Chef Revelations – David Eyre

24 February 2012
Chef Revelations – David Eyre

What was your best subject at school?
Maths, physics and art (in that order)

What was your first job in catering?
Commis waiter at Smith's restaurant, Covent Garden in 1984 (with Graham Norton who started there, doing the same, on the same week)

What do you normally have for breakfast?
Coffee and soon afterwards, a cigarette (unless I'm on holiday when I'll greedily eat a substantial worker's breakfast)

What do you do to relax?
Lie down on the sofa; cook at home; potter in my workshop

What's your favourite hotel?
Kipungani, Lamu island, Kenya - where there is no hot water, no windows or doors in any of the dozen or so bandas and no menus - but huge amounts of everything else that is ordinary, lovely and really important when you want to be far away from all that is London

What's your favourite drink?
Guyanese Eldorado Rum - especially the 12 year old. Failing that, Famous Grouse Scotch whisky

What is your favourite cuisine?
Portuguese - especially from the Alentejo

Are there any foods that you refuse to cook with?
Chicken, and eggs, that are not (properly) free-range. "Baby" vegetables - they don't taste as good as the adult ones

Are the any flavour combinations that you detest?
Any of the absurd molecular frivolities

How would you describe your desk?
It's made of stainless steel and incorporates a fridge; and on it are a couple of knives, a nylon chopping board and some food ingredients and garnishes

Which person in catering have you most admired?
No one especially, but any of the following: Simon Hopkinson, Joyce Molineux, Franco Taruschio, Shaun Hill, Alastair Little, Rowley Leigh, Rose Gray

Describe your ultimate nightmare?
Having to cook someone else's idea of food that was the opposite of my own

Tell us a secret…
Almost all chefs lust after a fatty doorstep sandwich when they get home after a long double shift

What was your first job?
As the mate and dogsbody to a very talented African welder in the sugar factory workshop, on the sugar plantation where I lived in Malawi

What irritates you most about the industry?
Where to start? The (still after all these years) low datum level of quality everywhere. Chefs - and restaurateurs - who have multiple "units" but are nowhere near them. Stupid show-off cooking. The ubiquitous and shameful product endorsements of gadgets, ready meals and bottled sauces and condiments by our brethren. We haven't time to discuss TV food programming

What's your favourite book?
Much Ado About Dinner by Margaret Visser

David Eyre, executive chef, Eyre Brothers

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