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Allegra McEvedy: My Loves & Hates

Pigs

My restaurant Blackfoot in Exmouth Market is not exclusively porcine but it’s certainly pork-centric. I’ve always liked pigs, both emotionally and to eat, so I jumped at the chance to open a place which celebrates everything they’re about. We’re currently serving a pork rib-eye which is the most extraordinary piece of meat.

Negroni

I couldn’t get through life without negroni – in fact, I can’t get through a week without one! It’s just the perfect balance of bitter and boozy with a nice touch of sweetness.

White Truffles

The best thing in the world. The taste of them makes me weak at the knees and I literally shed a tear when I tried them in Milan. It was a simple pasta dish with truffles shaved on top – this happened about eight years ago and I’ve never had another experience like it. I think food that can make you cry has to be in my top five!

Szechuan Peppercorns

A relatively new ingredient but they’re such fun. If you pop one in your mouth it feels a bit like you’ve just been to the dentist – they’re numbing, a little bit hot and a little bit spicy. I think we’ve finally mastered how to use cumin in this country, and now this spice needs to start making its way into everyone’s larders.

British Vegetables

When I was a chef-in-training it was all about petit pois, beans flown in from other countries and lots of ‘froo froo’veg – I’m so glad it’s changed now. I work really closely with our vegetable supplier in the restaurant and always get emails from him asking if I want any kelp from the Irish sea or purple kale sprouting tops. It’s great that we can grow good veg – we may not have the sun but we’ve got the rain and the soil, which produces some great stuff.

White Chocolate

It isn’t actually chocolate, just a consolidation of butter and fat with no cocoa solids in sight. When I was a young chef I had to ganache an entire wedding cake with it, but because white chocolate has such a high fat content it kept splitting. It took me all night to finish and I’ve never liked it since!

Truffle Oil

There are some genuine truffle oils out there but they tend to cost a bomb. Most of the affordable oils have never seen a truffle, but are just infused with loads of flavours to smell like them. I’ve become so sensitive to it that I can detect a cheap oil from across a restaurant floor!

White Pepper

When I was training at Le Cordon Bleu they were always putting white pepper in everything. It’s black pepper with the dark outer husk removed, which is where I think all the flavour comes from. I never understood why you would remove the tastiest part!

Lazy Writing

On menus, words like ‘selection’, ‘platter of’ and ‘bed of’ just make my skin crawl. It’s the same with recipes – you put something in the oven then take it out, you don’t ‘place’ and ‘remove’! And why does there have to be a vegetarian ‘option’ rather than a ‘dish’? It just makes people feel excluded!

A Male Dominated Food Industry

Most of the people cooking in restaurants, on television or in the media are still blokes. It’s not as bad as when I first went into cooking, but it’s nowhere near as better as I hoped it would be. Women tend to be more sensitive, and you do have to have thick skin to get through a kitchen service, but there’s no reason why it’s still so inbalanced.

Guilty Pleasure…

Whenever I’m writing my books I usually spend hours working at a time – whenever this happens I have to have a pack of Haribo Tangfastics next to me. They’ve got just the right amount of sharpness and the chewing helps keep me awake!

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