Masterchef S01 ep14: Fergus Henderson, Henderson Restaurant, [London]

Interview with Fergus Henderson

Architecture you create space for people and it affects the way in which they occupy it, the manners of sort of behaviour and with food you do the same thing but intently the nature of the affair is the bone to gnaw on, or a crab to grapple with, you kind of affect their behaviour so this way I pop them inside and out. which is very satisfactory. You create the space and feed them. It is not about distractions or lots of art on the wall or lots of marble and brass. It is not particularly neutral either it has a sense of spirit of occassion I think, it is sort of the fact that you have to go through the long corridor and the sense of kind of arrival and discovery.

 

03.44
KM: What is St. Johns?

03.47
It is a place to come and eat really, in a kind of age where restaurants rely on
gastronomic clutches of glamour or pizzaz - it is not about that it is about that it
is about you and eating, which is the most fundamental and most serious part
of us all.

04.10
KM: You come from a background as an architect?

04.12
Yes

04.13
Why an architect why did you become an architect and why did you decide to
torture yourself further with food?

04.20
I sort of.. I mean there is a lot more similarity.. it is not an architectural pilling of
food . Architecture you create space for people and it affects the way in which
they occupy it, the manners of sort of behaviour and with food you do the
same thing but intently the nature of the affair is the bone to gnaw on, or a
crab to grapple with, you kind of affect their behaviour so this way I pop them
inside and out. which is very satisfactory. You create the space and feed them.
It is not about distractions or lots of art on the wall or lots of marble and brass.
It is not particularly neutral either it has a sense of spirit of occassion I think, it
is sort of the fact that you have to go through the long corridor and the sense
of kind of arrival and discovery. Then the hearth and the bread being baked at
the bar and then sort of the juices start working, then you get into the dinning
room and then hopefully by the time you sit down just at the right moment you
are in the mood for lunch.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

05.24
KM: A lot of people might get put off by this look because it is very raw, it is
very ...

05.29
Yes, you sometimes sense these tables that arrive, you can definitely sense a
slight nervousness, hover around the table, slightly unsure if they should
commit themselves to lunch or not. Eventually they sit down and then eat and
then the food arrives and the glass of wine and then they kind of sort of win
them over. It is quite satisfactory in this process of winning them over.

05.57
When I first started I was still an architecture student and three of us took over
a restaurant in Covent Gardens which was called Smith's and is now called
Belgo Central. We took over on a Sunday and cooked Casoulet for 200
people or Pot au feu for 200 people.

06.11
KM; How did you know how to cook in the first place?

06.13
My mum, trial and error

06.19
KM: So you really went to these sort of

06.27
When I left Architecture school, Smith's asked me in to work with the head
chef to change their menu, that was a rather short and painful experience
because their chef was wondering why this architectural student was telling
them what to cook.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

06.40
KM: How did you get on with him, how did you... did you win him over in the
end or did you find that you were at the end of a knife?

06.44
No, we got on fine really he was an Olympic hop skip and jump person so quite
a big chap so it was a good idea to stay on the right side of him.

06.52
KM: Really

07.04
Chefs are a very funny lot and often actually they are cooking something that
they probably don’t understand sort of just kind of in that case in that particular
kitchen getting them to cook food that they understood more or kind enjoy

07.19
KM: You mean they have learnt how to cook something but they haven't
understood the meaning behind the dish.

07.23
Yes


Jewellery Theatre Elements

07.31
There is kind of a fantastic tradition of indigenous foods here, that i mean that
we have had dreadful press in the past and Britian seems to be ... in a way it
has sort of been a strange miss mash of food .. it hasn't been one thing or
another but there are fantastic seasons

07.50
KM: So you are saying there is an English cuisine?

07.52
There is! There are an amazing number of ingredients and there are more little
birds in the sky than you could wish for, it is fantastic.

08.06
KM: What is quintessential English food then?

08.08
I am not saying there is quintessential English food or British food, but it is sort
of in a way we may have reinvented it with a sort of angle on it but it is sort
enjoying cooking what is endigeounous, enjoying the local breeds, be it
Tamworth or Old Scotland Pigs, or Angus in Beef, enjoying the seasons, game
birds.

08.37
I suppose there are certain things that are perculiar to English food, like Gulls
Egg Season which is two weeks in the year, or

08.44
KM: How big are the seagulls eggs?

08.46
About that big.

08.47
Like a pigeon eggs

 

08.48
Yes, sort of delicious and ... it is such a joy because they are such small
seasons that you actually wait for it. Or English asparagus this wonderful thin
green asparagus has such a sort season i mean there is such a joy that there
is a season - you look forward to it rather than it is on the world wide vegie
market where you can get the vegetable all year round.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

09.26
KM: How do you develop a dish?

09.29
It is quite hard to say what actually drives a dish, maybe that is because of the
architecture of something. I have always drawn from all sorts of things I am not
kind of jingoistic, eat in Italy or France and certainly learn from what I eat, and
in a way we kind of have a circle of foods that are proned to get reaction, by
nature of us cooking spleens or bones, we are quite know for offal ... I may say
rarely there is some sort of ... people tend to .... sort of shreik or ....

10.13
KM: They know when they come to you

10.14
They seemed very well primed.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Fergus Henderson, Henderson Restaurant, [London]