‘A restaurant should be an old friend’: spreading the gospel of St John
Observer Food Monthly joins the influential London restaurant’s founders, Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, in France on their way to the ‘best bar in the world’
• Recipes from the new St John book
One Friday afternoon early this summer I drove down from Toulouse to a village called Homps, east of Carcassonne, parked in a narrow, cobbled lane in the hot sun and wandered across a shaded square into the cool kitchen of a house beside the Canal du Midi. That afternoon, the house had become an outpost of London’s most distinctive and influential restaurant, St John. The grainy grey light of Smithfield meat market had been swapped for a big Mediterranean sky, but the intense “nose to tail” spirit of the London restaurant prevailed.
In the kitchen, Fergus Henderson, St John’s indomitable philosopher-in-chief, was working alongside his Canadian head chef, Steve Darou and a posse of staff and friends, using kitchen scissors to nip the heads and snip the backbones from 120 quail. The quail – set aside to marinate on a layered bed of parsley stalks, sliced garlic and olive oil – would form the centrepiece of the St John’s annual fête du vin the next day.Continue reading...