What is obvious, almost from the moment we sit down and start firing questions at Stevie, is that this is a man in the culinary know. Though his voice barely raises above a gentle murmur and his hands stay folded neatly in his lap, his quiet passion for great food mingles its way into every thoughtfully delivered sentence.
His opinions are often strong, sometimes even harsh. But given his credentials (he started working in the kitchens of The River Café at 16, cooked at Moro and Petersham Nurseries, has put out three highly-successful and critically acclaimed cookbooks, co-presented a hit TV show on Channel 4, writes a weekly Telegraph Column, has put his name to various pop ups and, of course, his stunning West-London restaurant, The Dock Kitchen) we’d say he has every right to have the odd pop. First at blogs which he thinks are ‘people’s long, un-edited, boring thoughts about cooking’, then at ‘faddy’ food trends that are ‘really American’, and finally ‘short-lived, concept’ restaurants far too ‘focused on the opening buzz’.
Before we paint Parle as crabby, let it be said that his enthusiasm for great food, good restaurants and discovering new tastes far out ways a few gripes – from Street Feast in Dalston which he finds ‘extraordinary, particularly how they get such a diverse range of stalls of such amazing quality’ to his love of India. The latter featured as part of his Channel 4 show Spice Trip, which aired towards last year. He loves it he says ‘because of the diversity of the food which changes as you move across the country, the way just being on a train for 20 hours can show you the cuisines of multiple regions.’
When on London soil and not working the stoves at The Dock Kitchen, Stevie likes to eat good but ‘simple food’, at home feeding his two ‘adventurous’ young sons a range of uncomplicated, mostly vegetable-based dishes such as Japanese rice and pickles. Though he also admits to ‘experimenting with Korean barbeque food’ this summer.
Being restaurant obsessives, we can’t help but ask the question about his favourites, which he lists as Moro which is ‘just always brilliant’, Racine and Grain Store. When we point out that, with its vegetable-focused philosophy, Bruno Loubert’s second London restaurant could be considered a ‘trend’, he (quite rightly) puts us back in our place by saying “I love Grain Store, what they are doing is more of a movement than a trend. It’s a real restaurant with a real chef and will have longevity because it has integrity.”
With service imminent we ask what the chef-cum-journalist-cum-TV-personality has coming up next. He lists a few restaurants in the pipelines including one that will focus on what ancient and contemporary London means in a food context, other books and shows, a trip to Korea, plus more work with charity Home Start UK (with whom he’s just filmed a series of recipes that come in at less than a pound a portion).
“If it all comes off I’m going to be in some trouble.” Stevie jokes.
But as he wanders off to feed a fully booked restaurant, we can’t help but think he’s probably got it all under control…
For more information visit dockkitchen.co.uk