Five minutes with Ruth Hansom
Ruth Hansom is just 25, and is one of the UK’s most exciting young chefs. She was the youngest ever female chef to win the Young National Chef of the Year award, and is now Head Chef at The Princess of Shoreditch, a role she took on between lockdowns. Ruth has created both a refined and experimental tasting menu upstairs, as well as a menu of modern British pub classics and snacks in the pub below.
Best known for reaching the finals of the BBC’s Great British Menu in which she was competing for the North East of England, Ruth also spent five years at the Ritz, during a period which saw the restaurant win its first Michelin star. We caught up with Ruth to find out how her 2020 went and what she’s most excited about at The Princess of Shoreditch.
What’s your very first memory of food?
My earliest food memory was making a quiche with my Auntie Julie when I was around 4 years old. I was making the short pastry in her cut glass mixing bowl and managed to stab a knife right through it while mixing the butter and flour together. We only noticed after we had already put it in the oven that there was a chip in the bottom… so we just hoped for the best! Safe to say I’ve learnt a lot since then. Nothing leaves the kitchen unless I’m 100% happy with it…
What’s the first recipe you properly learned to cook and who taught it to you?
The first recipe I properly learned to cook was chicken tikka masala when I was 12. It was part of a cooking competition I did at school and was shown to me by Becci Dougill from a local cookery college.
Has coming from the North East inspired your cooking in any way?
100%, I think growing up around people with small food businesses in the North East has really made me passionate about supporting local suppliers. There’s a lot more green space up there which means lots more growing. It’s also close to the Yorkshire Dales and the East Coast, both with fantastic produce like game and seafood.
What’s the one ingredient that you’d take to a desert island with you?
What’s the meal you’d miss the most whilst there?
Lasagne or sushi – they are my go-to meals after I finish the week on Sunday evenings.
What’s the one condiment you couldn’t live without?
Ketchup… it’s my guilty pleasure!
Which cookbook would you take with you to the island?
Quay by Peter Gilmore.
What meal did you cook the most during lockdown?
Gyoza – I loved learning new techniques. I don’t cook oriental food at work so I love to cook it at home.
And… what did you binge-watch on TV during lockdown?
I rewatched the whole series of Dinner Ladies. I remember watching it as a child with my grandma but it’s much funnier now I understand the jokes!
Where’s the first place you ate when restaurants re-opened?
Simon Hulstone – The Elephant Torquay after the first lockdown.
And what’s the restaurant (anywhere in the world) you are most looking forward to eating at, when travelling more widely is an option again?
Frantzen in Stockholm. I love how the chefs bring the ingredients to you and then cook it right in front of you.
"I think growing up around people with small food businesses in the North East has really made me passionate about supporting local suppliers."
How would you describe your experience of Great British Menu?
It was totally different to anything I’ve ever done. I was in there with amazing chefs so it was really exciting to be able to watch them work.
Your dishes look as amazing as they taste. Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
Lots of places; eating out, books, Instagram and things I’ve learnt from other chefs over the years.
What new dish on the menu are you most excited about at The Princess of Shoreditch?
Red mullet ceviche with Isle of Wight tomato ice cream, Yorkshire fettle and fennel.
You’ve already achieved so much at the age of 25. What plans do you have for your career in the future?
I’m really focused on achieving more here at The Princess of Shoreditch. I’ve got a great team around me and I really want to grow together here.