In partnership with the Guardian labs, we've delved into our address book and asked some of our much-loved chefs to bring you recipes that inspire, using their favourite and most-used Belazu ingredients. Find out more about your favourite chefs below, including what makes them tick, where they started, their restaurants, and their tips & tricks to elevate your everyday cooking. We've got an exciting chef line-up coming in the next few months that we can't wait to share with you, including Angela Hartnett, Sabrina Gidda, Tom Straker, Helen Graham.. the list keeps going! Grab yourself a copy of The Guardian to find their recipes inside.
THIS MONTH'S CHEF - BEN TISH
ABOUT THE CHEF
Born in Skegness, it was in 1991 at catering college where Ben first found his love for cooking. During this time, Jason Atherton opened a small hotel restaurant in the area and Ben started cooking there as part of his course. The pair became friends, and once Ben had finished his learning, he moved to London and took on a job at The Ritz where he would spend the next two years honing his classical cooking skills. His first head chef role came in the West Highlands, in the Crinan Hotel in 2002, which was awarded Best Gastro Pub in Scotland by The Independent.
Back in London, a few chance shifts in the kitchen of a restaurant named Salt Yard would lead to Ben spending the next thirteen years as Chef Director and Partner, growing the business to five restaurants, all of which went on to receive 2 AA rosettes and Bib Gourmands from the Michelin Guide for their modern Spanish menus. In 2019, it was time for Ben to open his own restaurant with his wife, Nykeeta. In August 2019, Ben opened Norma, occupying a four-story townhouse on Charlotte Street which took its influence from Sicilian-Moorish cuisine. The restaurant merged high-end quality with a relaxed vibe, and the result was hugely popular with rave reviews from the likes of Giles Coren (The Times) and Fay Maschler (then Evening Standard). Ben is also an accomplished food writer, having penned four cookbooks; Grill Smoke BBQ; Salt Yard: The Food & Wine of Spain and Italy; Moorish; and most recently, Sicilia: A Love Letter to the Food of Sicily.
In January 2022, Ben joined Cubitt House as Chef Director to oversee the menus of the group’s six existing sites and work on a series of new openings. Here, Ben’s menu takes inspiration from the diverse cooking styles of the Mediterranean with a focus on seasonality and the best of British produce.
q & a
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?
Getting a new restaurant off the ground is always a proud moment (particularly if it is well received!). It has so many elements; it never gets easier and curveballs are always thrown.
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO COMFORT DISH?
I love crispy chicken like a Milanese with grated parmesan and probably some good fries on the side and alioli. You can't beat it!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS AT THE MOMENT - THE ONES TO WATCH?
I like Mountain in Soho and The Parakeet in North London - both are relatively new. Also, Cafe Cecilia in Dalston- not as new but it's fast becoming a favourite.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO CREATING A GREAT DISH?
Start with the best quality, freshest seasonal produce, and you’re most of the way. I then look to use the least amount of elements to make the dish - colour/sweet/sour/texture and big flavour. That's it!
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP BELAZU PRODUCT PICKS? WHAT DO YOU USE THEM ON MOST?
Sour Cherry Molasses is currently widely used by our chefs - it's brilliant and we use it in all sorts of things. It's the new Pomegranate Molasses! Preserved lemons - as well as the usual, we like to slice and deep fry them. Fig Leaf Vinegar - my personal favourite and used in most of our house dressings - the perfect sweet/sour balance.