Cheese Special: An Interview with Jeremy Lee

Acclaimed British television chef and head chef at Quo Vadis restaurant in London’s Soho neighborhood, Jeremy Lee and has developed a style of cooking with a strong regional British influence. With over three decades of experience and a student of chefs like Simon Hopkinson and Alistair Little, today Jeremy prides himself on ensuring his ingredients are of the highest quality and sourced from small-scale local producers, who often become close friends.

When did you realize that you were a chef?
This is an easy one! I grew up in a family where food has always been very important and I soon learnt its value. The rest is history..I didn’t plan it, it just happened!

What are the main principles that guide your cuisine?
I am convinced it has to be lovely, fun and with a lot of humor!

For how long have you been involved with Slow Food?
I have to admit I have been very ignorant for years, even if I have always supported the same principles and messages, which is what we do now at Quo Vadis

What will you bring to Cheese? How will you make Italians fall in love with British cuisine?
From abroad we tend to perceive Italian food as something very national, but in the end we understand that we defend the same principles here as well: Regionality, seasonality and locality are the main ingredients of British cuisine. I will amaze you, I promise! Food has to be delicious and fun when it comes to the table. Probably during the dinner I will prepare at Cheese, I will serve some mutton’s meat from Scotland…just delicious!

Have you noticed a change in people’s habits over the last years? (e.g. Are they more interested in certain things? …)
Of course people are much more interested in healthy food, in looking for natural and seasonal products, even if it is not so easy here in London. But things are changing. Until few years ago we did not have the abundance of choice we have now. The food movement is very relevant now and it is spreading from restaurants to art galleries, shows and books…

We all know that chefs have an important role in educating customers and improving their habits&hellip. How do you do that? Do they ever ask you for any advice?
I think chefs have the best possible weapon at their disposal: people relaxing at the table. It is amazing how much happier and enthusiastic people are when they are enjoying good food in a nice place, surrounded by nice people

What is the innovative creation you are most proud of, or the strangest dish you have ever cooked?
I am mad for the British Steamed Suet Pudding which is a steamed syrup or treacle pudding made from the fat around beef or calf’s kidney. It is a wonderful pudding, full of comfort and charm to warm the soul through the cold winter months. It is a great favourite pudding in Scotland.

If you’re coming to Cheese, you can try Jeremy’s cooking on Saturday September 21, with a dinner in the splendid setting of the Castello di Verduno. Places are limited, so don’t wait! Click here to book.

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