Anna Tobias x Refettorio Felix

On a warm Wednesday in early May, we were delighted to welcome Anna Tobias into the Refettorio's kitchen. Known for her simple, ingredient-led cookery, and having just completed a 6 month residency at P.Franco, Anna treated our guests to a deliciously rustic meal.

Anna

Can you talk us through your menu for today?

So, the starter was a minestrone of mainly leeks, onions, cime di rapa, cabbage, beans and pasta. The meat main course was chicken with potatoes, onions and rosemary – and the vegetarian was potatoes, onions, peppers and rosemary. And there was a tomato, dill and spring onion salad with that. The desert was meringue, poached rhubarb, strawberries and ice cream.

Did you only cook with things you got off the Felix Project truck this morning?

Yes, everything came in this morning, and there were a few dry ingredients that were already here, but most of it was from the truck. I didn’t really know what to expect, I suppose. There was a lot of stuff that came in, and I thought the quality of all of the produce was actually really high- surprisingly high. I mean sure, the spring onions didn’t look super amazing, but once you peel back a couple of layers they’re totally fine.

Can you contrast the experience of working here with that of P. Franco?

Well, it’s probably actually more interesting to contrast it with that of Rochelle Canteen. We did a lot of catering, so in many ways this wasn’t dissimilar: getting a meal for 80 people ready. So that was quite helpful, to know how to manage my time. But it was super different to P. Franco, where I just had three inductions, and that was it. So, today it was a luxury to have an oven.

A huge part of our project is focused on zero-waste and sustainability, do you have any tips for home cooks to minimise their food waste?

I just don’t think there’s that much need to throw that much away. For instance, with leek – sure you throw away the hairy bit and the really, really tough top bit… But that’s about it. And the same goes, if you, say, roast a chicken. You can always use the bones to make a broth, so that’s being used twice essentially.

A freezer is your friend. If you’ve got loads of herbs that look like they’re about to look sad, you can make a herb butter – they freeze super well. Equally with herbs you can dry them, rather than throwing them away. I really think soup is an incredible thing to use up things with. If you’ve got a limp lettuce, it’s absolutely fine in soup. The same with a slightly floppy carrot. You kind of can’t tell. I mean sure, super fresh amazing produce will probably make a better soup… but you’ll still get a delicious soup using slightly past-its-date stuff.

Did you have any interactions with our guests today?

Yes! Some of them came up and talked to me for a little while, which was really nice. I got some feedback. It was mostly really good. I mean some people don’t like meringue – fair enough – I don’t like meringue either, so I totally sympathise with that. But it’s a good cheap pudding to make. Especially if you have egg whites left over, which often restaurants and homes do. They also freeze well. I think the feedback was more or less all positive, which is good.

Since you’re in a transition phase out of P. Franco, do you know what’s next for you?

I’m hoping to open my own place this year. We’ll see if that works out. I’m sort of quietly hopeful – but not too hopeful, because things can and do go wrong, and have gone wrong for me in the past.

Do you have a concept idea or a style?

I cook European food, so it will be that and it will be very simple… Peasant-y, probably. I quite like those quite rustic and hearty dishes.

 

I thought the quality of all of the produce was actually really high. Surprisingly high. I mean sure, the spring onions didn't look super amazing, but once you peel back a couple of layers they're totally fine… I just don't think there's that much need to throw that much away.

Anna Tobias