What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
I’ve been interested in food from a very young age. I remember going to buy mangoes with my dad when I was very young in Birmingham and the amazing taste of an alphonso mango in spring when the juice dribbles down your chin and the intensity of the flavour was almost too much.
What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
People. I think I’m mostly inspired by people, the people I work with, and have worked for but also the producers, growers, farmers and makers I’ve met and worked with all over the world.
Describe how you see your own culinary style and how it has evolved over the years…
When I opened Dock Kitchen I was young, only 24. I was constantly travelling and finding new ideas and recipes, so thats what that restaurant was about. Rotorino was born out of a desire to make a Dalston restaurant I could eat in all the time, one serving the simple Italian food I didn’t think anyone was making at the time.
Craft London is more grown up, and is where I am right now in my cooking. I’m obsessed with production. So creating a vibrant new-British restaurant with a smoke house, kitchen garden, bee hives, curing room and butchery was a natural, if slightly over the top, move.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
Salt. Salt is the single most important thing in cookery. Without it food tastes quite simply of nothing.
Can you tell us a bit about Craft London and why it aims to be different?
At Craft London we have an ambition to only buy British produce. It’s a big challenge, especially at this time of year when proactically nothing is in season. We rely on fermenting, preserving and curing to bring interest to the plates in the ‘hungry gap’.
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at Craft London?
I want Craft London to be exciting and wonderful. I want guests to leave feeling well looked after, like they’ve had a break from the world, but mostly I want people to have fun.
What excites you about ‘craft’ food culture right now?
The movement is exploding. There are so many wonderful makers at the moment and it’s really exciting to be part of it.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?
Hmmm it’s a tricky one… I benefited hugely from having a mentor, Rose Gray. So I would say find someone awesome to work for and stay there long enough to build a relationship that will last.
That, and dont have a baby at the same time as opening a restaurant. It’s a nightmare!
What’s next for you?
I’m not sure, at the moment I’m focusing on what I’ve got in front of me. But there always seem to be some crazy conversations going on in the background.
Find out more information about Stevie and Craft London here |craft-london.co.uk