As British asparagus season spears into life, Ham joins London Farmers Market today in launching the West Hampstead Asparagus Festival, celebrating the vibrant spring green. Head Chef at the neighbourhood restaurant, Matt Osborne is showcasing the delicate seasonal vegetable with a live cooking session till 2pm where visitors are chatting to Matt to find out the cooking secrets they’ve always wanted to know.
Matt’s pressed Fosse Meadows chicken leg with cow’s curd mousse and a fresh asparagus and basil salad is going down a treat with market-goers. Meanwhile on Iverson Road guests are mingling with the growers and browsing a splendid array of stalls. From delicious asparagus pizza and ravioli to homemade asparagus tarts and pots of homemade asparagus pesto.We spoke to Matt about his love for British asparagus season and the celebration of this spring delicacy.
When did you discover your love for cooking?
My Uncle Steve passed away last year and in saying goodbye I realised that the South East Asian elements in my cooking stemmed from tasting the recipes he brought back from his travels. He was the first person who made me see that cooking could open up pathways to the rest of the world.
Who or what inspires you most as a chef?
First and foremost the amazing produce I’m lucky to get and the great British producers I’m able to source from. I usually start with the produce and then think about what I’d like to eat in order to create a recipe!
What are some of your favourite ingredients to cook with come rain or shine?
Wild garlic, courgettes, mushrooms, beef, squid.
Tell us the recipe to a simple dish you always to serve at a dinner party?
1x large Cucumber
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp Black rice vinegar
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp chilli oil
2 tsp sesame oil
Place cucumber on chopping board and smack (crush) with the side of a large knife. Cut the cucumber into 3cm pieces and toss with the salt in a bowl. Leave for 20min in a colander to let the water drain out. Rinse and pat dry.
Mix all these ingredients in a bowl and add the cucumber. Leave for 5mins to allow the cucumber to absorb the flavours. Serve as a tasty snack before a dinner party or at a BBQ.
Which flavour combinations and ingredients we should prep our taste buds for across menus this summer?
British and Italian tomatoes. The British strawberry season, and berries in general. I love when peaches come in season – we will do a dessert with macadamia nuts at Ham.
Give us the chef recommended way to enjoy asparagus?
Cooked on the BBQ or raw!
How is Ham embracing responsible farming and locally sourced produce for its Spring menu?
Ham sources its produce from suppliers which share its responsible sourcing ethos. The majority of Ham’s produce comes from suppliers such as Flying Fish Seafood and Lake District Farmers.
Favourite city to travel to?
San Sebastian in Spain for food and Melbourne, Australia (where I am from) for family.
You’re cooking for friends at a BBQ back home in Australia, what tune is playing on Spotify?
Times Like These – Foo Fighters
What was the last thing that made you stop and stare?
Watching my kids and my wife play in the garden when the sun was out.