‘Don’t be afraid to tweak the ingredients in a recipe so it works for you’ – Meet the founder of Sous Chef

Have you ever struggled to recreate your favourite restaurant’s signature dish because you can’t source that one rare ingredient? Sous Chef is here to help. With a huge warehouse in North London, the company prides itself on stocking an extensive range of innovative product inspired by Michelin-starred restaurants and food from all over the globe. We had a little chat with the founder Nicola Lando to learn more about the family-run business. So scroll down, and get to know Nicola, the woman dedicating her time to bringing the finest ingredients to the masses…

Tell us, how did Sous Chef start and what’s it all about?

I came up with the idea for Sous Chef while working as a trainee chef at Gauthier restaurant in Soho. They were cooking with such amazing ingredients that just weren’t available to home cooks. That was how Sous Chef was born – an online shop with the highest quality and most authentic ingredients from all around the world. Available to both home cooks, and chefs alike. We now stock over 3,000 ingredients. As well as professional and world cookware, and a huge range of gorgeous Asian ceramics.

How do you choose your suppliers?

I travel a lot! And taste things every day. We’re always on the lookout for companies producing thoroughly beautiful or delicious things, and you don’t find that sitting at a computer.

With the festive season in full swing, what are your favourite things to cook at this time of year?

I wouldn’t be without a Cameron Smoker – it makes great hot smoked food in almost no time. You can smoke a trout or salmon fillet in under 15 minutes, lightly flake it and serve in a salad or stir through sour cream and spoon onto oatcakes to make a super quick canape. Similarly, I always add a little liquid smoke into salt-caramel sauce for steamed puddings. It adds a touch of wintry warmth and comfort.

Finally adding chunks of blue cheese to salads, and tossing the veg together with a good red wine vinegar (like Forvm) and hazelnut or walnut oils makes them more satisfying in the cold weather.

What do you think makes a great food gift?

It has to be delicious, of course! And packaging makes a big difference. Something people would want to keep on a shelf and enjoy looking at before they even taste it.

What’s a good gift to bring for the host of parties you attend?

A panettone always goes down well. Our favourite brand is Loison – and their ‘top line’ of panettones are fabulous. I always keep at least 6 in the cupboard during December so I always have something to take to friends’ houses.

You have a lot of cookbooks on your site; what are your favourite books to cook from?

I love reading restaurant cookbooks. Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook has some gorgeous recipes (try his veal stock, and lemon tart – though not together, of course!). Modernist Cuisine at Home is an amazing reference book: everything from how to cook meat perfectly to making risotto in a pressure cooker in minutes. For world food, Sabrina Ghayour’s Persian recipes are always delicious. I love Korean and Japanese food and learnt to cook in both those countries so often don’t use cookbooks for those cuisines. But when I do, I like The Korean Kitchen, and Reiko Hashimoto’s Hashi for Japanese cooking.

If you had to pick one cuisine to eat every day, which would it be?

Japanese.

What’s your best cooking tip for the novice cook?

Taste taste taste taste taste. Can I say that again? Always taste food as you cook and don’t be afraid to tweak the ingredients in a recipe so it works for you.

What would you say to those wanting to start their own business, particularly in the food industry?

It’s easy to spend ages in the planning stage, yet what you come up with might be completely different to what the customer wants. Get your product in front of your customer early – even if it isn’t perfect – then you’ll get it right much more quickly.

In conclusion, throw yourself in at the deep end and get started!

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WRITTEN BY:
Sami Sharaf

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