The Eighty Six List pop-up restaurant’s latest residents answer our questions
Throughout June, Eighty Six List, a hospitality network founded in 2015 by Natalia Ribbe-Szrok, is curating a month-long series of pop-up restaurants at 1 Cathedral Street, featuring some of the UK’s most exciting chefs. From 15-17th June, the guest chef will be Sebastian Myers, previously of Chiltern Firehouse, Nuno Mendes’s Viajante, and Sager and Wilde, alongside business partner Frederieke Janssen of Lyle’s and author of Pickled. They talk tacos, pocketing prawns, and breaking the mould
How did you come to be a chef?
Sebastian Myers: I started off as many chefs do, washing pots. I’d always been a keen home cook, baking my first cake when I was about four with the help of an aunt. By the age of 10 or 11, I was cooking the family dinner a few times a week. I started my apprenticeship in Australia—which I did for three years, mainly under Andrew McConnell—two days after my last high school exam.
What’s your earliest food memory?
SM: My dad likes to tell a story from when I was maybe five, about a family wedding near a beach. He says he found me alone at the end of a pier and tried to lure me back to the party with the promise that there was a big seafood buffet with lots of prawns. I then pulled out a dozen or so prawns that I’d stuffed in my pockets and told him I had some already. I kind of remember this, but maybe only because I’ve heard it many times.
Freddie Janssen: One of my earliest memories was eating egg and soldiers with white toast, slathered in butter and loads of aromat powder for dipping. Aromat is a neon yellow chicken salt (MSG essentially!) and I got addicted to it as a kid. Even now, I still refuse to eat soldiers with just plain salt.
Who or what’s had the biggest influence on your cooking style?
SM: Hard to say. I think cooking is a way to show where you’ve been, what you like, what inspires you. Working for Nuno Mendes taught me to be okay with who you are and what you have to say. Before that I often felt I was trying to fit in with what everyone else was doing.
How do you know each other? What can we expect when you come to 1 Cathedral Street?
SM: Freddie and I met almost a year ago, while doing some taco parties in the summer. A year on and we’re headed to Borough Market to try some new things and meet some new people. The menu is going to have a few tasty snacks to start and then a nice sharing main course—a roast chicken with some peaches and wild summer herbs—and a light berry dessert.
FJ: One of our dishes will be wild pea and lardo tostada, another will be lobster roll with lovage crisps. In terms of drinks, we’re partnering up with Borough Wines, to celebrate all things Borough. We’ve not chosen our exact produce as yet; we’re waiting to see what we find in the Market once we’re there.
What’s the dream?
SM: At the moment, we’re both still working and doing our taco pop-up Snackbar on the side, with the hopes of opening a bricks and mortar place soon. We want Snackbar to develop and grow naturally—really guided by what works and how our guests use what we offer.
FJ: We’re hoping to open our first permanent site in early 2018, in Hackney central.
What’s your go-to place to eat in London?
SM: I’ve got to say, I really love having lunch at Lyle’s. It’s always so good and for me, it’s really what a London restaurant should aim to be. Taberna do Mercado is always good for thoughtful seafood dishes—and the best bifana and pastel de nata in town.
FJ: Lyle’s, of course, Rochelle Canteen and 40 Maltby Street.
Any particularly memorable meals out?
SM: I was in Paris earlier this year and I was blown away with how good the food is there (of course). Septime was a big stand out.
FJ: Lunch at Roy Choi’s A-Frame in Los Angeles about six years ago. They do Hawaiian soul food, and it blew my mind—it’s what made me want to work in food.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
SM: Cooking is basically all I’ve done since finishing school, and the thing I like most now is seeing my friends and former colleagues opening new places for me to eat at. When Viajante closed it was sad, but now I look at what the team has gone on to do and that is really cool. One of the most important things about the ‘chef life’ or whatever, is the people you meet and work with. It’s cool to see people you respect and admire doing well and putting themselves out there.