LOVE FOOD, LIVE FOODIE:
I'm very excited about this interview and i hope everyone else is too. I was lucky enough to visit Pont St at Belgraves last year and was given a food lesson from Head Chef Sophie Michell. Too add to my luck Sophie has agreed to an interview- i trust everyone now knows the drill.
So please do read on.
Hailing from a lineage of avid foodies and professional cooks, Sophie Michell’s first encounters with cooking were with her grandmother aged 4. Showing incredible potential so early on, by the young age of 15 she was already running services in a Somerset gastropub and a career in the food industry was already decided upon.
Sophie went on to train at the respected Butler's Wharf Chef School in London, while working at reputable and glamorous restaurants La Gavroche, Michelin-starred Greenhouse, the Lanesborough and the Embassy. At the age of 19, Sophie had been nominated ‘Young Chef of the Year’ by the prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs.
Sophie’s gastronomic interests have always centred on eclectic cuisines, quality ingredients and nutritional virtue. Her taste for adventure and appreciation of both classic and avantgarde fare have led her to be the private Chef for international super model Claudia Schiffer for two years. Sophie developed her interest in healthy eating and has worked privately for other starry clients such as Leonardo DiCaprio. She has also continued to cater for high profile events and most recently was executive chef for The Royal Polo for Prince William and Prince Harry at Lord Lloyd Webber’s estate.
Perhaps her biggest challenge to date was becoming the UK’s youngest female Executive Chef at London’s chic Belgraves Hotel; a title she is immensely proud of. She completely overhauled the food offering after Mark Hix’s departure at the luxury boutique hotel in Belgravia, which has had a superb response, numerous good reviews and a growing fan base since the hotel's restaurant, Pont St, was re-launched in 2013.
As part of Heathrow Airport's growth of Terminal 2 as a destination for food, fashion and lifestyle, Michell is part of the team behind The Gorgeous Kitchen, an exciting brand new contemporary restaurant providing passengers with a delicious menu worthy of any of the capital's top restaurants.
Sophie has a successful career out of the kitchen as a TV presenter and food writer. She was part of C4's smash hit cooking show, 'Cook Yourself Thin', and also co-wrote the book of the same name which went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Other TV highlights include Sky Taste, Market Kitchen, Comic Relief, Iron Chef USA and Masterchef.
She has also worked with many big British and global brands a brand ambassador and consultant including Ocado, Total Yoghurt, Herbal Essences, HaagenDazs, Danone, Tefal and Lindemann. She has had columns and contributed to titles such as Grazia, Healthy Magazine, Eat Me, and broadsheets including The Telegraph and The Independent, The Mirror, The Sun, The Times, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Stella, YOU magazine, The Mail and Observer Food Monthly.
Sophie joined the specialist judging panel for the renowned Smith Hotel Awards last November and the‘Young National Chef of the Year’ awards. She was also invited by the editor of Sunday Times Style to join a talk with designer of the moment, Emilia Wickstead, at the prestigious Cheltenham Literature Festival about the relationship between fashion and food. Sophie had the pleasure of designing the menu and hosting a lunch for 200 recently in October
As a published author, she has released three further books ‘Irresistible’, 'Fabulous Food', and 'Love Good Food.' Sophie released two new books last year, ‘The Gorgeous Kitchen’ and a book in collaboration with Total Greek Yoghurt.
- Who would be your ideal chef to cook for you?
Micheal Roux Junior, amaaaaaazing chef
- What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?
Living on somewhere similar to Necker Island with the funds to cover it. Failing that, in a kitchen. Possibly with a few more projects side by side.
- When did you first realise you wanted to be a chef?
When I was 14 and I realised that I could make money out of what until then had been a passion and obsession. I left school within the year and became a full time chef.
- Where would you go for a burger?
Pont St. Not joking, our burgers are great. We have a fancy one, but I like the classic burger on our menu, daily, freshly made Brioche, sesame topped buns, gourmet burger sauce (abit like a Big Mac sauce made with amazing ingredients and from scratch) Oglesheild cheese (has a great melting consistency) and my 'fairground' onions, onions that are reminiscent of the onions you get with hot dogs at the fairground. Charred and aromatic.
- Why London?
It's the best city in the world.
- Which dish is your go to dish on a lazy day?
Cheese on toast with masses of pickles or cheese on crackers with homemade chutney (my grandmas recipe) on a really bad day its Prawn cocktail Crisps.
WOW- just WOW.
thank you Sophie for the amazing food and now this interview. there aren't too many perks to this blogging gig, but meeting Sophie and doing this is definitely one.
Another local restaurant has been visited, about 5 down and now I think there is 6 to go. The variety of restaurants and establishments between Finsbury Park and crouch end is amazing. Stroud Green in between and you have all bases covered. This coupled with the bars, pubs and cafes means that you are well looked after any time of day during the week.
On this occasion I fancied trying some Turkish and specifically at Ole Pera. Their sandwich board had enticed with their offer of 2 courses for £10. Winner Winner, Turkish Dinner.
