Flash-grilled: Gemma Ellis

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Gemma Ellis Clifford's

Related tags Chefs

The Harwood Arms-trained chef opened Clifford’s early this year just off Fleet Street in central London. She recently launched a late night bar serving kitchen-focused cocktails and seasonal bar snacks.

What was your first job?
Washing dishes in a pub.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
McVitie’s Golden Syrup cakes.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Cha Ca La Vong on a backstreet in Hanoi. One dish on the menu: monkfish, noodles and herbs, cooked at the table. Magical.     

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Angela Hartnett. A great chef and not just a great female chef.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
I would make cheese.

What is your biggest regret?
No regrets apart from wasting my money on a lot of bad wine.

Pet hate in the kitchen?

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Could we prepare a meal for the dog? We obliged.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Sole Véronique.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Classic, simple, nostalgic.

Most overrated food?
Triple cooked chips.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Novelty plates.  

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Our worst review has mysteriously vanished from the internet. Nothing to do with us, I promise... 

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Delia Smith. As a child, I watched her cooking show relentlessly. I wrote to her aged five asking why she put so many capers in everything.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Just say yes.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Boning knife.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
I’m very rarely at home but occasionally a bacon sandwich with the best streaky bacon, Fen Farm Dairy butter and a freshly baked white farmhouse loaf.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Eating bowlfuls of cherries with my grandparents.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s hard to fail but it’s worse never to have tried to succeed.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Last month I was hit by a taxi cycling home from work and I was very, very, lucky.   

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Garlic and Shots on Frith Street. You probably won’t bump into anyone you know there.

Tipple of choice?
Right now… Cyril Zang’s Cidre2Table. Game changing cider made from 69 varieties of apples.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Weiner Schnitzel, cranberry sauce & Sauerkraut.

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