Terry is a chef and one half of the London pop up restaurant Check On. His business partner is musician George Craig. They are currently writing a cook book.
Interview: Michelle Sullivan
Photography: Damian Weilers
Art Direction: Beatrice Hurst
What did you learn from your time as a sous chef at Hix?
Terry: Food integrity and using good produce. Where the food comes from is of massive importance. Source local. What we do at the tip of the iceberg trickles down; so if we are not buying from good local farmers, then they will have to diversity and wont be able to concentrate on what they are good at - which is giving us this amazing quality produce and putting back into the economy.
What would you say has been a big lesson from this year?
Terry: I know it sounds cliché, but just never give up. Doing what we do, if the love is there, you just can’t give up. You know what I mean? A good chef lives and breathes what they do. My day off is really no different to a work day: I cook. There’s nothing better than cooking a slow Sunday roast, where you are peeling carrots and potatoes, and drinking a glass of wine. It's important to take the time to do these things.
My dad cooks his special annual Christmas cake every December. He marinades the fruit in brandy all year and it’s the best you’ve ever had. If I can’t be home for Christmas, he will always send me some to wherever I am in the world. The taste is all because of the process.
Terry: What’s cool about that story is the relationship that has built between the food, you and your dad. Sorry to be cliché, but food brings people together. Think of all those amazing times that you’ve had with friends and family; the main thing that is a constant is the food. We all come together for Christmas dinners, Birthday dinners, and the food is a big part of those memories. You will eat something in two weeks when you are not even thinking about food, or me, or this interview, and you will be like - this reminds me of such and such a place, with so and so. It’s those kind of memories that just make it so worthwhile for me.
What was the process like of setting up a new business? How did you go about it?
Terry: Well basically, I don’t know. It wasn’t really like we made the conscious decision to “set up a business”. We pretty much went renegade to start. We just advertised ourselves and used our mate’s restaurant. We are learning massively as we go. It’s new to both of us. We recently did a food festival and they were saying we needed certain certificates; which we had no idea about!
Was that the festival where you and George dressed up as chickens?
Yeah! It’s called Feast Festival. We did the Eggs and Soldiers dish. We did two thousand of them! We had two thousand eggs on my living room floor; it was a nightmare. George and I sat there for two full days – 18 hours a day - listening to random music and prepping the eggs. We listened to Spotify constantly; It’s like the radio. Music is a big part of what we do, because what we listen to is very reflective of what stage of the prep we are at.
What do you consider a lovely life?
Terry: Being able to cook, but have a work/ life balance. I don’t think I’ve ever had that and I’ve always been envious of people who do. I don’t think I would be able to work 9 to 5, because I’m not wired that way. I want people to pick up a book that we write, and cook from it. Everyone should learn to cook. I think it would solve a lot of problems.
In what way?
Terry: Cooking saves money. If people cook buying real British ingredients, it’s good for the economy. I know a lot of people who say they don’t have time, but you just have to make time! By the time you go shopping for all these processed foods, it’s bad for your health and it is still bad for your wallet. Don’t get me wrong I’m well guilty of getting a take away, but I want to encourage people to cook more.
What are the main ingredients I should keep on hand?
Terry: Butter, eggs, milk, flour and tinned tomato. If you have a tinned tomato, nice dried pasta and some slices of garlic - then you’ve got a meal.
What wine would you have with that?
Terry: A light rioja. I also think it’s important to know simple store cupboard meals that you can make.
Terry: Food that you’ve already got in your cupboard, that you can use to knock up a meal. An “end of the month” section in your cupboard - you know, that day where you’ve got no money because you’re waiting for pay-day. I like to put together recipes for what you can knock together, but still have the meal be tasty and good for you. I always keep anchovies in the cupboard. I love anchovies! You know what I like to do? I like to mix a little salt in the anchovies, add a little olive oil, and just have it with a bit of fresh pasta – spaghetti is best. Put a little rocket in there. That would be really nice. Put on a Nina Simone record and you’re set.