Kitchen Tips

Q&A with chef Peter Gordon

In between creating menus and cooking at his restaurants both here and in London, Peter Gordon is travelling the world for inspiration, filming TV shows and writing cookbooks. We manage to catch him for a quick Q&A.

Do you visit Spain often for menu inspiration?

I generally visit once a year. There was a period when I’d go two or three times, but I take less holidays these days, unfortunately.

Is there a region of Spain where the food excites you the most?

The food is so regional in Spain that every area I’ve visited has its own excitement. Plus, depending on which season you visit, there will be times of abundance (spring and autumn) and times of scarcity – winter.

What authentic Spanish ingredient would be a must-have to create great tapas in a New Zealand kitchen?

Chorizo. There are many regional varieties in Spain but generally there are two types: one is for cooking and the other is a fermented, cured and smoked sausage, more like salami, which you slice and don’t need to cook.
Gambas al ajillo - a traditional Spanish dish that's easy and tasty.

Do you have a favourite Spanish ingredient and how do you like to use it?

Pimenton, also known as smoked paprika. Sizzle it in butter and add that to mashed potatoes. Toss prawns in it and fry in Spanish olive oil, or mix it into a meat-based stew.

Is there any international cuisine you’d like to see get more attention?

I’ve been involved with two Turkish restaurants since 2000 – it’s a much underrated cuisine with huge regional variation.

You’ve been working on a new cookbook?

Yes, Savour: Sensational Salads for all Seasons. It’s one-plate meals, featuring salads with bold flavours. It’s got vegetarian dishes with things like eggplant, quinoa, gem lettuce, tomato and pistachio. There’s red meat-based salads too, using things like poached veal with anchovy aioli and potatoes. It comes out in April.

What would be one of your signature dishes?

Grilled scallops with sweet chilli sauce and crème fraîche. I first created my sweet chilli sauce at The Sugar Club in London in 1995 and have been making it ever since.

You’ve had London restaurant The Providores for around 15 years now. What’s the key to long-term success in the industry?

Sticking to our guns and not following trends unless they actually mean something personal. Retaining good staff, buying quality produce and being the best restaurant in Europe to sample New Zealand wines (we have the largest restaurant list in Europe and only serve still wines from New Zealand).

What are a few New Zealand ingredients that you love to use in London?

New Zealand lamb, feijoas (I have a tree at home in East London and got three tiny fruit last December), karengo seaweed and pumpkin.
Find Peter's recipe for Gambas Al Ajillo here