Flash-grilled: Lee Westcott

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with chef Lee Westcott

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, London

Lee Westcott, who closed his well-regarded London restaurant Typing Room last year, announced earlier this week that he is to step down as head chef of Pensons on the Netherwood Estate after just a year in the role.

What was your first job?
Paper round. I got bored of it after a few weeks, so I paid my sister £1 to do it for me instead; bless her. 

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
I have two. Hawksmoor’s sticky toffee pudding; and chicken flavoured Super Noodles. I know it’s bad, but I can’t resist if I’m hungover. 

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Every meal I’ve had at The Ledbury has been faultless. They just get it spot on every time. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Rene Redzepi. He’s always forward thinking.  

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
I have absolutely no idea. It’s all I’ve ever done. I know for sure that I couldn’t sit behind a desk. I can’t keep still for longer than a few minutes. 

What is your biggest regret?
Not coming up with the idea for the Instagram app

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Chefs dragging their feet when they walk. Come on, walking really isn’t that difficult.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I love you, while her husband was stood next to her.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Tarte tatin. It’s a classic; timeless, skilful and indulgent.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Clean, honest, and tasty.

Most overrated food?
Truffles; I’m really not a fan.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Mobile phones!   

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
When I first opened Typing Room, I burnt Marina O’Loughlin’s mouth by accident with liquid nitrogen. She gave us 2/10 for that dessert because she said the liquid nitrogen left her with no taste buds. We still got 8/10 overall for food, though. I learnt a lot that day.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Get your head down, learn your trade, and don’t progress too quickly.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Spoons. They barely leave a chef’s hand.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Something quick and tasty, mainly focusing on vegetables.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
It was when I ate a peanut butter sandwich at another kid’s birthday party. It’s the day that I found out that I am allergic to peanuts. I remember being rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Great day! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always remain humble.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I tried to swim to a little cove just off the main beach when I was in Thailand. It was around 5pm, the weather took a turn for the worse and half way through the swim I was basically stuck in a storm with the tide coming in. I couldn’t get back to the main beach or the cove. Luckily a small fishing boat picked me up. I was very lucky.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Dinner and drinks somewhere relaxed with friends, and then we’d normally end up in decent pub or bar in East London.

Tipple of choice?
Negroni.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Fore rib of beef, chicken fat roast potatoes, and all the vegetables.

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