, I don’t think I ever see any clear shelf space as it’s all rammed in there. I’ve developed a weekly ritual of heading to Sillfield Farm’s Borough Market stall to pick up their Cumbrian sausages. They’re a family-run farm up in the Lake District rearing Wild Boar, Rare Breed Pigs and Herdwick Sheep. The beauty of this is that I know how the animals are reared and we all run to nature’s clock. That’s the best thing about working with independent producers – you work with what’s in-season so you get the best available and create a menu around that.