Readers kitchens: Debora from Stoke Newington

Who: Debora Robertson, food writer

Where: Stoke Newington, London

What do you do in your kitchen and with who? We lived in our house for about four years before we built our kitchen and I'm glad we did, even though it meant at first I was cooking in such a small place I often had to plate up in the garden if we had lots of people over.  It meant once we got round to the hideous job of building, I knew exactly what I wanted and we didn't make any mistakes. I love it now. I spend more time in the kitchen than in any of the other rooms in the house as it's my office too – If I'm not writing, I'm testing recipes so it's lovely to do it in such cheerful, bright surroundings. We have people over a lot and it's a great space to entertain in. I can be cooking while our friends are mulling about drinking and eating. It's changed the way I cook too. In a small kitchen, it was difficult to do anything that needed last minute preparation without feeling like the maid. I'd be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else was having a lovely time in the dining room so I rarely cooked fish or souffles for a crowd, but those sort of things are good fun if you're surrounded by your friends – it becomes part of the 'cabaret'. The only downside is you also have a captive audience for your disasters too.

Deboras kitchen

How would you describe your style? Functional indulgence. I like everything to work hard – I'm northern – but I think it's really important to be surrounded by things that you love too. For example, I was determined to have a marble top on the island. Every kitchen designer in the world will tell you marble is a nightmare – it stains, it's soft so it can chip. They also told me it would be impossible to find a piece big enough. In the end I tracked down this lovely Irishman in a far-flung part of north London who specialised in making and renovating altars for the Catholic church and he found me a piece of carrera marble that's about the size of my first flat. It weighs half a ton and I was so nervous on the day they came to fit it, I hid upstairs. But I love it – it has a beautiful, silky quality and has gone all shiny around the edges where people have leant against it. There's the odd wine stain or ghostly mark where a cut lemon has been left on it – a remembrance of dinners past. We also built a waist-high fireplace in the old chimney breast which looks very cosy but I also cook steaks or roast veg on it too.


What is your most useful item? Most useful is hard, but I suppose it's my wooden spoons. When I travel, I always buy a wooden spoon so I have them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, made from different kinds of wood. 

Read Deboras Blog, Love and a Licked Spoon, where she records the recipes and stories she's collected from her local neighbourhood and around the world.

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