Pip Lacey After Hours

Angela Hartnett’s protégé has just opened her first restaurant in London’s King’s Cross. She talks to Fleur Rollet-Manus about the Alps, girls’ trips to Spain and what to order at Hicce

How would you describe your style of food?

I use healthy cooking processes, with some decadence thrown in. I didn’t set out for it to be ‘clean eating’; it just kind of happened that way. We do a lot of our cooking on barbecues and over direct flames, which is a naturally wholesome way to cook.

Have you travelled anywhere recently that’s inspired you?

Just before the restaurant opened, I got away to Seville with Selin Kiazim from Kyseri and Sabor’s Nieves Barragán. It was a trip full of good food, good wine and girls having a great time, trying as many tapas bars as they could. It gave me a lot of ideas.

Wood-fire cooking: where should we start?

Scrap the supermarket stuff and get some good wood and charcoal. The holm oak charcoal that we use from London Log Company is incredible. Use charcoal first and then add wood for flavouring. When it’s half lit it’ll let off the smoke, which seasons the protein. Things like sweetcorn will taste sweeter just by using better coals.

Which producers do you work with that we should try?

HG Walter in Barons Court is our main butcher and I’ve been using them for ages. They do all manner of great organic meat.

You’re a keen snowboarder. Where do you hit the slopes?

Courchevel. I did a season there and met some great people.

And where do you eat when you’re there?

Azimut is a fabulous restaurant in Le Praz. It serves upmarket mountain food offering more than saucisson et frites. And there’s a sandwich van in Val Thorens we visit after a day on the slopes that fills chunky baguettes with steak hacheé and mayo. It’s a ritual for our group.

And somewhere to stay?

Last year I stayed at Le Portetta in Courchevel, which was incredible – everyone should stay there at least once in their life. Usually I’ll rent a chalet through Powder N Shine with friends. We’re really last minute and disorganised and yet they manage to find us a brilliant place every time.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten lately?

I helped Selin Kiazim open Kyseri last year and I was making this beef manti dish, but I didn’t eat all the components together. I went back and had the complete dish and it blew my mind. The black pudding croquettes and pasta from Barrafina at Coal Drops, are superb, too.

What did you learn from working with Angela Hartnett?

I picked up so much at Murano it’s hard to narrow it down. Angela taught me a lot about running a restaurant and how to listen to what people want, how to adapt and how to not become arrogant. From her I learnt not to over complicate things and to let ingredients just taste good. Simplicity always wins for me.

We’ve got a table at Hicce – what should we order?

I’d recommend the Ibérico baby ribs when they’re on the menu and the Wagyu if they’re not. I’m proud of everything we make. And just make sure that you finish off with the creème brûlée.

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