Marianne Lumb

MasterChef: The Professionals and Great British Menu finalist Marianne Lumb talks to Blossom Green about her culinary idols, favourite hangouts and love of truffles.

Marianne Lumb Photo

Where does your love of cooking come from?

I’ve always been fascinated by food – I love everything about it. My father was a butcher, so growing up we’d prep and cook dishes for the shop at home. He worked very hard and didn’t have a holiday for a decade, but when I was older we would holiday in the south of France. We’d drive and stop along the way. My food is influenced by those family trips to the Med.

Where do you go on your travels?

Next month I’m going to a vineyard in Istria, Croatia, for three days. Then I’ve got a lovely trip to Switzerland planned. I’ve just discovered long-lost family in Rougemont near Gstaad, in the canton where Gruyère is made; the mountains are so beautiful in summer. Then to Alba in Italy for the truffles, to have a proper sniff around – literally.

How has working outside Europe influenced your food?

Sydney was my first real experience of Asian cuisine and it turned everything upside down for me. Darlinghurst, where I lived, has some amazing Thai and Asian restaurants. I’d never had a proper Thai curry before and the flavour in Thai basil blew me away. We do venison ravioli with aubergines braised in miso with Thai basil oil. You could call it my signature dish.

Define your style of cooking

I tend to say that it’s modern European because that gives me a bit of leeway. I aim for it to be incredibly elegant but it has to be lick-the-plate delicious. I learnt that from my time working at Gravetye Manor.

Any favourite ingredients?

I love cheese – I think that’s my Swiss heritage. And truffles, which I’ve only begun to understand and appreciate over the past ten years as a chef. Then there’s artichokes. They’re often misunderstood and they’re a real labour of love, but I find them the most beautiful things. I’ve been using citrus fruits such as miyagawa and loads of blood oranges.

What about food heroes and chefs that excite you?

Brett Graham at The Ledbury and Simon Rogan are definitely heroes. And Alain Passard from Le Point; I love his food. Ana Roš in Slovenia is a food heroine. There are lots of really cool women coming up through the ranks, like Elizabeth Haigh who got a Michelin star for Pidgin who's set up on her own.

Eaten anywhere standout lately?

I loved Claude Bosi’s cooking at Hibiscus, but at Bibendum it’s another level. In Hong Kong, try Arcane. It’s a beautiful, small restaurant run by Shane Osborn from Pied à Terre. The food’s incredibly delicate and flavoursome. In New Zealand, Amisfield Vineyard and Bistro is the most idyllic restaurant in the world, sitting in an old gold- mining area. Vaughan Mabee’s menu is fresh and seasonal.

Where do you take the team after service?

The Cow’s great for last-minute drinks as it’s next door and has a top atmosphere. There’s also Cépages around the corner. Then The Chipping Forecast, a modern fish and chip place on All Saints Road that’s really great. Bao in Soho is good fun, too.

Marianne Lumb Photo

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