On the 13th March 2015 The Balcony Gardener, Isabelle Palmer, will host her third workshop ‘How to’ Spring Window Boxes and Containers.
This workshop, which will be held in Isabelle’s London apartment, will offer a demonstration, and talk about trends, care advice, display options and also ways to style with your interior and exterior design. Attendees will also be treated to a sumptuous lunch from former Garden Museum Café Head Chef, Sorrel Scott.
We had a chat with Sorrel to find out a little more about her, her experience, and also exciting plans for the workshop.
What encouraged your love of cooking?
My earliest food memory is devouring my Grandad’s stilton ploughmans, pickled onion and all – he was incredibly proud of this bird-like 3 year old! My mum was a caterer and I loved helping her in the kitchen be it the dreaded task of peeling peppers or graduating to putting the final flourishes on the wedding cake. Then working in various strands of the food industry (deli, cafes, recipe hotline) has furthered this relish for fabulous food providing me with a wealth of experience to start “Sorrel Scott”. I really love cooking for friends – it is seldom a busman’s holiday, more a chance to experiment and enjoy sitting and devouring with them.
What is your cooking philosophy / style?
Seasonal, local, ideally grown by me or family & friends. Big, bold, rich and earthy dishes that allow the natural flavour of the ingredients to sing and be showcased. I love baking and I enjoy using vegetables such as courgettes, squash, beetroot and parsnips to make a cake with slightly unusual flavours. Creating something with the unexpected is a real joy. I adore trying new dishes and difference cuisines, drawing from my travels (currently in Istanbul food obsession mode) and eating out.
What has been your greatest cooking memory?
Gosh, there are so many. I have been fortunate to be presented with opportunities cooking for brilliant personalities including those from the gardening, architectural and fashion world (although the latter group ate very little…!). I cooked at the Feast Festival this year and spent an entire day cooking with my all time hero, Yotam Ottolenghi. He is the most incredible man. Despite being over-awed for the first 10 minutes we talked all things food, about his wonderful family, his new book, before feeding 200 delighted guests.
What would you say was your all time signature dish?
I have to say that it changes all the time and I get obsessed with cooking a few things for a couple of months before finding my next fix! Right now its mashed beetroot accompanied with pistachio dukkah or clams cooked in sherry with locally cured ham. My friends, however, would all undoubtedly say my chocolate brownie – I have to bring it to most events, parties and celebrations. One of my friends asked me to make a massive brownie pile up for their wedding cake!
What are your five favourite ingredients?
Flaky salt. Aubergine. Steak. Beetroot. Fresh herbs!
What is your favourite restaurant?
Living in central London I am surrounded by amazing places to eat with new ones popping up all the time. So I love trying new ones but there are ones that always lure me back! I love Pizzarro’s on Bermondsey Street – rather partial to a fabulous sherry or two with tapas that is fresh and amazingly well cooked, going above and beyond oily patatas bravas. There’s a great Turkish restaurant in Camberwell – the complimentary sumac onions & bread are worth going for alone!! In terms of hardcore British food, St John’s is a place we love go to for special occasions and am hoping for my 30th to have the suckling pig feast (hint).
Tell us a little bit about your experiences with cooking from the garden, using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients that your cooking is so synonymous with?
I know those terms are terribly cliched and overused but this ethos certainly adds to the flavour and experience of the eating ritual. Ideally I like to pull it from the earth myself – the satisfaction of eating something you have put so much care and attention in to cannot be beaten. I like to keep the plate looking as natural as possible and unmucked around with, often serving food in wooden crates and certainly no foams!
What exciting plans do you have for The Balcony Gardener workshop?
I am so excited to be working with Isabelle and the Balcony Gardener team for this workshop. The lunch will certainly reflect and be inspired by the garden using herbs and salad leaves at the very least from mine and Isabelle’s balcony gardens. It will be visually stunning, a feast for both the eyes and the palate!
Read an Interview with Isabelle about a previous workshop ‘How to Houseplant’ workshop in Ham & High
There a still a few places left for the Spring workshop on the 13th March, and many more scheduled for the rest of the year. Book here or call 0207 431 5553