Nina Parker is a chef and food writer, based in London.
Having worked in the kitchens of some of the city's most esteemed establishments, Nina left her job at Bocca Di Lupo in 2012 to work as a private chef.
I caught up with Nina to talk food philosophies, fail-safe juice recipes and her favourite places to eat in the capital.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
I love things to be delicious, otherwise what's the point?! Food has to be enjoyed. I like to experiment by making recipes gluten- and dairy-free but if I feel the taste disappears then I will revert back to a more classic version. I'm not gluten-free myself but I love making desserts using nut flours because I genuinely think they create more depth of flavour. I have trained in Italian kitchens and they generally don't use dairy in savoury dishes so I tend to have the same mantra.
HOW HAS WORKING IN RESTAURANTS KITCHENS INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU COOK AT HOME?
It shaped my work ethic. It makes you extremely tough and hard-working which has really helped me in all aspects of my business. I didn't go to a culinary school, instead I learned everything on the job and so even though I am a bit rough around the edges with regard to technique, I have been forced to carve out my own style. This goes out the window when I cook at home – at my house it's very relaxed and probably a bit lazy.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START NINA: A FOOD COMPANY?
When I was at university I always wanted to have my own business but I didn't know in what field. Slowly the food idea came up and I went to get experience working in a commercial kitchen (L'Anima on Liverpool Street). After the first three weeks I fell in love with their style of cooking of using fresh quality produce simply to create dishes that were rustic and delicious. I became obsessed with everything about it and then the idea just started growing.
WHAT DO YOU EAT ON A TYPICAL DAY?
I eat super easy foods. Lots of eggs, rye bread, buffalo mozzarella, avocado, rocket, roasted vegetables. I also eat whatever dish I have Instagrammed that day.
YOUR GO-TO FAIL-SAFE JUICE RECIPE:
This is the one I make all the time – 1/3 cucumber, 100g spinach, a small thumb of ginger, 1 large apple, 2 celery sticks, and a few drops of lemon juice.
THREE CRUCIAL PIECES OF KITCHEN EQUIPMENT:
My KitchenAid, a stick blender and a spatula.
FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT IN LONDON:
I love the little Italian in Notting Hill called Osteria Basilico, Mazi in Notting Hill for great Greek food, The Smoking Goat which is a tasty Thai grill place, Granger & Co, Poliâne, Patty and Bun, The River Café, Spuntino, Rotorino. Bocca Di Lupo will always be a special place for me and it ticks all the boxes – friendly service, delicious food and buzzing Soho atmosphere.
FAVOURITE PLACES TO SHOP FOR FOOD IN LONDON:
THE BEST MEAL YOU EVER HAD:
What a question! There are so many but one that I particularly love was when I was on a research trip with my brother for my new book. We were in Italy in a little beach town called Nerano along the Amalfi Coast in November. It was in a stunning beachside restaurant called Maria Grazia and we ate a lunch fit for kings. It was sunny on their terrace and we ate their courgette pasta, antipasti with stuffed red peppers, parmigiana and drank white wine with chunks of peaches. So dreamy and delicious!
ASIDE FROM EATING WELL, WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAINTAIN YOUR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
I love to play tennis and go running.