In the kitchen with… Paul Ainsworth
The Great British Food team
What is your home kitchen like?
It’s modern but still homely, and quite minimalist. We recently refurbished it as, like most people, we spend most of our time in the kitchen. It’s a great space with lots of appliances and I do a lot of cooking with my daughter Ci Ci in there. I always take Sunday off and spend it with the family, making pancakes most weekends.
What are your favourite dishes to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the moment?
For breakfast it’s fried black pudding with eggs and buttered rye bread, or French toast. For lunch, I love a mega cheese toastie made the old-fashioned way in a pan by frying each side in butter. I use a mixture of three or four cheeses (such as Parmesan, Red Leicester and Mature Cheddar) and my tip would be to brush each side of your sandwich with a little mayonnaise before you fry it. This gives you the crispiest toastie, I find. For dinner, a warming Thai-inspired mussel broth or baked fish with chorizo and chickpeas goes down well with my family.
Are you a chaotic or organised cook at home?
Well my wife Emma would say chaotic but I would call it organised chaos! Emma is amazing in the kitchen and does a lot of the cooking. She’s definitely more efficient with her washing up whereas I tend to use all the pans but then plonk them on the table and we all dig in.
What do you love cooking with in spring?
St Enodoc asparagus which is really as seasonal as it gets - we’re lucky if we get it for five or six weeks each year. The soil is impeccable where it grows and it is quite frankly the best tasting asparagus I’ve ever tried, and it couldn’t be closer to our restaurants. We simply steam it over seaweed at No6, make a dashi using some of the steaming water, and serve it with a touch of bearnaise.
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
Well I had a podcast called Knives, Forks & Tunes which was centred around my guests’ dream dinner party so this is an easy question for me. I would firstly say my wonderful Dad. I would love to tell him all about his amazing granddaughter. Next, it would be Sir David Jason - my Dad would certainly enjoy his company. Then a few other people I’d love to have would be Granny Ainsworth, Sir Alex Ferguson, Stormzy, Valentino Rossi, Sam Divine and Beyoncé.
What’s your ideal cooking playlist?
House music. I’m obsessed with it. There’s nothing better than listening to Defected Radio whilst cooking with a glass of wine.
What ingredients do you always have in the fridge?
A vast selection of condiments really. I’m a huge fan as they really pack a punch in dishes. I love going around local farmers markets and finding new ones like special chutneys and pickles. They definitely take up way too much space in the fridge but I like them all too much to give any up!
Paul Ainsworth is Chef Owner of the Ainsworth Collection of restaurants in North Cornwall and judge on ITV show, Next Level Chef
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