17th January 2014

Interview with Ben Tish

Executive chef of Salt Yard Group

Ben Tish is the man behind the food at London restaurants Salt Yard, Dehesa, Opera Tavern and most recently Ember Yard. His food is loved by the Good Food Guide's readers for its trademark Spanish and Italian-inspired tapas and the restaurants' attractive, bustling atmospheres. We quizzed the talented chef on food, restaurants, and the chefs to watch in 2014.

Ben Tish

Name the three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Maldon salt, lemon and extra virgin olive oil.

Why do you think food and cooking has become so fashionable?
Food culture has everything: creativity, fashion, health... And it’s a necessity of life.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
May. It's when the weather starts to warm up and the BBQ comes out. And it's when we get the best British asparagus.

The most underrated ingredient is…
Fennel.

What’s a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Over elaboration. Or nowadays it can be making it too simple!

Who do you think are the chefs to watch in 2014?
Paul Hood at Social Eating House in Soho and Tom Sellers at Restaurant Story in Bermondsey.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Balthazar, Covent Garden.

Which restaurant do you return to again and again?

J. Sheekey, Covent Garden.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social), Tim Hughes (chef director at Caprice Holdings) and Steven Terry (The Hardwick).

Which restaurant best sums up British cooking today?
St John, Clerkenwell. 

Which out-of-the-way restaurant is worth a trip?
The Sportsman in Seasalter, near Whitstable.

At the end of a long day, what do you like to cook?
Chicken dhansak with daal, roti and yogurt. 

Do you remember your first professional dish?
Yes: salt cod soup with black olive ravioli. It was a special at Frith Street restaurant when Jason Atherton was head chef there. I was a chef de partie.

Who was your greatest influence?
Jason Atherton.

Which of your dishes are you most fond of?
Any of the ibérico pork ones – and there have been a few. Presa with chicken jus, capers, lemon and shallots, if I had to choose.