Flash-grilled: Maura Baxter

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Maura Baxter executive chef at London brasserie 65a in Spitalfields on the constant evolution of cooking

Related tags Maura Baxter 65a Spitalfields London Restaurant Chef

The executive chef at London brasserie 65a in Spitalfields on the constant evolution of cooking, taking inspiration from Marco Pierre White, and the importance of a good knife.

What was your first industry job?
Kitchen porter at the Slieve Russell Hotel in County Cavan, Ireland. 

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
A producer or a grower.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Marco Pierre White. He was my earliest inspiration. I loved his bold approach to food and he made the kitchen seem a desirable place to be.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Laziness and disorganisation.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
One gentleman walking right into the middle of the kitchen and asking if it was the loo.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Seasonal, produce-led cooking using classical techniques.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Apart from one local paper’s review in Ireland that spent most of the piece talking about his favourite restaurant just up the road, I’ve been fairly lucky on that front!

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Accept you are starting from nothing and take your time to learn. So many young chefs try to get ahead of themselves. Listen and learn. Write down and keep all your recipes over the years.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Good knives are about the only thing I’d say. I’m not big on fancy equipment, I think it often stifles creativity. A good chef can produce great food out of the most basic kitchen.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A beautifully cooked piece of turbot.

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
River Café, specifically the pumpkin and ricotta ravioli in sage butter.

What’s your favourite fast food joint?
A cheeky Nando's!

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Show me a dish (one that actually works) that’s truly original. Chefs are magpies by nature. We all feed off each other’s creativity, and we love sharing ideas. The wheel is rarely reinvented. I take inspiration from so many great chefs, as they have from others too. It’s constant evolution.

MasterChef ​or Great British Menu​?
Great British Menu.

What’s the most overrated food?
Nothing really. Anything done well is fine by me.

You’re restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Marco Pierre White, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Noel Gallagher.

What’s your earliest food memory?
My mum’s madeira cake made with eggs from our own chickens.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Came off a horse, aged 15, and dragged along the road as my foot was caught in the reins.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Ten Bells, Spitalfields.

What’s your tipple of choice?
Red wine or cider.

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
Hardly obscure, but Guinness and oysters.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
Our dauphinoise potatoes at 65a to share.

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