Cooking is a minefield. No matter how many cookery books, recipes or tutorials you follow, nothing can quite compare to dining out in an actual restaurant. But sadly, eating out all of the time isn’t feasible, but that doesn’t mean when we’re at home we have to succumb to bland meals.

To save you from serving up any more sorry meals that you wouldn’t even dish up to your dog, we’ve enlisted the help of eight top London chefs to spill all of their top tips and secrets to cooking up a storm at home. 

From store cupboard essentials to failsafe meals that will guarantee you have a delicious meal in less than 20 minutes, here’s what they had to say…

Louis Korovilas, Giorgio Locatelli alumnus and former Bancone Head Chef & creator of Tavolino’s menu

My three store cupboard essentials… 

White Balsamic vinegar – I use it everywhere because of its light acidity and sweetness, it’s like an instant agrodolce. I use it in salad, pasta and to quick pickle veg. 

Olive oil from Kalamata – my uncle brings this to me every year, our family has our own press. It’s a clean, non-peppery olive oil, so you can use it for cooking, finishing and it’s not too harsh for my kids. 

Dunns River all-purpose seasoning – It’s an instant umami flavour profile if you’re short of time and all out of ideas. I use it on chicken, fish or any kind of protein – be generous!

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Fish Tacos – There is a good fish market near where I live, the stone bass is really great quality and it’s great value for money. It’s ok to buy good quality tortillas and make the rest yourself. You can experiment with additional toppings – this is where I would add in my quick pickle veg.

My top tip for cooking at home… 

Invest in your kitchen (equipment), don’t buy into any unnecessary gadgets (garlic crushers, egg slicers, spiralisers). Investing in one good cooks’ knife or heavy based casserole pot are long term investments that will up the quality of your food and cooking experience. It doesn’t need to cost the world, most Caribbean markets you can find good quality Dutch pots that are just as good as Le Creuset or pricy cast iron pots, but for a fraction of the price.

Ximena Gayosso, Head Chef at Madera

My three store cupboard essentials… 

EVOO, rice and macha sauce. It’s my survival kit. 

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Rice with vegetables, tuna and spicy mayo. Yes, everything mixed! It’s very simple to do and makes me full and happy.

EVOO, rice and macha sauce. It's my survival kit. 

My top tip for cooking at home… 

Keep it simple. Make sure you don’t mix more than 4 ingredients in the same dish. And please! Rinse the rice, always!

Michael Carr, Head Chef at Fenchurch Restaurant at Sky Garden

My three store cupboard essentials… 

Hellman’s mayo, tuna, pasta…

Best quick dinner going. Combine all three, as well as a touch of dried chilli and garlic bread and you are winning! 

My go-to failsafe meal… 

I always have miso and fish sauce kicking around in my cupboards and fridge and currently my diet is full of it. It’s fast, full of goodness and tasty…

My top tip for cooking at home…

The key is sharp knives. Herbs are also a great way to enhance your everyday meals. If you have herbs that are wilted or dying, cut a piece of potato roughly the size of your thumb and place it into cold water. Then place the herbs in the water with the potato, so the stem is fully submerged. Refrigerate for one hour and this will result in fresher herbs and extend the shelf life for future use!

Sameer Taneja, Executive Chef of Benares Mayfair

My three store cupboard essentials… 

Pepper – this humble ingredient adds more than flavour; it changes the characteristics of any dish and can make a big difference. I use it beyond cooking for its health benefits too.

I always have soy milk for my cup of tea. And of course, no cupboard would be complete without a chocolate bar to satisfy those all-time cravings!

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Ramen – it’s quick and easy comfort food and not to mention so, so delicious.

My top tip for cooking at home…

Keep it simple to avoid any stress and enjoy the experience in the kitchen.

Monika Linton, Founder of Brindisa

My three store cupboard essentials… 

Without fail our larder has dry Spanish pulses (pardina lentil, chickpeas, a white bean), completely essential for our household and has been for decades. We think, we plan, we soak, we slow cook, we enjoy – any time of the week – it’s therapeutic.

Pimentón smoked agridulce: not too hot not too mild, just perfect for adding to one pot dishes, sprinkling over grilled anything and amazing in goats cheese on toast.

Saffron for veg or fish dishes and soups. Delicate aromatic, use in small amounts so as not to make things to heady – adds such amazing colour and flavour.

We think, we plan, we soak, we slow cook, we enjoy - any time of the week - it's therapeutic.

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Pan fried white beans (from jar in haste) with chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, sweet onion and parsley. No sides, so I do add spinach for some green!

My top tip for cooking at home…

Think ahead and cook calmly. I often don’t look at the clock -especially for weekday suppers – and find myself flapping to feed the household. The days I plan and consider I love, even after a long day’s work, as for me it’s a way of banishing the feeling of being on the treadmill of daily grind. 

Ben Kelliher, Executive Chef at The Rubens at the Palace

My three store cupboard essentials… 

Flour:  To make sourdough bread!  Like many others, during my time in lockdown I really got into the sourdough bread making. I have really mastered the art of sourdough, practice makes perfect.

Eggs: I just can’t live without having eggs in the cupboard! They are so versatile and perfect for making my favourite bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast or a late night snack.

Rice: I always have long grain rice in the cupboard – perfect for making a delicious rice salad, burrito wraps or egg fried rice. I love cooking rice dishes at home, they are firm favourites with the added bonus that they are healthy for the family!

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Chicken and chorizo cheesy pasta for the family. Cook your pasta: usually I use Penna pasta – takes 10-12 minutes. Fry of your diced chicken. Add your diced chorizo. Once cooked add cream, reduce for 3 minutes, add grated cheddar cheese and peas. Add the pasta to the sauce. Shaved parmesan over the top and olive oil. Garnish with rocket salad on top – voila!

My top tip for cooking at home…

To plan and prepare all ingredients before you start your recipe, then you can take your time with the recipe and get it right without stressing or panicking.

Sofian Msetfi, Executive Chef of Ormer Mayfair

My three store cupboard essentials… 

My store cupboard is a bit Mother Hubbard as I am always eating out but you will always find salt, ketchup and pasta – salt, because it’s obligatory; ketchup, because it’s my guilty pleasure and pasta, because it is so quick and easy to cook.  When I am cooking at home, I don’t like to spend more than ten minutes in the kitchen.

Keep it simple and try and use one or two pans to save on washing up.

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Pasta linguine because it is so easy to throw together and falls under my 10-minute home-cooking guidelines.

My top tip for cooking at home…

Keep it simple and try and use one or two pans to save on washing up.

Hideki Maeda, Head Chef at Nobu London Old Park Lane

My three store cupboard essentials… 

Tinned tomatoes, anchovies and spaghetti. I love noodles in any form, and find spaghetti is the most accessible and versatile.

My go-to failsafe meal… 

Any kind of pasta dish. I would happily eat noodles for every meal, every day. With my store cupboard spaghetti, I would make pepperoncini with good quality olive oil and plenty of garlic.

My top tip for cooking at home…

Don’t rush it. Even with quick and easy recipes, make sure you focus and put lots of love into it.


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