Food Articles

The hidden food havens where top chefs shop for ingredients

Lesser-known places the experts go to find ingredients for their kitchen sorcery

The hidden food havens that top chefs visit 2

Jose Pizarro, Pizarro Restaurant

The pick: B Street Deli, SE1. An intimate, low-ceilinged spot with a long counter heaving with meats and cheeses. A Subway equivalent for people who drink fennel tea.
Jose says: "I would 100% recommend their Stinking Bishop – don’t be fooled by this cheese’s powerful smell, its taste remains unmatched. They also do an incredibly smooth Colston Bassett.”

The hidden food havens that top chefs visit

Scott Hallsworth, Kurobuta

The pick: Paya Thai Market, TW9. Thai curries don't need to be hunched-over-your-desk, slopping-gloop-onto-your-slacks lunchtime ordeals. You can do them at home! And it's tough to butcher one when you use the premium Asian goods here.

Scott says: "Thai sausages – holy sh*t! These are hands down my favourite thing right now. Fragrant with ginger and lime leaf, plus a good kick up the backside from the scud chillies. It's worth braving the weather and grilling them out on the barbie too. You'll thank me!”

The hidden food havens where top chefs shop for ingredients

Cyrus Todiwala, Cafe Spice Namaste

The pick: Taj Stores, E1. You're hosting a dinner party. You've saved a few Zeitgeisty Conversation Topics in the Notes bit of your phone. "Well I think it's time *pause, glance down* Theresa May invokes *pause, glance down* Article 50!" But come showtime, a sickening realisation: you've forgotten the bloody pandan leaves! A trip here would've prevented such disaster.

Cyrus says: "Selling speciality foods from the Subcontinent, they have seldom let me down at times when we cannot get hold of a particular exotic product from anywhere else. For those seeking rare fruit or veg, there is no better place."

The hidden food havens that top chefs visit 3

Pascal Aussignac, Club Gascon

The pick: Brindisa Shop, SE1. Now we're talking: none of this "rummaging through food sacks on the floor" – here you've got clearly labelled shelves of Spanish delicacies, like a sausagey B&Q.

Pascal says: "It has a fantastic selection of cured meats and cheeses, oils, vinegars, sauces, snacks and sweet treats. I particularly enjoy the soft turron, so delicious and the perfect after-dinner treat.”

The hidden food havens that top chefs visit 1

Francesco Mazzei, Sartoria

The pick: Mercato Metropolitano, SE1. A new "vibrant space" parading the best in Italian street food for those who want to leave a street food market without smelling like they've just showered in ash.

Francesco says: "I'm crazy about their salsiccia e friarielli pizza and always stop for a glass of wine at Enoteca. Italian cold cuts and cheese accompanied by a fantastic selection of fairly priced wines."

The hidden food havens where top chefs shop for ingredients 1

Merlin Labron-Johnson, Clipstone

The pick: It's La Fromagerie in Marylebone from the best chef of the London Restaurant Awards 2016, completeing our list of wise foodmen recommending their favourite local food shop

Merlin says: "I could easily spend a whole afternoon there. Tasting all the cheeses, drinking wine and chatting to the incredibly knowledgeable staff. I recommend trying one of their alpine cheeses like beaufort d'alpage or their 30-month aged comte."