Happy Birthday to Sisi! She started as an intern with us and now works with us freelance as an assistant chef – get to know our amazing new chef a little better with our birthday interview here…

Any London dining adventures lately that blew your taste buds away?
“I went to a tapas restaurant last night, and I could’ve just eaten loads of the Pan Con Tomate for my whole meal. Coming into summer, tomatoes are beginning to get fantastic. Paired with the crunchy, fluffy grilled bread and some unctuous Spanish olive oil – a simple treat! I need to seek out some great tomatoes to recreate at home.”

 London foodie bucket list time! Which restaurant is topping your must try list?
“I’m going to go with a bakery as they usually impress me the most. Buns from Home, despite becoming a bit of an Insta famous chain (not always a good thing), do incredible cinnamon buns. The lamination of the pastry is just not something I could make myself, and they bake them with sugar and butter underneath so the bottom is all caramelised and delicious. I’ve heard the cardamom buns are also to die for if that’s what you’re into.”

What’s the weirdest food combination you’ve ever tried that surprisingly tasted amazing?
“I tried the Torres fried egg crisps last year and I was blown away, but not in a good way. That’s only because I don’t love that crispy fried egg flavour, but if you do, they have somehow managed to create that exact flavour in a bag of crisps.”

If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and what dish would you prepare to impress them?
“Not famous but probably my grandmother who died before I was born. I still would regard her as a historical figure though as she raised 8 kids, whilst working, and made all of their food from scratch on the farm! I would make her an Asian feast, probably something like Bao as I don’t think they were around in Ireland in her day. I’d just love to let her sit whilst everything is done for her and learn from her superwoman wisdom!”

Do you follow any food bloggers or Instagram chefs? Who are your favourites?
“I’m not on Instagram but I follow Nicola Lamb on Substack and her work is so interesting. She’s a pastry chef and does deep dives into ingredients, techniques and shares the ins and outs of countless recipe tests. She also puts out banging recipes. Her newly released book is definitely on my birthday list!”

Time to dish out the kitchen drama! Share a cooking calamity that made you a better chef. We promise not to judge… too much!
“Not super dramatic but a little embarrassing – I had promised some family and friends fresh bread and everyone was starving and excited for it. I was tired and I forgot to line my loaf tins so I practically had to chisel the bread out of them. I really believe if your heart’s not in the food it won’t be good”

Can you share at least one standout memory from your time working with The Avenue?
“It’s difficult to pick out one occasion as every class is super fun, and so varied in food and atmosphere. I think I’d have to go for a Friday night Italian Cooking Class we did a few months ago. We had 90s disco music on, people were dancing by their hobs and everyone was blown away by having made their own delicious pasta so easily. Big vibes.”

Which three spices are your ride or die kitchen companions?
“Bit of a cheat as it’s a mix but if you can get your hands on a good garam masala (or make your own) you’re sorted for lots of yum curries. Also smoked paprika, I’d recommend spending a little more on a nice one. And Lastly, I’ve been loving fennel seeds recently. Especially with sausages in a Tuscan ragu.”

Alright, time to ‘fess up! What’s your guilty pleasure grub that you can’t resist, even if it’s not super gourmet?
“I’m super nostalgic with food sometimes, and like to have things that are exactly the same as I had when I was a child. When my mum was feeling lazy, she’d make us pasta with that supermarket tomato and mascarpone sauce. It’s pretty bland so I spice it up a bit, but about once a year it’s all I want as that memory is absolute comfort.”

Last but not least, what’s your favourite cooking class here at The Avenue?
“I’m gonna go with Sri Lankan, as I’d never had curries like those before that class. The cashews are so delicious. And also bread. Anything involving bread is a win in my eyes.”

Thank you Sisi for the foodie insights and the whole team at The Avenue Cookery School wish you a very happy birthday!