Most chefs have vivid food memories from their childhood that helped put them on the path to their chosen profession. For Tim Siadatan, of London restaurant Trullo, it was a tomato, eaten when he was 13 while on holiday with his family in Le Marche, Italy.
As he writes in the introduction: “My mother had rented a farmhouse up in some sunflower fields and one day the farmer who owned the land came down in his little tractor with a glut of tomatoes. They were ginormous, pulsating; you know the ones, they sing to you. He gave them to us as a gift, along with some olive oil from his grove. Mum would make mid-afternoon snackettes and one day she just sliced tomatoes and left them in the sun for a bit with some oil and salt [...] I remember eating them for the first time; they’re still to this day one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. It was almost a spiritual moment. That was the beginning, those tomatoes; that was when I fell in love.”
His next revelation came when he was 17 and training at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, in London. “While I was at Fifteen, my sous-chef Derek Dammann (one of the best chefs I’ve ever met) kept banging on about this restaurant called St John and how I had to go and eat this dish of roast bone marrow with parsley salad and toast. Eventually I went and sat at the bar; I remember feeling quite nervous but excited at the same time [...] That first mouthful – god daaamn! The balance of fatty marrow married with capers, sharp raw shallot, earthy parsley and acidic lemon dressing, all riding on crunchy toasted sourdough – it was magic. I was instantly hooked and knew that I needed to work at this place and learn their skills. So I asked if [I] could do work experience on my days off from Fifteen and thankfully they said yes.”
Siadatan credits his time at St John – working with chef Fergus Henderson (who wrote the foreword to Trullo: The Cookbook) – as being important to his culinary education, along with other London restaurants he worked at, including Moro and The River Cafe.
Henderson’s “nose to tail” philosophy is reflected in the cookbook, with dishes such as pig’s ear with anchovy; grilled ox heart with baked borlotti beans and salsa rossa; ravioli of calf’s brain with sage butter; and tagliatelle with sweetbread, peas and mascarpone. Even if you don’t like offal, the book will still appeal, with recipes for pici cacio e pepe; pappardelle with fennel sausage ragu; steamed and grilled chicken legs; whole baked turbot with poached leeks and aioli; chopped beef fillet with anchovy, parmesan and melted gruyere; cannellini beans and king cabbage with panetta; upside-down blood orange cake; and salted caramel ice cream.