It's fair to say that Peter Gordon is a stalwart of the London food scene: his current restaurant, The Providores in Marylebone, celebrates its 15th year this month; he first set up The Sugar Club in London in 1989 with fellow Kiwi Michael McGrath; he's one of the founding fathers of fusion cooking... Basically, he's had a profound influence on the way we prepare and consume food. There's another thing to add to his list of attributes, too: he's got a keen eye for talent. He gave José Pizarro his first job; he was there when Fergus and Margot Henderson went on their first date, and taught Fergus how to make sausages. Here's what some of his alumni have to say on the impact he's had on their cooking...
Selin Kiazim, Oklava
"The main thing that rubbed off on me was his ability to mix different textures and flavours. I like dishes that are full of big flavours, and he taught me about ingredients from all around the world and how to use them, to not be afraid of combining ingredients and just go for it. I also learned how to create a happy kitchen environment to work in, both for the chefs and for front-of-house. He's been a great mentor."
Miles Kirby, Caravan
"Working at the Providores, really made me feel like I was part of something great. There was a perfect balance of nurture, professionalism and freedom to express yourself as a chef creatively. Peter's personality runs through every inch of that place and that's what makes it great."
Brad Farmerie, PUBLIC, New York:
"I loved that the menu changed every single day, which was mapped out after the guests had all gone home and took its direction from an ingredient that Peter wanted to work with or a dish that he had come across on his vast and varied travels. Much of what he did defied logic, but for a young cook this approach eventually defined my own philosophy toward food - celebrating humble yet unusual ingredients, appreciation for techniques from around the world, pushing the boundaries of what was possible yet remaining sincere enough to remember that the point of cooking is to bring joy to those around you."
Anna Hansen, The Modern Pantry:
"I met Peter in my second year of cooking professionally, when I was still learning loads, and he introduced a whole other repertoire of ingredients into my world. His approach was very much give anything a go and don't be afraid to cross cultures food-wise, and if you think a couple of ingredients will work well together, then try them. That taught me to be really open minded and to explore, so I feel like that, along with my own travels around the world, have really forged the foundations of what I do completely."
Hamish Brown, Roka
"Working with Peter and the team at the Providores was a really refreshing and fun environment where cooking was enjoyed and savoured
Peter's amazing understanding of flavour combinations and his dynamic personality really made for fun and exciting place to work!"