Mention the magic words Anton Mosimann and images of The Belfry in Belgravia and a charismatic chef spring to mind. Anton is both a national and local celebrity, whose cooking style influenced a nation. Here he shares one of his famous signature dishes and the secret to a stress-free Christmas.
Q: What was your most memorable Christmas?
A: Every Christmas is memorable, always for different reasons. I remember the first Christmases with my children, the excitement as they opened their presents on Christmas Eve. It was never particularly easy, as a chef you tend to work on the big holidays, so I would always be at the hotel where I worked. When I was Maitre Chef des Cuisines at The Dorchester, I would go in to see how the service of Christmas lunch was going and to wish all my chefs a Merry Christmas. And of course, I would become involved and maybe cook something special for a regular visitor and become caught up in the festivities. Now, I am very happy to have five grandchildren and to see their pure enjoyment of the festive season is wonderful.
Q: Can you suggest any quick and easy festive recipes?
A: It is Christmas and my advice is to take your time and enjoy it, rather than aiming for things that are quick. There is an enormous amount of love involved when cooking for your family and there is no better time of year than now to share it. To see the pleasure on their faces is a really terrific treat.
Often too much is bought and if you have any leftover bread, it makes the most delicious dessert, which is simple to make and a guaranteed success. This is my twist on the traditional Bread & Butter Pudding. Click here to see the recipe.
Q: Which Christmas film have you watched the most?
A: It has to be Doctor Zhivago. It is winter and freezing; the story is so dramatic, too. I was fortunate in that I got to know Omar Sharif well when I was at The Dorchester and I would cook for him; he became a friend and I love to watch him in this film.
Q: What makes your perfect home?
A: I love Christmas decorations, the more the better. My dining club, Mosimann’s is always decorated like a snow drenched forest with white twigs, a huge Christmas tree and lots of lights. For me, the decorations become like a magical land and I love the feeling that this time of year holds. At home, we have an enormous Christmas tree, which my wife decorates in an old fashioned way, including real candles, which we light on Christmas Eve.
Q: Where will you be spending Christmas?
A: We celebrate Christmas Eve and this year we will be in London with the grandchildren, then we will leave on Christmas day to spend a few days in Switzerland.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island – what Christmas food would you take with you and what would you leave behind?
A: I would definitely make sure that I had a bottle of Mosimann’s Champagne in my hamper, it is essential for a successful Christmas celebration. I don’t think that there is anything that I don’t like for the festive feast, I am even a fan of Brussel sprouts. I believe that they have to be cooked correctly, [grate the sprouts when they are raw, meanwhile reduce some cream with some nutmeg into a saucepan and add the shredded Brussel sprouts, cook for about five or six minutes, until tender but still al dente and season with salt and pepper]. Ideally, serve with some braised chestnuts and you will be amazed at what a delicious addition the dish is to the main course.
Q: What is on your Christmas wish list?
A: I have so many things that I wish for, but the biggest is for a more peaceful world for children to be able to grow up with freedom and without hunger or poverty.
I have always been very concerned by food waste, in fact I would say that I am allergic to food waste. The first step in alleviating poverty is to consider how much food we throw away every day and, if everyone took more responsibility when they buy, consume and throw away ingredients, it would be a big step in the right direction.
Q: What was your best Christmas?
A: My parents had a restaurant and every year at Christmas, they would invite everyone in our community who were on their own and we would have a big celebration. I always loved those Christmases as there would be a gigantic Christmas tree with presents for everyone. We would share good food, memories and just being together. My parents ensured that all those who had lost their loved ones had a really special day and were not forgotten.
Q: Any advice to save time and take the stress out of Christmas?
A: There is a lot that you can do before the big day and the more preparation that is done, the less that has to be done on Christmas morning. I always remove the legs from the turkey carcass and make it into a stuffing, remove the breasts and then roast them all. Once the turkey is separated, it takes less time to cook, you have more control and it simply removes all the stress.
Q: Do you have a signature Christmas dish for the family?
A: My Christmas pudding is a winner. I devised the recipe about thirty years ago, it is suitable for vegetarians and is a lighter version than the traditional one. Everyone loves it and it means that you can enjoy a slice of Christmas pudding without feeling overfull or guilty.
Q: If you could spend Christmas anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: In our chalet in Switzerland, up in the mountains surrounded by snow and the beautiful panoramic views of nature.
- Mosimann’s has been a family run restaurant for more than 30 years. It is headed up by Anton Mosimann (OBE), who is the holder of the Royal Warrant by Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales for Catering Services since 2000. Mosimann’s Club, 11B West Halkin Street, London SW1X (020 7235 9625; mosimann.com)
- Twitter: @MosimannsLTD
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mosimanns/