Interview by Yasemin Bakan
Photo by Mehmet Er
Musician, broadcaster, cook and Great British Menu judge Andi Oliver has opened her first restaurant in Stoke Newington Church Street
You are a professional musician. What drew you to a career as a chef? Where does your love of cooking come from?
Cooking is something that has always been a huge part of my life. Over the years music and cooking have become inextricably linked. I think the inspiration for both comes from the same place, both are a way of communicating with other people.
You have got two jobs-was that transition difficult?
I’ve always had a few jobs so no! It’s weirder for me to only be doing one thing at a time.
What is your favourite kind of food to cook and why?
I love it all really, and the lovely thing about what we’re doing at Andi’s is that I can explore all kinds of cooking. We have our all-day brunch setup which is more hearty and comforting. Then at night we get to be more refined: the most important thing for me is the yummy factor, it has to be delicious!
Is there any particular reason you’ve chosen to open your restaurant in Stokey?
Well I only live down the road in Clapton and have done for about 18 years, so Stokey is part of my stomping ground, and I’ve always spent time here and when this particular site came up we fell in love with it, it has such a great vibe and just fit our needs perfectly
Could you tell us about the restaurant?
At Andi’s we’re aiming to create a real neighbourhood vibe, a home from home where people can relax, enjoy themselves, get delicious food and drinks, we’re calling it ‘down home fancy food’ a little of something lovely for everyone.
Why did you choose green colour for the facade?
All of the design for the restaurant is by Debs Armstrong from strong&co, she’s a genius and she’s a Stokey resident actually! Her use of colour and light in the design and her attention to detail, has blown me away, I’m in love with it all.
What’s cooking in the restaurant kitchen?
Well we’ve got all our gorgeous brunch dishes, baked eggs, energy bowls with roast seasonal vegetables & chargrilled proteins like shrimp, or halloumi, lamb chops or tofu, then you’ve got a French toast bacon sandwich with maple syrup and a fried egg or a salt beef Reuben’s!
Then at night our newest special is a seared lamb rump, bubble & squeak cake topped with cuttlefish ink aioli, I’m pretty excited about it! For vegans or vegetarians I’m working with a green pea socca, pickled and pan roasted spring vegetables and a watercress cream (made with avocado and hazelnut milk). Like it says on the window: beautiful things for everyone!
Where did you get the best and worst food?
I rather a big fan of Escosesa down the road from us actually, gorgeous tapas, brilliant drinks made by brilliant chefs in a lovely environment, works perfectly for me! We’ve also been going up to Hackney road to Bad Sports for incredible Tacos, I like to go to the flower market then pop in to see what they’ve got on their grill yesterday it was an amazing lamb barbacoa, jalapeño special! Blooming delicious!At the other end of the spectrum, whilst I love my boyfriend he made some particularly weird scrambled eggs the other day? He insists on putting all sorts of soy sauce and chillies in them.. I am NOT, as they say, “feeling it”
Have you ever had any major disasters on TV?
When we did Christmas Kitchen we were cooking five dishes a day and a few things got rushed I had a nightmare with some filo pastry that just kept tearing and sticking to everything. Luckily “one I made earlier” was to hand but it went into the oven looking like I’d dropped it at least three times!
What do you think will be the next big food trend?
I think that people want food that is good for them but still tastes amazing! Colourful, well sourced, delicious AND healthy! We CAN have it all!