By Annalisa D’Alessio
World Food Tour caught up with Laura Petersen, head pastry chef at The Coal Shed London. Read our exclusive interview with Laura, and learn about her inspirations, her favourite dish to cook and her best-kept cooking secret.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the food business?
Laura Petersen: I am self-taught, having never studied food at college but fashion. I took a gap year, and, in this time, I got an opportunity to do work experience in a local restaurant, where they then offered me a job. After that I never looked back!
Q: What would you have been if you hadn’t been a chef?
LP: I was studying fashion in hopes of working as a buyer or stylist.
Q: What is your favourite dish to cook?
LP: At home my favourite meal to cook is curry! I love anything spicy. At work, at the moment would have to be our rhubarb soufflé, so satisfying.
Q: What are the five ingredients you always keep in your fridge?
LP: Milk, eggs, avocado, cheese and siracha.
Q: What’s your go-to restaurant in London and why?
LP: For me it has to be KILN, amazing Thai grill! We always eat nearly the whole menu it’s too good to miss.
Q: Who are your inspirations, both in and out of the kitchen?
LP: For me my mum and grandma! Both strong women who have brought me up and taught me all they know about cooking.
Q: Who is your chef idol?
LP: For me, after spending some time at Blue Hill Stone Barns it would have to be Dan Barber, a restaurant built on the Rockefeller estate, just north of New York. Which lives off its own land. Farm to table—read The Third Plate!
Q: Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment in your career?
LP: I think it would have to be meeting and cooking for Pierre Koffmann during the opening of The Coal Shed London.
Q: You can only live on one cuisine for the rest of your life. Which one would it be?
LP: Mexican! And if I could eat it in Mexico, even better.
Q: What is your favourite food fad and why?
LP: Avocado! So versatile. Not having a major sweet tooth it’s my favourite breakfast.
Q: What’s your best-kept cooking secret or tip?
LP: Always be patient especially with pastry, you cannot rush things!
Q: Do you have any future predictions for the food industry?
LP: I feel things will carry on in the direction they are going, more informal service and relaxed atmospheres. Sharing food is a great way to bring people together, it’s something we are known for at all of our restaurants.
Q: Do you have any exciting plans and projects coming up in the future?
LP: Keep a look out for me at a few demonstrations over the summer—at Eat & Drink Festival, and Foodies Festival in Brighton. Also, a pretty special recipe of mine will be featured in the May issue of delicious. magazine.