Simon Lamont is the host of Tv3’s The Lazy Chef, where he travels all over the country to sample the spoils of Irish cuisine and rustle up delicious quick-fix dishes.
In The Lazy Chef, Simon shows how to cut any corner to make effortless food and shares his secrets to fast-tracking meals by offering tips, tricks and shortcuts to make impressive food in a simple way.
Born and bred in Dublin, Simon studied Culinary Arts in DIT’s Cathal Brugha Street, where he majored in pastry work and graduated with honours. He had a dozen chef and waiter jobs during his college days and has worked in some of the best restaurants in the world. He is currently the general manager at the celebrated Wright Brothers Oyster House in London.
What does it mean to be the Lazy Chef?
I guess the title “lazy” can be a bit confusing; notions of microwave meals and instant noodles spring to some peoples’ minds! Lazy Chef for me is a frame of mind: it’s the least amount of effort to make great ingredients taste delicious.
How did you get into cooking?
My mum and granny, obviously. My mum was (and still is!) a busy lady and she had me helping her in the kitchen from a young age.
What are your favourite things to cook at home for yourself?
I don’t normally eat breakfast, but when I have a rare morning off I cook some spicy baked eggs. They’re a real treat served with a big pot of coffee and lots of buttery, toasted sourdough bread from the restaurant. A pig in muck springs to mind! At the moment, my staples are stews and curry. If you can master those techniques, you’ll never go hungry.
What do you like to cook for friends, or for someone special on Valentine’s Day?
Beef and red wine evoke romance! That’s what I’m cooking for my love on Valentine’s Day. I might flick through Pat Whelan’s Irish Beef Book to get a little inspiration; it’s definitely my favourite Irish cookbook in recent years. Add a couple of glasses of Malbec to the mix and…need we say more?!
What ingredients do you always have on hand in your kitchen?
I spend most of my week in the restaurant, so my fridge is frequently bare, bar a few essentials. I’ll always have Kerrygold butter, Greek yoghurt, tins of tomatoes, anchovies, fresh chillies and potatoes. These are a few of my favourite things!
What are some of the best shortcuts you’ve learned from your time in the kitchen?
My box grater is not just for cheese; I use it to cut corners everywhere from salsa to stir-fries. I almost don’t need a knife sometimes. Just watch your fingers!
Are there any kitchen skills that can’t be skipped or shortened?
Baking bread, especially sourdough bread, can be labour-intensive but really worth it. I haven’t come up with a shortcut yet, but I’ll rise to the challenge (wink, wink).
What inspires you to cook?
Travel inspires me to cook; cities like San Sebastián, New York, Copenhagen, Istanbul and my home away from home, London. These days I also get tons of recipe inspiration from Instagram. It’s such a great forum for swapping ideas.
What’s the best kitchen advice you’ve ever received?
Rest your meat – rest it as long as you cook it. And wrap it in clingfilm while it rests, which extends the cooking process and helps the meat retain moisture.
What’s the worst kitchen disaster you’ve ever had?
Pour steaming hot soup into a blender. Set to full speed and pulse. Enjoy the molten magma display! (No seriously, don’t do this!)
What’s the biggest difference about cooking in a restaurant kitchen compared to cooking for friends or family?
Family and friends are very forgiving! If your soufflé doesn’t soufflé, or if your tart is too tart, you’ll live to see another day. The restaurant guest is a different kettle of fish. Each plate has to be perfect, or beyond perfect. Easy, right?
What projects are you working on at the moment?
It’s been an exciting start to 2015 for me. I’m Brand Ambassador to a couple of very cool Irish brands; I love working with passionate Irish producers! Also, keep an eye out for a foodie app I’m developing. I hope to launch a podcast in the summer, which will keep me out of trouble. And if I’m lucky, we’ll squeeze in some new adventures with The Lazy Chef! I’m wrecked just thinking about all of that!
What’s the one bit of advice you’d give to someone who is just learning to cook?
Follow your taste buds, not the recipe book.