What’s My Weekend: Sophie Michell

The executive chef at Belgraves hotel, Sophie Michell shares her weekend

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Weekends are a slight anomaly to most chefs, they’re often our busiest times and even two days off in a row can be difficult to manage on a regular basis. On the occasional weekend that I do have off, it would, ideally, pan out like this....

Friday

I like to be in the kitchen as early as possible, before my team. Someone once told me that it was a good tactic for managing kitchen staff and I think they were right - it puts you one step ahead. I’ve always been a morning person, and if I get 30 minutes of peace before the boys arrive, I can gather my thoughts for the day, plan what I need from the kitchen and have my all -important double macchiato from the front of house. We serve food 24/7 at the hotel, and breakfast from 6am, so being early gives me a chance to go over the orders from the night before and check that the breakfast buffet and cake bar are up to scratch. We make all our own jams, cakes and most of the pastries, as it’s important our guests get gourmet service from beginning to end, not just when dining a la carte in Pont St, above, our newly opened seafood restaurant (Belgraves, 20 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8HQ, 020 7858 0100, thompsonhotels.com/hotels/london/belgraves/eat).

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When lunch service is over I might have some suppliers over for tastings, which I love. Last week I saw Wild Harvest (Units B61-64, New Covent Garden Market, London, SW8 5HH, 020 7498 5397, wildharvestuk.com) who source some beautiful truffle products for me, and next week I have Natoora (Unit 8, Discovery Business Park, St James's Rd, London, SE16 4RA, 020 7627 1600, natoora.co.uk) coming in to discuss micro-cress, edible flowers and burrata.

I usually get away around 4pm, jump into a cab and head to Wholefoods (3-97 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SE, 020 7368 4500, wholefoodsmarket.com). I am going through one of my health phases right now, so I head there for wheat-free breads, coconut water, teas, coffees and their homemade nut butters.

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I’m usually pretty tired by this point, so a local meal out is perfect. Zafferano (15 Lowndes Street, London, SW1X 9EY, 020 7235 5800, zafferanorestaurant.com) is great for a good bowl of pasta or a risotto, or I will head to Colbert (50-52 Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AX, 020 7730 2804, colbertchelsea.com,) for some steak tartare and fries. If I have a bit more energy and need a touch of glamour after being in the kitchen all week, I will pop on a pair of heels and head to the Fumoir at Claridge’s, above (Brook Street, London, W1K 4HR, 020 7629 8860, claridges.co.uk), it’s my favourite place - I love the art deco interior and I can just imagine all the fantastic trysts that have taken place there. And I love the late David Collins- designed Connaught Bar at The Connaught (Carlos Place, London W1K 2AL, 020 7499 7070, the-connaught.co.uk).

A perfect dinner would be at Scott’s, below (20 Mount Street,?London, W1K 2HE, 020 7495 7309, scotts-restaurant.com,) or George (87-88 Mount Street, London, W1K 2SR, 020 7491 4433, georgeclub.com) then drinks at Annabel’s (44 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 5QB, 020 7629 2350, annabels.co.uk) or Loulou’s (2-5 Hertford Street, London, W1J 7RB, 020 7408 2100, 5hertfordstreet.co.uk)

Saturday

Saturday morning I always need a trip to the gym, I’ve just joined The Peak at Jumeirah Hotel (2 Cadogan Pl, London, SW1X 9PY, 020 7235 1234, jumeirah.com). The views are amazing and it clears the cobwebs and takes my mind off work for a bit. I used to have an exercise phobia, but the truth is you need a balance and it keeps me sane. The pool is also great and it starts the day well.

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I often head to the farmers’ market in the Duke of York Square off Kings Road, I love the cheese stalls and oyster-seller. Then I might walk down Kings Road or Brompton Road for some shopping. I’m obsessed by finding the right glass bonbon jars and cake-stands for my beloved cake bar, so I’m always on the lookout, and for the right tealight holders for the restaurant.

There is a great little area called Chelsea Green - it’s fantastic for food. Andreas does amazing seasonal vegetables, Jago’s butter is brilliant, and I get game for home, plus halal meat for the restaurant there. Also the Chelsea Fishmongers (10 Cale St, London, SW3 3QU, 020 7589 9432, thechelseafishmonger.co.uk) has some very well-priced fish and they love to chat about the produce. Jane Asher (24 Cale Street, London, England?SW3 3QU, 020 7584 6177, janeasher.com) is also there, so I stock up on fondant icing and my edible gold dust. Or I will head the opposite way down Walton St and have juices at Jak’s (77 Walton Street, London, SW3 2HT, 020 7584 3441, jakswaltonstreet.com), then potter along to South Kensington to get bread from Gail’s Bakery (45 Thurloe St, London SW7 2LQ, 020 7581 2033, gailsbread.co.uk) and cheeses from La Cave a Fromage (24-25 Cromwell Pl, London, SW7 2LD, 020 7581 1804, la-cave.co.uk).

I might swing by the hotel on the way home (I live very close) to see how everything is going, then probably have dinner out again. The two places I crave the most right now are Pitt Cue Co, above (1 Newburgh St, London, W1F 7RB, 020 7287 5578, pittcue.co.uk), I love good BBQ food and bourbon, and Tonkotsu (63 Dean Street, London,?W1D 4QG, 020 7437 0071, tonkotsu.co.uk): where the stocks are stunning and I lap up the chilli garlic oil and tofu topped with bonito. MeatLiquor (74 Welbeck St, London, W1G 0BA, 020 7224 4239, meatliquor.com) is a favourite for naughty burgers.

Sunday

Sunday is my favourite day of the week, it should ALWAYS be like this: lie-in-coffee-papers-breakfast-papers-bloodymary-sundayroast-sleep.

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I love cooking Sunday roasts, so usually I will have some mates round for that. I'll do a big pork belly slow-cooked, or rare rib of beef with masses of OTT trimmings all go down well; plus my secret bloody Mary mix.

I have started to do a special Sunday Brunch/lunch menu at Belgraves, above (20 Chesham Pl, London, SW1X 8HQ, 020 7858 0100, thompsonhotels.com, so that’s where I spend my time. There aren’t many places in the area for a well-priced brunch or Sunday roast, and I’ve aimed to create that wonderful chilled Sunday vibe - a bit of a home from home. We have all of the classics plus some different dishes: crab cakes, eggs benedict, or bubble and squeak patties with black pudding for the hungover, and our best selling superfood – dairy- free, quinoa porridge. Then we do a two-course Sunday roast and some good old British comfort puddings.

Sunday evening, I might head home via Laduree (Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London, SW1X 7XL, 020 7730 1234, laduree.com),

I still feel like a child when I enter the cafe, I adore the colours and the vanilla macaroons can’t be beaten.

Finally it’s home for movies, and catching up with some writing (recipes and menus) before the week starts again.

Sophie is chef, author ('Cook yourself Thin') and has also catered for Hollywood’s elite. Cooking from the age of 15, in 2013 she joined Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel, as executive chef to launch Pont St, their contemporary seafood restaurant.

Sophie is launching a wheat-free afternoon tea at Pont St, just in time for London Fashion Week, and this summer she is launching The Gorgeous Kitchen, in Heathrow terminal 2, alongside three other British female chefs.

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