Cook and author Philip Dundas talks to TheGayUK about wine, skiing and Jesus (plus tells us off for calling him a chef.)
If you’re wondering what’s on the menu this Valentine’s Day then you’ll have to book a table and find out, as ‘Pip’ only decides on the day after buying the best quality food available. He also gives us a recipe for romance this Valentine’s and reminds us that eating light is always best for an ‘active’ evening!
What started your love affair with food?
A crazy mother in a Liberty headscarf with an Aga, kitchen garden and rolled up sleeves, attempting ever more complicated Elizabeth David recipes.
Is being a chef a lonely job?
I’m not a chef, I’m a cook and there is a difference. I don’t have technical skill, only huge enthusiasm and on a good day, lots of creativity. It’s not lonely because I work with one of my best friends and she makes me laugh all day. We want an easy life really but work incredibly hard, so we share that journey. It’s a delight.
How do you like to unwind and spend your spare time?
I don’t really have any spare time. Now I’m in my forties I just want to keep doing things and bringing more ideas into reality. I wasted too much of my life recovering from club hangovers and sitting around wondering what to with my life. There’s no stopping me now. But if I do have time to go away I love walking in the Scottish Mountains or this time of year hopping off to go skiing.
Who’s your favourite chef?
I don’t really have any favourites. But I think Nigel Slater writes about food in a wonderful way. We owe everything to Ruth Rogers and the late Rosie Gray for what they brought to the British culinary zeitgeist.
What’s the secret to calm in the kitchen?
A glass of wine.
Is there such a thing as the perfect dinner guest?
Yes. As Nancy Mitford once said, “one should always be aware of not being a bore”. The perfect dinner guest brings me a fabulous bottle of wine to enjoy later, converses generally on interesting subjects (not themselves) and leaves before midnight.
I hear there are no menus at your restaurant PipsDish? What made you come up with the concept of just serving the meal you’ve prepared?
Cooking has to be a pleasure for us. We love shopping for the ingredients and thinking of how we want to put them together. If we have an advertised menu then we are simply reproducing a technical operation, which isn’t fun for us.
I looked at some of the previous menus which look great yet had a lot of meat in. Do you cater for the vegetarians among us or is it like growing up where you eat what you’re given?
A bit of both. Of course we cook for anyone, as long as you let us know before you come and don’t just announce it last minute! But by removing choice, people are actually happier.
If you could have a dinner table with three guests who would they be and why?
Jesus, because I want to know what he thinks about religion. Oscar Wilde because (although I suspect he was a bore, see above) I’d love to tell everyone, and Edmund Mallory because he was one of the last great (gay – did I say that?) heroes.
Will you be working this Valentine’s or do you have a day off to spend with a loved one?
Mary and I will both be working on Valentine’s Day. I love my husband Glynn more than life itself but don’t need to spend Valentine’s Day with him. Isn’t it for kids or people who are dating?
Which is your signature dish?
It changes every time.
Your book ‘Cooking without recipes’ made the Telegraph top 10 Christmas cookery books. Where can people buy the book from and will there be any more in the pipeline?
Amazon and yes, I’m on the next one already.
Finally are you able to offer our readers a quick recipe to stir up romance this Valentine’s?
Well if you want to have a shag after dinner, you don’t want to be full of food, so I would go for salad with langoustines in their shells. Chop soft-boiled egg and avocado into coriander, caperberries, curly lettuce and watercress. Brush langoustines (or tiger prawns) with melted butter and grill. Toast croutons in extra virgin olive oil.
Dressing of lime juice, sesame oil, spoonful of honey, salt and pepper.
Gently turn the salad and put the langoustines on a plate in the middle with chunks of lemon.
There should be lots of finger sucking and slurping to get you in the mood.