Stevie Parler After Hours

Having cut his teeth at River Café and Moro, Parle now has six restaurants, most majoring in Italian cuisine. He talks to Imogen Lepere about negronis, fine produce and where he buys his doughnuts

Where do you travel for inspiration?

I just got back from Mumbai and Goa with my children, which was superb. Indian cooking is super regional, which I love. In Goa, the Portuguese influence is strong. The vindaloo is slow cooked with lots of vinegar, which you often find in Portuguese food. In Mumbai I had a top meal at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay, a canteen that serves Gujarati food for about £2. They make incredible roti out of different types of flour and top them with a clear ghee that the kids adored.

What sort of food did you eat growing up?

My parents got me into cooking and we always travelled a lot, which influenced our food. They loved the River Café books and Madhur Jaffrey’s, too. My grandfather had a house in Spain and whenever I eat a blood orange it reminds me of those delicious trips.

But you chose Italian food for your restaurants. Why so?

I believe it’s the kind of food everyone really wants to eat, all of the time. It’s simple food, but that simplicity is incredibly sophisticated. Because of the restraint shown in Italian cooking, each ingredient has to be of the highest quality and perfectly cooked.

And what is your favourite ingredient?

Good olive oil is really important to me and we’ve just started producing our own. When choosing yours, make sure the oil is cold-pressed, harvested from a single estate and was bottled during the most recent November.

Which suppliers do you particularly rate?

Almost all my favourites are around Bermondsey Market. Natoora is one of my biggest suppliers for biodynamic vegetables and Italian produce. It has to be Neal’s Yard for cheese and The Butchery is great for meat. I’m also partial to a pint from The Kernel Brewery.

Where do you take your brigade to eat?

Bread Ahead in Soho does incredible doughnuts. I’m also involved in London Union street-food markets and I love spotting future trends in the stalls. Dinerama in Shoreditch is the best – my favourite casual restaurants have come from here: Breddos Tacos, Smokestak, Thunderbird and Burger & Beyond, which does the best patties in London.

How about for a drink?

We often go to Bar Termini for a pre-dinner aperitif. The negroni is great and you can book ahead, so you’re not stuck wandering through Soho without a plan.

Which restaurants are on your hit list to visit?

I’ve never been to Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana and am keen to visit Noma’s new location. April Bloomfield is the best cook I know – she’s so uncompromising and obsessed with flavour. I’d love to revisit The Spotted Pig in New York to have the amazing burger again and really want to get to The Hearth & Hound in LA.

We’re dining at Pastaio. What should we order?

The fried mozzarella with a prosecco slushy, followed by agnoli pasta stuffed with game. The pistachio ice cream is bloody delicious, too.

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