Fergus Henderson on lunch, Martin Parr and our new chef

The chef and friend of Phaidon celebrates his 56th birthday today. Here are his views on photos, food and friends
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Fergus (centre left) with Black Axe Mangal's Lee Tiernan (far right) and Kate Tiernan (far left), and St John's co-founder Trevor Gulliver. From Black Axe Mangal. Photography by Jason Lowe
Fergus (centre left) with Black Axe Mangal's Lee Tiernan (far right) and Kate Tiernan (far left), and St John's co-founder Trevor Gulliver. From Black Axe Mangal. Photography by Jason Lowe

Even if you haven’t come across Fergus Henderson, you may well have enjoyed the influence of his cookery. The British-born chef, who celebrates his 56th birthday today, initially trained as an architect, before going on to open St John, popularize nose-to-tail cookery, and, in the process, as Nicholas Lander puts it in The Art of the Restaurateur, “inspire a new generation of young British chefs.”

Everyone from Anthony Bourdin to AA Gill has praised Henderson’s singular approach – Bourdin described Ferguson’s signature roast bone marrow as “the best thing I have ever put in my mouth” – and as an opnionated interviewee and friend of Phaidon, Henderson has also managed to offer quite a few tasty views of his own. Here are a few highlights from our books.

On office lunches (and quitting architecture) “Nothing’s going to kill creativity more than a sandwich and a can of Coke. So as a spiritual gesture I sacrificed myself to a long lunch. Which suggested to me that the architect’s office wasn’t the place for me.” From his Fantastic Man profile.

 

Fergus Henderson's beef mince on toast. From Toast
Fergus Henderson's beef mince on toast. From Toast

On making time for food (including elevenses) “This theory of no time any more, foodwise, drives me mad! That’s why I like elevenses. Seedcake and Madeira. You’ve got time in the day for ten minutes at 11 o’clock. It’s not a wild, crazy thing. People think that every moment must be used, but food seems to come at the end of the list. Or, what could be better than having a hare braising in the oven for three hours, leaving a delicious smell in the flat, have a bath, mix a martini, what better time is that?” From his Fantastic Man profile.

 

New York City, from Real Food by Martin Parr
New York City, from Real Food by Martin Parr

On Martin Parr, and his Real Food photographs “There is a strong spirit of place at work here – not the one I look for, that of seasonality and local growing, but a different approach: the Stars and Stripes adorn a barbecue and a pie, a proud expression of a proud nation. Perhaps Martin is bringing to our notice the fact that there is a culinary history running parallel. I am not going to guess, but I do know that this is the power of photographs – after a few days of looking at sugar icing and cucumber abuse, I need a Fernet-Branca.” From Martin Parr Real Food.

 

Lee and Kate Tiernan. Photography by Jason Lowe. From Black Axe Mangal
Lee and Kate Tiernan. Photography by Jason Lowe. From Black Axe Mangal

On Lee Tiernan, erstwhile St John chef, founder of Black Axe Mangal, and forthcoming Phaidon author "Lee is a master of the crispy pig skin, a squid-ink dark magician. There is a cosmic riot of glitter, the taming of amorphous tofu and the heady hit of numbing spice. Lee has borrowed my bone marrow, my cod’s roe, my pig’s blood, but they are not what shape him. We are part of a fraternity but he has never sacrificed a sense of ambitious certainty and shameless self. I am proud to be a mother hen, nurturing my chicks and sending them out into the world to see what form they take. Lee has become a hard rock eagle – but that is exactly the bird that he always been.” From Black Axe Mangal.

 

Bakken Special, The OG BAM Dish. Photography by Jason Lowe. From Black Axe Mangal
Bakken Special, The OG BAM Dish. Photography by Jason Lowe. From Black Axe Mangal

Hungry for more? Order our Fantastic Man book here; get Martin Parr Real Food here, and pre-order Black Axe Mangal here; oh, and you can also take a look at Fergus’s recipe for mince on toast, here.

 

Black Axe Mangal

 


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