Ben Tish is the man responsible for revolutionising the London tapas scene with his string of award-winning Spanish & Italian restaurants, starting as head chef at the original Salt Yard and going on to co-found Dahesa, Opera Tavern tapas restauarants and then at the end of last year Ember Yard
Ember Yard opened a few months ago now, how is everything going so far?
Really well thanks – we’ve had some great reviews and are very busy, great customer feedback too. Jacques Fourie the head chef is doing a sterling job. We’ve been developing the food menu and cocktail list and taking things up a notch now everyone is in their stride.
When and how did the concept come about for Ember Yard as a smoke house?
Simon Mullins (co-founder) and I had spent time in the Basque country – particularly Extebarri in the Contryside around San Sebastian ¬– and Tuscany where charcoal and wood grilling is common place and a regular form of cooking in restaurants. We were also inspired by the food/drink culture of the countries, where it is so important to eat and drink well, with enjoyment. We wanted to apply this to the Salt Yard Group and refine the offering. We are also both big fans of BBQ and grilling at home so it all made sense.
How do you think your style and tastes have changed since first starting at the Salt Yard in 2006?
I think we have obviously moved with the London food trends but hopefully kept our core style of big flavours, simple but stylish and unfussy presentation, seasonal ingredients and with Spanish and Italian flavours.
What should we order when we visit Ember Yard?
Iberico ribs, burger and Manteca chips and a bottle of Vega Sicilia.
What is your favourite cocktail at Ember Yard?
A Moorish goes to Manhattan.
Which dish on the menu do you most enjoy cooking?
Any over the charcoal grill (which is most of them) it’s a very satisfying way to cook and evokes all the primal senses.
What ingredients do you always have in your kitchen?
Maldon salt and lemons.
What is your favourite foodie holiday destination?
New York, it always has a great mix of the most cutting edge styles
Where was your most recent holiday to, and how was the food?
Turkey, the food was sensational, really. I’m a Turkcophil on the food front. Even in the UK I can’t get enough of it.
Which restaurant openings should we be excited about this year?
Jason Atherton’s City Social (opening in May 2014) – that guy knows how to do things and is London’s top chef at the moment. And Simon Rogan’s place at Claridges – simply because it’s an amazing space and I’m sure the food will match up to it.
What is your favourite part of London?
Soho – I’ve been working around the West End for most of my career and always hung around Soho to eat and drink. We’ve now got two restaurants and a head office there. I love the vibe and culture of it.
What does the future look like for you and the Salt Yard group?
Another book, soon I hope and then there will definitely be another restaurant in the early part of next year – but something different this time.
Ben Tish will be at Taste of London, from June 18th-22nd 2014, in Regent’s Park, which will transform into a foodie Mecca for four days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. Visitors will have the chance to try tapas size dishes from 40 of London’s hottest restaurants, taste samples from food and drink producers, take part in masterclasses and watch top chefs live in action. Watch the video above for all the highlights and by tickets at london.tastefestivals.com