Barbados Food and Wine Festival Q&A with Chef Fergus Henderson

Britain's father of nose-to-tail cooking talks flying fish, Soul, and Britain's national dish.
Chef Fergus Henderson of St. JOHN Bar and Restaurant.

Arthur Bovino

Chef Fergus Henderson of St. JOHN Bar and Restaurant.

Spend time with Chef Fergus Henderson of St. John fame and you'll find him quite philosophical. One moment he's discussing Jedi cooking, the next, the potential that lunch brings to the day.

After an offal demo at the 2010 Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival the chef took some time to talk about his favorite music to dance to, offal preparations from other cultures, his upcoming new hotel, and his favorite sandwich in London. Read on for this and more in the brief interview below.


What aspect of the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival have you been most excited about?
The food is extraordinary. I mean, everyone genuinely loves eating and drinking, and it is heaven. Though it’s a bit warm maybe for my pink nature.


Is there an ingredient in Barbados that you’ve been the most excited by?
I like the flying fish sandwich.


You were really getting down at Wispers the other night; what’s your favorite kind of music to dance to?
Soul. Yes, I suffered a bit from dancing, but I quite enjoyed it. I probably should know better.


Is there an offal ingredient that you haven’t used that you’re most excited to use?
There’s not much I haven’t tried. Genitalia, I don’t want to try. That doesn’t appeal to me. We all have our limits.


Is there a preparation of offal that you’ve learned from another culture that you’re most enamored of?
Yes, one thing about travel, people see me and think, “Ah, Mr. Offal” which is lovely, but I like fish too sometimes, Well, I spent twenty-four hours in Singapore at some point, and four people invited me for pigs’ ear stew there, which is quite high in garlic, you see. Four big bowls of pigs’ ears stew was a little heady for me, but delicious, wonderful stuff.


Who is doing the most interesting things with nose-to-tail cooking outside St. John?
Oh, lots of chefs. It’s interesting. People are doing quite a lot of interesting things. Offal seems to be awful around.


Which do you think is the British national dish, Fish 'n Chips or Curry?
Neither. Beef.


Do you have a favorite sandwich in London?
Oh, it has been a while since I had a sandwich. Well, no, Joe’s Cafe. There’s a bar at this Italian coffee shop in Soho where I go every day to have toasted ham and cheese. It’s very simple, but it always hits the spot perfectly.


What are you most excited about doing with the new St. John Hotel that you haven’t done at St. John?
It’s a natural progression from table to bed. It’s going to be cheeky. It’s sort of just going to be St. John, but in a hotel, and you’ll see, it will be interesting. Food, and the restaurant, and, well, cheeky.

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