Talking Healthy and Delicious cooking with Tess Ward

Josie Price |

Tess Ward

Tess Ward is dreamy. My kinda girl. I was lucky enough to be invited to a cosy summer supper hosted by her at the beautifully petite PipsDish restaurant in Covent Garden, where she is currently collaborating with Philip Dundas in creating truly delicious food.

Tess is known for a having a healthy and wholesome approach to creating flippin' tasty food.  It's no surprise then that Tess and I got on like a house.  Tess and everyone got on like a house. She's one of those people. We ate our way through delicate canapés of smoked mackerel pate with pickled fennel, piled generously onto Tess's homemade spelt and rye bread. These were good. There was sweet potato and sage gnocchi with lardons, kale, pecans and pine nuts (check out the recipe here). This was good. We had a carrot and beetroot side salad. This was also good. To finish Tess rustled up some chocolate truffles and caramelized almonds and yep, you guessed it, these were GOOD. I managed to remember to do some work whilst we hung out and it went something like this. Love Food Love Drink: Currently working on? Tess Ward: I am juggling a few different projects at the moment. Mostly I am teaching my one on one cooking programmes, writing the recipes for my first cookbook (out in April 2014) studying for my qualification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and doing my weekly column for Grazia. LFLD: What are the store-cupboard ingredients you rely on for creating such tasty yet wholesome dishes? TW: There are the essentials - seasonings (salt and pepper), spices and lemon which i wouldn't be without. Otherwise it would be a toss up between coriander, tomato puree, sweet potato and anchovies. Good salad leaves, like pea shoots and rocket are also a fridge staple, especially in summer. LFLD: Top kitchen tip or trick? TW: Good preparation is key in cooking. Get all your ingredients prepped, chopped and ready before you begin to cook. You are also more likely to have all your food hot and ready at the same time. LFLD: Your story? TW: I trained at Le Cordon Bleu, worked in a few top kitchens, including Harwood Arms and River Cottage. I made the jump to teach my programmes, because I felt so disconnected from the food when working in a restaurant. Customers would go away having had a lovely meal but it is unlikely it would impact their lives. Teaching people to cook for themselves is empowering and is so rewarding in the long term. LFLD: Inspired by? TW: I love Nigel Slater, as a writer he has a lovely contemplative style which is so intimate it is like sitting on his shoulder watching whilst he cooks. I also like the simplistic style of cooking Florence Knight embraces. Great food needn't be over-complicated. Her food says this well. LFLD: A few of your faves? TW: I love Atari-Ya (Ealing Common), it's hands down the best sushi in town. Their fish shop is the main supplier to all the top London sushi restaurants. Il Portico (High St. Ken) is a great place for family run Italian food. Fino (Charlotte St) is another favourite. For street food it would have to be Bill or Beak's (Kerb traders) asian pulled pork and duck baps. They are out of this world. LFLD: Most memorable meal anywhere in the world? TW: Eating giant Lobsters and fresh fish from the smallest shack in Kenya with my dad and brother. It was as much the company as the amazing food. LFLD: Friday night tipple? TW: A filthy dirty vodka martini or a glass of good red wine. LFLD: Interesting non-food related fact about yourself? TW: I collect traditional incense and old postcards. LFLD: Desert Island Dish? TW: My mum's chicken fajitas with plenty of guacamole or her baked pork and sage meatballs. LFLD: Strangest thing you've ever eaten? TW: The most memorable is chitterlings (pork intestine) and Ox tongue LFLD: Advice you'd give to someone wanting to enter the food industry? TW: Don't take shortcuts and treat the people you work with well. It makes the ride far more enjoyable. LFLD: Next big thing for you? TW: Ah ha, well, there are a number of things in the works but for now the book is taking a front seat. The final draft has to be in for August. I am planning to take a week off after and not do any cooking. LFLD: Thanks so much, Tess. I've not eaten for at least 15 minutes so please do excuse me whilst I help myself to a third plate of gnocchi. @tesswardchef PipsDish is located at 15 Exeter Street, WC2E 7DT and is open from Mon - Saturday for lunch, 12.30 – 3.30 and dinner, 5.30 – late and Sunday lunch.        
Yauatcha City, Broadgate Circle
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