New Zealand chef Margot Henderson runs a celebrated restaurant and catering company in London with business partner Melanie Arnold. She confesses to three of the deadly sins.
You cook every day and think about food every day. What excites you?
Going out for meals. I am a restaurant addict. If you work in restaurants and are giving a lot of pleasure to others, a lot of the time you feel that you deserve to sit in glamorous restaurants and be served and see what other chefs are doing and enjoy their professionalism. When I am cooking at the stove or prepping for weddings, I just can't eat. That's another reason that when you're finished you think "I deserve" but you don't deserve anything, you've just been working hard. Often I wake up in the morning thinking, "What's for lunch?" I am always looking for really good food and there is so much about.
Describe a favourite meal?
It's always a meal with friends and family. Coming to New Zealand, it would be piles of kina or pāua, to feel the bounty of New Zealand. Cooking fish on the bone on the barbecue - things I can't necessarily get in England. I've got some green-lipped mussels today; we are going to steam them with some Chinese sausages and sambal and fish sauce, garlic and ginger. And I bought a very expensive piece of comte cheese from France. I am passionate about cheese and wine, that's what I always want more of. Red wine and cheese is one of the great combinations. I'd probably spend my last tenner on a nice piece of cheese. I have cheese with crackers, I have it with bread, in an omelette, in a souffle. I have a nice cheese toasty sandwich. I don't like plastic-wrapped cheese but I can even like bog-standard cheese if it's melted.
When you go out to other restaurants do you ever taste something and think, "Dang, I wish I could do this?"
I'd probably ring them up and ask them how they did it. In our industry right now there is great knowledge-sharing. No one owns a recipe and we all get something from somewhere. Restaurants like Noma are inspirational but then all those ideas are infiltrating to us all. I believe what Picasso said - don't borrow, just steal - and that means you make it your own.
What does make you envious?
I can be envious of great chefs and great cooking and of young chefs who have [worked with us and have] been brilliant and they leave and they do great things. It can rile me. I try not to, of course and I don't usually admit it to anyone, but now I am doing this ridiculous article. I am not really envious of money but I am envious of the freedom of it. You know you can go on holidays whenever you want. But at the same time, if you can get anything you want perhaps you don't enjoy the pleasures as much when they come. I'd really like a bigger garden but I love my house.
Do you get tired of cooking?
You do get tired cooking for 100 people every night of the week. Dockets come up and you try to make each one as good as the last and that's where it gets tiring. I'm good until 10 dockets and after [that] my whole body starts to panic. It's quite a young person's sport; you have got to feel the desire to keep going for all those hours to keep the dish great. It's very giving: give, give, give. Nothing drives me to drink more than doing service.
What makes you angry?
I get cross with myself quite a lot. We have a lot of people who are part of our team at work and I get cross that I can't get what I want across. All the team is brilliant but we have to keep to one sort of style. I forget to tell them the reasons why. I get really cross with the dishwashing machines, they are always breaking down. I try not to raise my voice because you're not allowed to do that anymore but I can be a bit shouty and then I feel really upset. I don't hold on to it, it's gone in moments. I never hold grudges.
If you hadn't been a chef what do you think you might have done?
Sheep farming. I'd love to be a farmer in the high country, gathering sheep, working with rare breeds. Maybe even making a bit of cheese.
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* Margot Henderson has been back home for Wellington On a Plate which ends today.