Flash-grilled: Lucy Timm

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with Lucy Timm head chef of  Provençal-rooted London restaurant Royale

Related tags Chef French cuisine

The head chef of Provençal-rooted London restaurant Royale on her love of music and how it complements her cooking, and the time she was nearly caught up in a tornado.

What was your first industry job?
During the summer breaks in-between university, I was working at a catering business, mostly peeling hundreds of quails eggs. You definitely learn patience doing that.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I’d like to say DJing in clubs or on NTS radio. Music is another big passion of mine. I used to DJ in a couple of clubs in Norwich when I was studying at university, such an amazing and fun experience. Over lockdown I did a few live stream DJ sets on Twitch, mainly to lift people's spirits, let loose and have fun over the gloomy periods of 2020. I now also put together the restaurant music for Royale.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Asma Khan. After watching her episode on Chef's Table, it was really inspiring to see how she operates her kitchen and restaurant. Her kitchen is hierarchy-free and is made up of self taught cooks, women who have only trained from watching their mothers and grandmothers cook. That sense of traditionalism and passing down skills and techniques through generations is really inspirational. I admire how she employs women who may have never had a career and given them a voice and confidence through cooking.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Not having a sharpie.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Once when I was doing a brunch service and a customer once requested to have a precisely boiled egg at four minutes and 30 seconds.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Hearty, humble and honest cooking with big attention to flavour.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Haven’t had one yet… that I know of. 

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
It's not really kitchen equipment but I now class it as a must have item in any kitchen I work in, and that’s my speakers. Cooking with music in the background relaxes me, gets me pumped for a service and puts myself and colleagues in a good mood.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Confit duck leg, pomme puree, boozy prunes and jus. 

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte. 

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
MasterChef​, mainly The Professionals​; always love watching the skills test.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
St Germain aka Ludovic Navarre, a French music producer and DJ, he would definitely provide some great jazzy beats; Lulu Peyraud so she supplies the wine; RuPaul Andre Charles the drag queen for some sass; and Phoebe Waller Bridge the writer and actress, loved her in Fleabag.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Before I was in kitchens I was part of a production team, filming an off road rally racing series called King of the Hammers in America. There was one particular episode that we shot in Oklahoma during tornado season. The first day filming at the track, a storm started. My phone started kicking off with tornado warning alerts and flash flooding notifications. The panic kicked in as it started hailing and people were running for their cars trying to get off the site. It felt like a tornado could drop at any moment. There were warning sirens going off in the town, it was mad, like a seen from Twister​. Luckily that evening it was just a long storm, with no tornados. Maybe not that close to death, but felt very dangerous.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Mick’s Garage in Hackney Wick, it never fails to supply great music and atmosphere.

Tipple of choice?
Old Fashioned, always.

What do you consider your signature dish?
At the moment I would probably have to say my green bean salad. Italian fine green beans and butter beans dressed in a confit garlic vinaigrette. Served with fried Lilliput capers and lemon zest.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Working in kitchens isn’t for the faint hearted, I believe in order to strive and do well you need to be able to relax and remember to have fun with what you are doing. It can be hard work and a push at times, but during those moments take a step back, breath, and remember to enjoy it. Always work clean, as a messy room is a messy mind.


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