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Chefs: The Interview

Pre-prepare a questionnaire of approximately twenty two roughly chopped hot and cold questions making sure to cover a healthy diet of culture, lifestyle, travel and industry related themes. 

Choose your favourite chefs in the world, making sure you mix exciting names from around the UK with a sprinkling of names from further afield, then send your questions out via email. (If you have a phone handy, feel free to use one of those.) 

Leave chefs to answers questions for up to two months, letting their thoughts marinate. 

Once answers have returned, sort each chef’s answers by question, making sure you savour the passionate caps of Bo Bech and Neil Rankin’s thoughts on rocket. You should be left with among other things: Nathan Outlaw’s Star Wars obsession, Paul Ainsworth on courgettes, Michael Carr drinking an expensive bottle of wine through a straw and surprisingly, a unified love of Mcdonald’s, Belstaff jackets and the customer not always being right. 

Once the best questions and answers have been narrowed down, serve over a few fresh pages. Excess answers can be saved for an extended version online. 

Print with a side of regular Essential Journal features and enjoy.

Who is the coolest chef in the world and why?

When I think of cool chefs I think of Keith Floyd and Anthony Bourdain. They were fucking badasses who loved to have a good time. RIP. – Andy Taylor

Matt Orlando from Amass, Copenhagen is a super cool person and someone I admire. He goes to his restaurant every day and is just so happy to be there, is super kind to everyone he meets and runs one of the most sustainable restaurants in the world. He walks the walk. Of course it goes without saying that his food is spectacular. – Ben Shewry


I love the work of Alice Waters. Her commitment to sustainability is heroic. Her restaurant Chez Panisse in California is one of the best places to eat in America. Serving delicious seasonal food from her vegetable gardens and local produce. – Clodagh McKenna

Gaggan Anand. He is by far the biggest rockstar Indian chef. He’s brave and unashamedly bold with indian flavours and dishes, and I love the level of theatre he brings to the same food that I’ve grown up eating. He makes dinner into a party, and that’s what it should always be. – Dhruv Mittal

He probably thinks of himself as more of a cook these days, and almost certainly wouldn’t consider himself to be cool, but I’m a big fan of Simon Hopkinson. He has this effortless style of cooking that combines classical technique and knowledge, paired with an almost paternal care for the ingredients he works with that speaks volumes for his own love of food and eating. His style isn’t really innovative or high concept, but he makes the kind of food I want to eat, and for me there’s nothing cooler than that. I have a pipe dream of being invited around to his house for a long boozy Sunday lunch. – Fergus Jackson

Alex Atala. To start, look at him. I was lucky enough for him to come to eat at Native. All the chefs were super nervous, myself included. He came into the kitchen to say hello and he just had this magical aura about him, he greeted us all like old friends he hadn’t seen for ages and everyone was immediately relaxed and calm. I’ve never seen somebody do that to a room full of people before so that’s why he’s the coolest… And the fact that he could probably take on James Bond in a fight and win. – Ivan Tisdall-Downes

Coolest chef in the world for me would have to be James Henry of the former Bones restaurant, Paris. – Kian Samyani

Fergus Henderson. Fergus changed the way in which my generation cook and the way we think about food. He is an incredibly witty and eloquent writer and is always fabulously dressed, no matter what the occasion. He is a true inspiration. – Merlin Labron-Johnson

Marco Pierre White, he is the rock star of the cooking world. – Michael Carr

As far as I’m concerned Keith Floyd would have won this title. He’s probably the person responsible for starting the whole cooking on TV thing.  It’s not easy cooking on television, especially when you do it for the first time but he made it look easy and he was both entertaining and educational. He had a true love of food and cooking and I find watching him, even now, inspirational. – Nathan Outlaw

I really admire Christian Puglisi from Relae in Copenhagen. Not only is he an incredible chef, he’s also created an ecosystem of innovative, interconnected food businesses that all support one another, contribute to one another, and do the right thing by their suppliers, their staff and the environment. – Nicholas Balfe

There are many cool chefs in the world right now but one guy that has caught my eye is Robert Sandberg in Denmark – he is very on trend. As well as being cool he cooks like an old soul; proper food you just want to eat time and time again. – Paul Ainsworth

Maybe Kobe Desmerault at Chambre Separee in Ghent – He always seems to be one step ahead of the creative curve and in an almost unassuming way. His interpretation of classic dishes and technique actually progresses the dining scene in a most intelligent way. – Sam Buckley

Dario Cecchini from Panzano in Chianti. He is more of a butcher but is also a brilliant cook. His shop is well known and his energy and passion is second to none. Expect loud AC/DC coming from the speakers in the shop and the best meat and salamis to be found. His restaurant above the shop is a great place for entertainment, perfectly cooked meat and lots of delicious wine. – Theo Randall

Rene Redzepi. The way he continually reinvents himself and what he does for the industry is amazing! He must be able to afford a lamborghini but he still rides his bike to work each day. – Tom Anglesea

It has to be Jason Atherton. Smashing the business side of the restaurant industry and out of somewhere has found a top wardrobe buyer. Swanky as hell. Who would have thought? – Ellis Barrie

Anthony Bourdain, who sadly took his own life this year. Anthony was an inspiration to so many chefs across the world. He was a chef, restaurateur, journalist, food writer and author. Growing up as a young chef, Kitchen Confidential, a book in which Bourdain wrote about his career in cooking was one of the first books I read. Instantly I connected with it. What made Bourdain so great was that he would not only eat in fancy high end restaurants but travelled the world exploring different cultures, cuisines and exploring the lives of different people. Not only did he want to learn about food and cuisine but also the connection food has with lives and cultures which is entirely fascinating and inspiring. – Daniel Smith

Nuno Mendes. Coolest food style and his dress style is pretty cool too. He basically oozes coolness. – Robin Gill

I think maybe Rene Redzepi is the coolest chef. I think he is like a psychopath. He is not willing to really compromise his vision and he’s exactly what he wants to do and I think he’s trying to elevate the culinary tapestry of our world. I don’t think anyone has done what he has done in our lifetime, or my culinary lifetime. The food in Copenhagen, and that Nordic cuisine thing, although people make a joke about it being a fad or a trend, he put a country on a map. I think that is a very cool thing, something that you can be very proud of. I think there’s so many cool chefs in Copenhagen and the food there is fucking amazing. I think Rene was at the forefront of putting his country, not his restaurant, but his country on the map. – Matty Matheson

David Chang from Momofoku because he is always doing something outside the box, something different and exciting. He brought bao buns back to life and he breathes life into food in an amazing way. – Ramael Scully

Interviews by Will HALBERT & Davey BRETT