18th Jan 2017 | Nº 27079
Celebrity Chef, Anna Barnett on food, fashion and throwing the ultimate dinner party
Starting out in the world of fashion and events, Anna found success working for the likes of MTV and House of Holland. However, her lifelong passion for cooking (as well as her skills in the kitchen), were too much to ignore, and she made the leap to focus full-time on all things food. Her Independent column and blog, The Reluctant Vegetarian, gained her a loyal fan base and in 2015 she released her first book Eat The Week. Now, she juggles many plates, whether it's writing for top publications, event catering, or hosting pop-up supper clubs, no day is the same for Anna.
We caught up with foodie extraordinaire to chat careers, personal style and her all-time favourite haunts. Plus, she shares with us her top entertaining tips.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
It’s a pretty hectic time of the year for me, I’ve just finished a series of events for. I’m now researching and writing everything for a month’s worth of Grazia pages (I provide a recipe and edit their food news pages each week) and I’m planning my next shoot for Vogue (I supply bimonthly recipes). I’m also working on putting a podcast together and currently in negotiations about my next book which I’m hoping will be ‘The Reluctant Vegetarian’.
What does an average working day look like for you?
Every day is so different, sometimes it’s cooking, styling and shooting recipes all day, others it’s endless cooking and preparations for events or catering jobs. Sometimes it’s just writing. Other days it’s meetings and running around. There’s pretty much always a dog walk in there too.
You previously worked in fashion, what prompted you to switch careers?
I had always been surrounded by friends who’d taken a punt and started something they were passionate about, so I drew inspiration from them. I wanted to start my own thing. I was always cooking a lot, putting on supper clubs but also working and travelling a lot in fashion. When it got too much to balance, and there was just not enough hours in the day to do it all, I decided to really focus all my attention on everything food.
How has your personal style changed now you work in food, not fashion?
I probably get dressed up less but love it when I do. That said I’ve bought a lot of good shoes of late so I’m definitely still passionate about clothes, and shoes in particular.
What would be your go-to outfit when hosting?
Probably skinny jeans with plenty of stretch, a comfortable top, and some mid height boots - comfortable but semi dressy. No baggy sleeves as you don’t want them dipping in sauces or getting the way!
Where do you like to shop for ingredients?
I love Broadway Market near my house in East London. They have a great farmer's market every Saturday and there’s also several amazing fruit and veg stores, with endless great produce. There’s a huge variety of everything, and I’ll always head there over going to a supermarket.
What is your all-time favourite restaurant?
It used to be Topogigio on Brewer Street (London). My grandparents used to take us and knew the family that ran this incredible hidden Italian restaurant, but it sadly closed a couple of years ago. Now, my ultimate restaurant recommendation is Da Adolfo just off the coast of Positano, Italy. It’s not fancy at all but serves up the most incredible food and overlooks the ocean.
Where would you like to travel next for food inspiration?
I’m planning to spend some more time in Asia, I cook a lot of vegetarian dishes (for my vegetarian husband) and there’s so much inspiration to be drawn from the Asian cuisine.
What do you have in the pipeline for 2017?
Hopefully my next book. I’m keen to do more pop-up supper clubs, cook more, eat a little less and travel.
Anna’s entertaining tips
- Get organised. Plan, plan and plan some more! You can never be too organised when it comes to these things.
- Preparation. Get as much prepared ahead of the event as possible. Lay the table and get as much food ready as possible.
- Always give yourself a dish, which can be pretty much made up ahead of serving so you’ve got time to get on and prepare the next course or so you can easily sit down and enjoy the meal with minimum fuss or rushing around.
- Make sure there’s plenty of booze.
- Always cook more than less. It’s great when you have enough to go round and can offer seconds, everyone loves that.
- No bright lights. Make sure you’ve got plenty of candles and cosy lighting.
Anna's Top 5 M Project Picks