Why Phil Howard Believes Fellow Chefs Have A ‘Dishonest Relationship With Food’

How many times have you scanned a restaurant menu, failed to recognise half of the ingredients and struggled to know what to order?

According to chef Phil Howard, this occurs when professionals are distracted by trying to be clever, rather than creating food people actually want to eat.

“Menus are written with far too much input from the brain and not nearly enough from the stomach,” he says.

“A lot of chefs have a neurotic relationship with food or a dishonest relationship with food, where at home they eat roast chicken and chips and at work they make a sea urchin gel.”

In the latest episode of The Chefs’ Chefs, HuffPost UK’s original video series, Howard shows his former colleague Jun Tanaka around his newly established restaurant, Elystan Street.

Howard opened the restaurant in September 2016 after hanging up his apron at The Square, Mayfair, where he held two Michelin stars for 19 years.

His bold move to leave the successful restaurant has provided him with space to create new dishes from the heart. 

Elystan Street’s menu centres on comforting food such as mushroom soup with parmesan-coated bread and roast calf’s sweetbread, which Howard refers to as a “posh chicken nugget”.

“I’m a great believer that the best food has a little bit of naughtiness in it somewhere,” he says.

“If your food is ingredient-led – it doesn’t really matter whether if it’s a sweetbread, whether it’s a scallop, whether it’s grouse or whether it’s an asparagus spear – if you’re starting off with a wonderful ingredient, all you’ve got to do is cook it nicely and put it with something seasonal and the job’s done.”

With dishes that look as good as his, we can’t argue with that logic.