Hampstead is Yotam Ottolenghi’s eighth deli and restaurant, which includes the remarkable ROVI and NOPI. His London establishments celebrate the coming together of neighbourhood and food, drawing in diverse influences and ingredients from around the world.
FALCON AT OTTOLENGHI
We have always loved the idea of your 'Test Kitchen'. Can you tell us a little more about it and what it means to you?
The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen is a place in North London, where we test all our recipes. But...it is not only a place; the OTK is people. A bunch of chefs, recipe developers, food writers who have one shared passion - food. Together we cook, converse, and give each other feedback. OTK is a creative hub for all things Ottolenghi: recipes, cookbooks, restaurant and deli menus, events. It isn’t about the lab, or some food engineering space - the set-up is just like in the normal home kitchen, the idea being that the dishes could be easily recreated in a home environment.
It must be a very exciting feeling when you're opening a new location. What are you most looking forward to about Ottolenghi arriving in Hampstead?
It is indeed a great feeling, seeing how ideas, plans and designs, and, most importantly new menu, all come to life. I think I am looking forward most to starting a relationship with a new neighbourhood – Hampstead has such a distinct feeling of community. Meeting people and making them happy through food is all Ottolenghi is about. On the first day, we had so many people popping in, just to see who we are and have a chat. I find these conversations priceless.
We're thrilled to hear that you're utilising our newly launched Cake Stand and Fruit Bowl in Hampstead, is there anything in particular that draws you to the Falcon design aesthetic?
Simplicity of the design and clean lines really drew my attention. When creating our cake and salad displays, we like to mix vintage stands with more modern designs as if every dish has its own character. So these pieces were perfect for us, and I love the colour palette.
Can you let us in on any favourite ingredient/s you're enjoying cooking with at the moment?
Being in the middle of the winter season, cabbage is one ingredient we cook a lot with. It might be perceived as not a very ‘sexy’ vegetable, but when given time and right treatment - roasting, char-grilling or braising, it has an allure of simplicity. Paired with oil infused with warming spices it can get you through wintry gloom.
What, in your mind, is at the heart of Ottolenghi food?
I would say Ottolenghi food is plentiful, bold, “sunny” flavours layered with different textures, some kind of Middle Eastern twist (although not always) and marked with individuality of the chefs I am working with. At the heart of it is always joy and sharing this feeling with others.
Where do you love to eat, drink, and source ingredients in your local area?
I am local to North London, which has such an interesting and diverse offer when it comes to the restaurants and shops. My favourite shop is Parkway Greens, in Camden Town where I buy my daily groceries. When it comes to evening, I must say that sometimes I am partial to ordering takeaway from Master Wei and enjoying this great food with my family, in the comfort of my own home. Their smacked cucumber salad is to die for.
Photo Credit: Ottolenghi Ltd