Have you ever wondered what a chef cooks at home or if their kids behave any better than yours in a fine dining restaurant? We grill some of Britain’s best chefs for the lowdown. This week, Skye Gyngell.
On Family Cooking
Who does the cooking at home?
It’s only myself and Evie at home now. My eldest, Holly, still comes and goes and I tend to do most of the cooking.
When your children were younger were they picky eaters?
They’ve never been picky eaters as children. I would never let them eat lots of sweets and things with artificial sweeteners in, but other than that I’ve always thought that everything in moderation is fine.
Do you think attitudes towards how we feed our children have changed since your daughters were young?
There is certainly more awareness and studies conducted now about healthy eating for children. Increasingly also, there are a number of role models that younger girls look up to that champion healthy eating, such as Hemsley + Hemsley and Deliciously Ella.
Do your daughters enjoy cooking at home?
My youngest, Evie, is obsessed with Deliciously Ella at the moment and is often trialling new recipes from her book. She’ll put together a shopping list every week for me which will be full of healthy ingredients from coconut oil to chia seeds so that she can make her next batch of pumpkin brownies.
How old were they when they started to get involved in the kitchen?
I’ve never actively taught them to cook, but they have grown up watching me and asking questions from a very young age.
What are your favourite dishes to eat as a family?
At home I eat fairly simply and eat very little meat. I love pulses and grains so I may cook a big pot of farro which will sustain us for a day or two.
Do you have any favourite home cookbooks, or do you just wing it?
I love Elizabeth David cookbooks, her recipes are timeless.
You’ve lived in the UK a long time. Anything you particularly miss about the food scene in Australia?
I think Australians are very food savvy and have been for a long time now. Growing up there were an abundance of little restaurants serving good healthy food, fresh coffee and fresh juices on my doorstep and when I first came to London I really missed these.
Do many people bring children to your new restaurant, Spring?
Yes, Spring is somewhere where you can bring the whole family. We’ve just launched The Salon at Spring too, and I love to see little kids running around in there as if it’s their own little garden.
Do you think fine-dining restaurants should be child free?
Not at all – I think it’s good for children to be exposed to that environment from a young age.
Do you think either of your daughters will follow you into the restaurant business?
Neither of my daughters has expressed that they want to follow me into the restaurant industry, they are both super interested in fashion, and are constantly teaching me things, which is great. I’m glad they are different and are pursuing careers in something they love.
Restaurants kitchens are often portrayed as very male dominated macho environments. Do you think it’s changing?
Yes. There’s still a long way to go but the success of high profile female chefs such as Ruth Rogers and Angela Hartnett is providing a role model for girls who can now realistically see cooking as a sustainable career path.
Do you eat out as a family or avoid restaurants when off duty?
Between Holly, Evie and I we have such busy schedules, but on the occasions where we do get time to enjoy a meal out I go to the River Café for special occasions, or The Brackenbury. They are both entirely different, but I feel at home in both.
What do you think of Britain’s separate kids menu culture?
I don’t think kids should have to be restricted to a kids menu. The more they try and are exposed to at a young age, the less picky they will be in later life.
Top three places to eat out with your family?
The River Café has always been a favourite and it’s not far from my home in Shepherd’s Bush. I’m also really loving Brunswick House and Lyles at the moment.
Skye Gyngell trained in Paris before moving to London to work at The French House and The Dorchester, under Anton Mosimann. She became head chef at the Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries Café and opened Spring at Somerset House in 2014. Skye Gyngell has just released her fourth cookbook, Spring, published by Quadrille (Photography Andy Sewell).