We don't mind saying that when a Michelin-starred chef invites us for breakfast we get rather excited. Not only is Portuguese Nuno Mendes chef-proprietor at the fantastic Viajante and The Corner Room at Town Hall Hotel, East London but he is also the brains behind the innovative supper club The Loft Project in East London. EL enjoyed not one but two delicious breakfast dishes and learnt that if you take just one thing into the kitchen it must be passion...
Location:Viajante and The Corner Room at Town Hall Hotel, East London
What I'm cooking:I am making a few egg dishes based on what we have on the menu in the Corner Room for breakfast. I want the breakfast to have a certain uniqueness, not the usual breakfast. For instance we don't have bacon - but we have 'house bacon' which sounds pretentious but is actually a slab of pork belly which is cured here.
The people I cook for most are:Aside from the restaurant, my partner and my daughter. I like them to have the best experience possible and it's only fair that I give them something that reflects what I do there. I spend a lot of time at work and I don't want to just give them the leftovers.
I can't start the day without:Cereal in the morning. I don't have it every day but I try to. I feel when you work in a restaurant you sometimes find yourself eating stuff that's not necessarily best for you. Cereal is healthy - with some soya milk!
My signature dish is:I don't really have a signature dish as we tend to change the menu a lot, not just with the seasons, but with our whims. At home I cook a lot of pasta - not because it's easy, but because it's so hard to find good pasta. When I have the time I love to make my own pasta.
I have too much:Ibérico Ham. I have way too much...
The taste I can't live without:I love Japanese food. It's one of the most exciting things for me, Japanese cooking.
Every kitchen should have:Passion. Passion behind the stove is the most important thing. If you don't have that it's very hard to get anywhere. The energy is felt, and if the passion is not there, the guest feels it. Without passion, it almost feels as if the food has lost its soul. The idea behind the Loft Project is that you can cook anywhere, as long as you are comfortable with what you have to work with, you can do food anywhere.
Ingredients I swear by:Fish and pork. Vegetables are incredible - I use a lot of vegetables - but for me these are things that come from my roots, I use a lot of seafood and shellfish.
The perfect breakfast out:Leila's Cafe in Shoreditch.
My favourite comfort food:Something Japanese and something Italian.
The best thing about Hackney:The diversity, the vibrancy, artistically all the things that are happening around here. I really like East London, I think I would struggle to live anywhere else. I moved to London to move to East London, it's like a collection of all my experiences in a sense. I lived in East Village; in the Mission District in San Francisco, a lot of places all around the world. This is like a sum of all those places.
If I could cook for anyone, it would be:My father
My personal motto is:Have fun. I mean, cooking is fun. This is what we choose to do, it's our livelihood. We sacrifice a lot of our personal lives because we spend a great deal of time at work, so if we don't enjoy what we do we're going to be miserable. We're very fortunate to be able to do what we do, so have fun!
Try some of Nuno Mendes' dishes for yourself at the Taste of London restaurant festival, taking place from 21-24 June in London's Regent's Park. A must-visit event for any gourmand, world renowned chefs will be dishing up starter-sized portions of their finest fare, allowing visitors to sample signature dishes from some of London's best restaurants. Nuno's tasting menu will include:
- Sea bass ceviche with green chilli and fennel
- Acorda de bacalhau
- Goat's caramel with blueberries and shiso
- Iberico pork with shell fish bread pudding and carrots