We sat down with Canadian born Anna Hansen, MBE; renowned chef and owner of The Modern Pantry restaurant in London. We spoke with Anna about her cooking inspirations, home kitchen and favourite appliances – the latter being a tricky question for a chef known for her creative, fusion style!
What inspired you to become a chef?
I have many happy memories of being in the kitchen with my Danish grandmother, who first taught me respect for fresh produce and homemade food. I’ve always loved the creativity of cooking, and the freedom of having no cultural or culinary boundaries – I plunder the world’s larder and I enjoy using unexpected ingredients and bold flavours.
How have your previous chef experiences shaped your cooking?
My first proper cheffing job at Margot and Fergus Henderson’s first restaurant, the French House Dining Room in London in the early nineties taught me how to cook simple food really well – the butchery skills I learned during my time there was invaluable. My next role was a completely different environment, working with fellow New Zealander Peter Gordon, the legendary fusion chef. Working with Gordon at both Green Street and The Sugar Club, I learned to trust my instincts with flavours and had full reign to be creative. Both experiences taught me so much and really emboldened me as a chef.
What else influences your cooking?
I’ve always been inspired by cooking with local, seasonal produce and I’m committed to sourcing sustainably. This in itself brings its own challenges and invariably influences my cooking. I’m proud that my restaurant, The Modern Pantry holds the maximum three stars awarded by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
What’s your kitchen at home like?
The layout is completely open plan with a large island, which is ideal for busy family life and entertaining. Having a variety of different appliances was important to me and suits my fusion style of cooking, allowing me to be creative at home in my day-to-day cooking and recipe creation.
Do you have a favourite appliance at home?
That’s just not the type of question you can ask a chef and get a straight answer! I love the induction hob, it’s genius. The accuracy of the steam combination oven is great – to within one degree of temperature and one degree of humidity. A lot of commercial ovens don’t even achieve that! My tepan hob is well-used – it’s great for burgers which we do a lot of at home, and we couldn’t live without the dishwasher. So essentially, all of them!
A tepan-yaki doesn’t seem like a standard home appliance – what can you use it for?
You’d be surprised at how versatile and accessible it is. Our Miele tepan features two separately controlled areas and short heat up times thanks to its induction technology. As I mentioned, it’s great for family favourites such as burgers, but can also be used to make oriental noodle dishes or to prepare fresh scallops, as well as searing meat or grilling vegetables.
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