October 15 2013
finding it hard to get out of bed – I arrived at Lime Wood last night for
dinner service and the beds here are so comfortable. Neil, my boyfriend and
head chef at Merchants Tavern in Shoreditch, manages to sleep until 11am, but no
such joy for me.
I have to push on, as it is our head chef Luke’s day off; I catch up with Richard, the sous chef, and put together the new lunch-menu dishes for tomorrow. Richard is nuts: after service tonight he’s off night fishing. It will be freezing.
I’ve not been here for a couple of weeks as I’ve been opening Merchants Tavern, but all’s going well. The new menu we’ve put in place is fab, with dishes such as the agnolotti with sprout tops and goats’ cheese, rose-veal chop with Parmesan crust and gnocchi with hare ragout. The trouble with this place is that I eat all day, picking and trying stuff; it is my job, but it doesn’t help you lose any weight.
Lunch service is busy, which isn’t bad for a Monday. Lots of people have come for a long weekend, and there are a few regulars from Murano. Dinner is even better, with 60 covers; lots of London restaurants would love that on a Monday night. We have a very relaxed style here – it’s fun dining. It means we serve a lot of the food to the guests ourselves; they always seem amazed that I actually work here. People are too used to chefs just putting their names to things and never actually being there.
The chef’s table is a pain: it’s full of the chefs who work here, including Luke, as they’re having a leaving do for Jess, Luke’s PA. We devise a great menu for them though, with a selection of antipasti, roasted peppers, pickled cauliflowers, sautéed wild mushrooms and smokehouse boards (we make our own salami and hams at Lime Wood). I have to say, without showing favouritism, Luke does make some delicious stuff; his lavender-crusted pork is a winner. The main course is chateaubriand with white-bean ragout and cavolo nero. I have to clear the table, pour the wine and cook the food – but it is fun to see the guys.
I speak to Diego at Murano and check all’s well with the mother ship. We’ve been texting each other all day as we’re huge Seinfeld fans and Murano had a new slicer today. There were lots of in-jokes about Kramer, but you need to have watched it to understand.
It’s not a late night as they eat early in Hampshire; I watch a quick episode of The Good Life on YouTube – I love that show – before bed. It’s suddenly got cold, and you can really feel it in the forest.