Five minutes with John Gregory Smith

We caught up with chef, presenter and food writer John Gregory-Smith to ask him a few foodie questions. Read the interview to find out which recipe he couldn’t live without, the guests he’d invite to a dinner party and the one ingredient he’d take with him to a desert island…

Five minutes with John Gregory Smith
Photo credit: Ellis Parrinder

What’s your first memory of food?

I have wonderful memories of feasting with my family. Growing up – and even now – whether it was a summer BBQ or a birthday dinner, the whole clan would get together to celebrate. Food would always be at the centre: a juicy burger, Sunday curry or a huge roast dinner. We would all tuck in and have so much fun. That’s why I love food – it’s fun. 

What’s the first recipe you learnt to cook?

From a very young age, maybe 10 or 11, I loved Chinese food. I would ask my mum to drive me to the oriental shop, in Wembley, to buy ingredients. I was a big fan of retro-classics like black bean beef and chicken chow mein. This was a long time before I went to China and learnt about the proper, authentic dishes but, still, it was a good starting point. 

What’s the recipe you can’t live without?

I think kebabs – I am obsessed with them! Whenever I’m travelling in the Middle East, I’ll always be looking out for hole-in-the-wall places to eat and discover new ideas. I just love the combination of charred meat, creamy condiments, a crisp salad and warm bread. Oh god, I’m hungry now! 

What’s the one ingredient you’d take on a desert island with you?

Being a Middle Eastern chef, I eat lots of lamb, especially kebabs (see above). Right now, as it’s perfectly in season, it would have to be Welsh Lamb. It’s such a versatile and delicious ingredient and we are very fortunate to have it right on our doorstep. 

Try Welsh lamb in this charred lamb loin dish with smoky aubergine labneh. Photo credit: Ellis Parrinder


What’s the meal you’d miss the most?

When I am travelling, I miss a Sunday curry with my family. It’s a long standing tradition and I get massive FOMO if I am not there. 

You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… Who would you invite?

Nigella Lawson, Kate Moss and my family. It would kick off. 

Which cookbook would you take with you?

Er mine. obvs! But if I was banned from my books, I would take John Whaite’s new book A Flash in the Pan. I would never be hungry or sad again. 

Check out some of John’s wonderful Welsh lamb recipes, including a zesty orzo salad, a smoky aubergine dish and these slow-cooked lamb tacos

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