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Anna Hansen, owner of The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell, talks Stuart Peskett through the kitchen of her Finsbury Park home.
‘I’ve been in this flat since 2007. It doesn’t belong to me; it’s owned by a chef friend of mine, who’s English but lives in New Zealand, so I’m looking after the place.
I can’t really change anything about the kitchen, as it’s not mine, and there’s no gas in the building, which isn’t ideal. If I could, I’d get a nice hardwood benchtop in here, or a stone slab. But I do like my ducks on the wall. They’re cheesy, but I think they’re wonderful.
I don’t cook at home a great deal; I have people over for dinner maybe once every three months. My friends tend to be chefs or industry folk, so I always try to keep things simple: lots of salads, quinoa, or a nice piece of fish. Or I just pinch stuff from work.
My time is spread between the restaurant kitchen and office, plus various outings – I’m there six days a week – but I spend more time at home now than I’ve done before, thanks to my fantastic head chef, Rob McLeary. It’s hard to stay away from the restaurant – we are an all-day place; we do breakfast, brunch, even afternoon tea now – but I’m getting better, and things can go wrong even when I’m there!
I was born in Canada, but I definitely feel like a Kiwi; I moved to New Zealand when I was 18 months old, plus my dad is from there. When I was growing up, I had a lot of British food – bubble and squeak, bangers and mash, fish pie – and although the general perception of British food was that it was dull and boring, that wasn’t mine. Having said that, trying the coffee over here for the first time was a shock.
There are a couple of good places to eat in Finsbury Park: a Japanese called Hana Sushi on Seven Sisters Road that does excellent sushi and sahimi, and Amici Pizzeria on Holloway Road. I went to the Riding House Café in Fitzrovia the other day; that was good. But my favourite place is Koya in Soho – they make their own udon noodles.
Oh, and I do consider myself a fusion chef. To me, fusion is about having the freedom to use any ingredient that you come across. I can go to any style of restaurant and have a crap meal. Just because it’s French or Italian doesn’t mean it’s going to be good. And most restaurants are fusion, anyway – look at Jason Atherton. He says his food is ‘modern British’, but it’s fusion.’
I got this from my Danish grandmother. You just heat the iron up on the hob, pour the batter in, and in a couple of minutes, there’s your waffle. It’s a particularly Danish thing.
I love collecting these. I use them a lot, because I love eggs. The one at the front is from Crown Lynn, a New Zealand company which isn’t around any more. I buy them as and when I see them.
My mum gave me this. It’s from a Finnish company, Finel, and it’s a classic design. In New Zealand, the whole café scene is rife; I was surprised when I came to the UK and couldn’t get a flat white.
I bought this in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago. Everywhere you go, you see them. They’re great; you chop your coconut in half, then this grates the flesh for you, and it comes out as a really fine powder.
These are a mixture. The dark green ones are from Denmark and France, but the lobster plate is from Carlton Ware in the States. I love Carlton Ware – I think their designs are beautiful.
Pai tee are a traditional Malaysian savoury snack. You dunk the moulds in hot oil, dip them in batter, then back in the oil. You can fill them with seafood, but I use morcilla, bone marrow and shallots.
This is from Blakeney, a firm in Staffordshire. I bought it at a junk shop, and while I don’t have much cheese at home, when my dad comes over to stay, we’ll use it then.