CellarVie Wines meets… Quo Vadis’ Jeremy Lee

In the first of a new series on CellarVie Wines our roving ambassador, Nigel Barden, interviews notable individuals from the world of food and drink. This week the BBC Radio 2 presenter caught up with the head chef at Quo Vadis, Jeremy Lee, to discuss his preferred ingredients, the restaurant’s culinary ethos, and his favourite wine and food pairings…

Dundee born Jeremy Lee started out in the kitchen of the Old Mansion House Hotel in Auchterhouse before working with Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum in London and heading up the Kitchen at Sir Terence Conran's Blueprint at Tower Bridge for eighteen years. Sam and Eddie Hart, the Spanish brothers behind a host of popular London restaurants such as Fino, Barrafina and of course Quo Vadis, were delighted to have Jeremy join them in 2012, where the Soho based restaurant has since been voted in the Top 10 in the UK's 100 Best Restaurants. A familiar face on television, Jeremy has appeared on 'The Great British Menu' and he hosted 'Could You Eat an Elephant?' on Channel 4 with Fergus Henderson of St. John.

Were you always destined for the kitchen?

It would appear so. Being a third son I reckon it would have been the church two hundred years ago!

What else might you like to have done?

I like films, so maybe making them.

Is a life behind the stove pretty draining; physically and mentally?

Of course, but it is also stimulating, invigorating, fills a day like nothing else and despatches ennui with ease.

Which ingredients are you enjoying working with at the moment?

Enjoying…oh we are loving wild garlic, peas, asparagus, nettles, broad beans, gooseberries and elderflowers.

Wine is a big feature at Quo Vadis, what are some of your favourite vinous tipples and which ingredients/dishes do you like pairing them with?

I rarely drink away from Languedoc, Rhone or Burgundy except to pop into Italy now and again. Sam (one half of the Hart brothers who are the brains behind Quo Vadis and the equally successful Barrafina and Fino restaurants amongst others) spoils us rotten with his excellent lists. We pair them with as much as possible and as often as possible. Its hugely comforting knowing they all work well.

What other food styles/countries excite you at present, even if you don't feature them at Quo Vadis?

I do tend to go weak at the knees for Japan...I long to go.

What's your culinary ethos at Quo Vadis?

Make it good, seems to be a constant cry.

Your last meal (many centuries away); what would it be, who would cook it (might be you, but don't worry about the washing up) and what would you quaff with it?

A last meal…oh, such a question. To have a date so one knew when the axe fell so let us hope its autumn.

A great heap of langoustines and a bowl of mayonnaise.
A white truffle sandwich.
A bowl of late season raspberries from Scotland with some very naughty cream.
Cooked by and eaten with Simon Hopkinson would be splendid and drunk with various Meursault and a great La Tâche would seem appropriate.

Do you have the recipe for a favourite dish you can share with us?

Lots of recipes and none even remotely decent for giving! Spread toast with butter and plenty of marmalade is all I can manage today! Or oatcake with butter, cheese and quince has saved my life on more occasions than I care to count!
Scroll down to see Nigel’s suggested wines to fulfill Jeremy’s red and white Burgundy penchants to pair with his cheese plate craving… 

Quo Vadis, a grand old dame of Dean St, is hotting up for summer with new seasonal delights. Gulls’ eggs, asparagus, wild garlic and strawberries abound, the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus will embrace nature’s bounty and set forth dishes that will revive and restore equally. As the days lengthen, the nights shorten and the sun shine bathes all of Soho, it is time to consider flocking to the terrace and flinging open the doors of Quo Vadis.
Handsome benches under striped awnings await the weary and when the expected chill in the air returns late into the evening the QV bar inside welcomes all.

For all enquiries contact 020 7437 9585 or email info@quovadissoho.co.uk.

Nigel’s wine pairings for Jeremy

Meursault, Ropiteau 2009 £25.99

- Marvellously refreshing white Burgundy from the Ropiteau family who've been making top class Burgundy since Jean started out in 1848, despite the French Revolution being waged at the time! I think Jeremy would appreciate the pedigree of this house.

Mersault, Louis Jadot 2007 £27.99

- With a couple of extra years ageing than the Ropiteau, this 100% chardonnay is aged in oak barrels and is typical of the rich, buttery, hedonistic style of classic white Burgundy. There's still another 5-8 years life in this wine.

Bourgogne Blanc 'Clos de Loyse' 2010 Domaine Lous Jadot £13.99

- A delicious yet less expensive white burgundy, which really delivers a fruity digestive biscuit combo.

Although we're not listing any La Tâche at the moment (prices start from £1,200 for 2008 vintage!) here are a couple of fine red Burgundy substitutes:

Nuits-Saint-Georges, Ropiteau 2007 £27.99

- The Ropiteau brothers have struck gold with this 100% Pinot Noir, black cherry mouthful.

Or how about a Kiwi Pinot Noir – The Drylands 2011 from Marlborough is spicy and enticing, delivering multiple layers of flavour for £13.99.

With the oatcake, butter, cheese & quince - this really depends on the cheese that Jeremy's opted for but if there's going to be any blue involved, then I suggest something like the Rare Vineyards Marsanne-Viognier 2012 (£9.99), from the Languedoc. These two classic Southern French white grape varieties, have enough steel to cut through the sweetness of the quince and still stand up to a Stilton or Roquefort, whereas the tannins in a red wine would be overly aggressive. For a mature Cheddar or Lancashire, the Solandia Primitivo Rosato 2011 (£8.99) from Sicily, is a suitable sparring partner. There's raspberry fruit, but it's nicely restrained.
Follow Jeremy Lee @JLQuoVadis or Quo Vadis here @QuoVadisSoho

You can follow Nigel on @NigelBarden.

Written by: Nigel Barden

Nigel Barden 


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