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Skye Gyngell in London is among the favorite restaurants and the future of British dining

Written by Travel Adventures

Skye feels “lucky to meet a lot of chefs, and it seems there is now much more interest in the connections between food and its source, and how food is grown. Seasonality has become much more important to people. I’m always optimistic, but whether there’s a huge sea change? Who knows. There’s a lot that needs to change before that happens, but I also feel, in a small yet hugely influential way, that chefs can influence a lot.” Skye points to two other leading women in food: “Just look at Ruth [Rogers] and Rose [Gray] at the River Café. They really changed the way we eat; even things like Covelo Nero you can get in Tesco Express now, and no one had heard of it years ago. Even in Italy, most people wouldn’t have heard of it. They literally brought the seeds back from Italy and gave them to a farm to grow.” She feels passionately that “if we just talk about something then that is the thing that brings it into the mainstream. Alice Waters from Chez Panisse always talks about having a revolution but making sure it’s delicious. I think we need to just keep plugging away and understand that the planet’s health and our personal health can’t really be separated. We can’t be hugely healthy on a dying planet and vice versa, so I remain ever hopeful.”

Cafe Cecilia

Cafe CeciliaMaureen M Evans

Osip

OsipMaureen Evans

Skye may have little free time, but there are certain chefs and restaurants she loves to visit when she has a few hours off to herself. “Merlyn Johnson at Osip down in Somerset. He is just the most beautiful cook. His approach to food is so intelligent. I love what Tomos Parry is doing a Brat and Mountain and James Lowe at Lyles.” Having moved to London from Australia via Paris in 1983, she has witnessed a huge metamorphosis within the British food scene. “It is so exciting now; it’s changed beyond recognition in the last decade. I think London is probably the most exciting food city in the world now.” As a West Londoner, she is a regular at The River Café, and “I love Max Rocha at Café Cecilia and Jeremy Lee at Quo Vadis: in terms of warmth and conviviality, that’s probably the cosiest, most fun restaurant to go to in London. And I love what Anna Tobias is doing at Café Deco. There are just so few hours and so many great restaurants.”

Skye Gyngell

Skye GyngellKristin Perers

Skye is incredibly humble and self-effacing but, truth is, she is a huge part of that sensational contemporary British food scene she speaks of, a chef who brought so many of the current food philosophies we now take for granted to the forefront and, yet, she is nothing but complimentary and celebratory of the generation coming up behind her. Though with Spring, Heckfield Place and Spring Garden RHS to contend with, she is hardly slacking off and tells me that, she’ll do it “as long as I feel I’m doing it well. You know, you grow a business one plate at a time and I never want to do anything that isn’t wonderful.”

RHS Chelsea runs from 21-25 May 2024.

 

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