We ordered a starter each, which we would share and the same main course, lamb Shish kebab with rice and salad. The main feeling from this is that you can't go wrong and for £10 you can't expect too much.
The starters we ordered were Kisir ( burger wheat, chopped veg with a tomato and olive oil sauce) and Babagannus (aubergine salad). Both were quite tasty and with the lovely bread. A thick focaccia type bread it was dipped and whipped away very quickly. The Babagannus I have had from Middle eastern restaurants is a lot creamier which helps, especially as a dip. This was okay and again the price does makes a difference. £10 for 2 courses.
The main course of lamb kebab did leave me stuffed but i felt slightly let down by it. The kebab was a bit soft for me. The texture of a barbecue and the charred flavour this comes with was completely missing and left me disappointed. Again, two courses for £10.
All in all, a drink and a two courses later i wasn't too disappointed. There is better Turkish food in the area but at this price, you get what you paid for. Now Where shall i go next?
I am on a mission to become a good chef and treat my family and friends to some lovely food.
How can i become a top chef and how can i make restaurant quality food at home for less than half the price?
I think that the answer is simple. A big step is the need to learn how to read and learn how to follow instructions and orders. I am at an okay level now and the only training i have had is by watching my parents cook and listening to them when they have told me what to do. Other than that i have read recipes in books and online and followed them point by point. More often than not i will read the same recipe five times before i chose what i am making and then at least ten times during the cooking process.
The main lesson and route to become a great chef is just by cooking. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it sure helps set you on the way. Sometimes you need to put all the fancy things to the side; the slicing and dicing you see on TV is just not my thing. I have tried plenty of times but the fast chopping just seems like a hazard to me and i'm scared i would lose a finger or two. The back stories of chefs are filled with hours and hours of work, chefs nowadays see to work at least five or six 12 hour days - PRACTICE.
When you practice continuously you begin to learn your own short cuts and with this your own tastes. From here, you stop reading the full instructions and start adapting the recipe as you see fit and this here is when you go from a hard working cook to the start of a good chef. Watching programmes like Masterchef and The GreatBritish Bake-Off you realise that not everyone is as good as each other, even though they are all following instructions- this is when the personality and individual skills come to the fore. This here separates the Shayans of this world and the Jason Athertons or Gordon Ramseys.
I am not saying that anyone can become a top chef, absolutely no way. But by practicing and following instructions we will all be on our way to being able to treat ourselves and friends to good food.
I am ever so grateful to all the top chefs who have treated me to many, many great meals. The time and graft put into those meals is greatly appreciated and i hope that i can start delivering good food.
I am now hooked onto the mobile gaming app Clash of Clans.
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I think the Gaming companies know how to keep us hooked. Most of these apps and games we play on our phones nowadays are pushing you to achieve perfection and never allowing you to leave. You finish one level and immediately you are told that there is more to complete and it is this desire of ours to finish what we have started that compels us to keep on playing. Added to this, there are many differing elements of purchasing in app bonuses or extras that add its own element for each individual. Entice the players with the bonuses but make sure that when they have reached one target that another one is immediately placed in front of them.
Another Guest Review from my brother Sherwin - please check him out on @SherwinSacki.
My bro has been to all the burger places and reviewed them already. So when I came across a new burger place, I went for it! I claimed the rights to eat their first and to post this review.
To start, this place isn’t new – the Pub it actually resides in has been around for eons. You know the pub I’m talking about…you don’t? The Green Man pub on Edgware Road, right next to Edgware Road tube station.
I have been crying for a place to sell burgers near my workplace and aside for the one-off burger pop up stalls that turn up, there is no guaranteed fixture.
I knew of the Green Man pub from a while back. Been there several times for a drink, but only recently did a colleague inform me that they now sell/do burgers. The Burgers are done by the guys over at Burger Craft. Burger Craft are in a couple of other locations in London too. What made them choose a pub near a station who knows and frankly who cares.
Anyway, to the Burgers. There are quite a few on their list and I chickened out of the Bastard Burger as it was only lunch time and I had already had a few snacks beforehand. The Bastard Burger is two patties and so I went for the BLT – Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato for those that didn’t know. The burger came with a side of Hand-Cut fries and as you can see from the pic (ignore the blob of mayo on the side) – DAS IST SER GUT!
The size of the burger was manageable, just too many chips. First, second and third bites went in quickly. I was hungry and lunch time is limited. What came through straight away was the crisp of the bacon with the crunch of the lettuce. Haven’t had lettuce in a burger like that since, well the whopper but you know what I mean. A lot of these new burger places don’t come with lettuce. The patty itself was very juicy and the bun complimented and supported the juices. Not too dry and not ruined either, the bun held all contents in and I wasn’t making a mess of my £xxx shirt. The cheese was American and that too was very nice. Not overcomplicated or extra fancy to take away or confuse the taste buds.
I would compare this burger to something from Byron rather than Dirty Burger. But tick tick tick as good meat, good flavours and good location (for me).
I will be going back again and trying the other variations.
Thank Brother for another great review. I'm jealous and upset that you had a burger without me.