Chef Name: Sally Abé
Title: Head Chef
1 Michelin Star – The Harwood Arms
UK’s Top Gastropub at the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs – The Harwood Arms
‘Chef of the Year’ at the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards
‘Chef To Watch’ at the National Restaurant Awards 2019
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I was 20. I’d just finished studying hospitality and business management at the University in Sheffield, and then I got my first job in the kitchens at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill in London. That’s when I fell in love with being a chef and knew this was the industry I wanted to be in!
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
One of my earliest memories is from when I was about 9, and my mum and I decided to bake croissants together. It was so much fun but ended up taking a lot longer than we were expecting! I remember feeling so happy though because my mum let me stay up late to finish them with her.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
Fergus Henderson is such a great inspiration to me. I love his restaurant, St John, and its celebration of British ingredients – which is something I love to do at The Harwood Arms too. But I also really admire his nose-to-tail philosophy. It’s so important to appreciate the food that we eat and to make use of all parts of an animal, not just the prime cuts.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
One of my favourite cookbooks is Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. The recipes are beautifully simple and honest, something that’s really in line with my own ethos.
The second cookbook, and the one I probably use most often, is The Observer Guide to British Cookery from Jane Grigson. It’s filled with so many lovely old school recipes, and I’m constantly rifling through its pages to look at how I can put my own twist on some of its delicious classic recipes.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Garlic! It’s so important for adding flavour to pretty much any dish.
The second has to be English mustard. I’m utterly obsessed and love to put it on absolutely everything I eat.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
It’s either something classic and comforting like a shepherd’s pie, or I also love to cook noodles, whether its Singapore noodles or noodles paired with something fragrant and spiced like a Thai green curry.
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. I’ve got so much respect and admiration for Dominique Crenn and I’d love to go one day.
And who would you take as your guest?
What do you look for in a good chef?
A good attitude and a willingness to learn. Skills can be taught, but a good mentality is something people either have or they don’t.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
Always ask questions and soak up as much information as possible. Communication is key!
At the time of this interview, Chef Sally Abé was Head Chef at The Harwood Arms. She is now Head Chef at The Pem, please see Visit below.
Address: 22-28 Broadway, London
Telephone: +44 (0) 203 3018080
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