Aaj Fernando

How long have you been at the restaurant?

I have overseen Eight Over Eight for 5 years, as well as e&o and Stoke House.

Which was the first restaurant you worked in?

Buddha-Bar London.

What was the last London restaurant you went to, apart from your own?

XU, a fantastic Taiwanese restaurant and teahouse in Soho. Taiwanese food is not as regularly promoted or covered in the press, but it is certainly a cuisine to try.

What or who has been the biggest influence on the way you cook and why?

My mum. My mum has taught me everything I know about cooking from the point of view of passion. Being Sri Lankan it really sets you up well to use the skill-set to go on to cook the Pan Asian food I specialist in now. Such intricate flavours and ingredients. I also work with a team of very experienced professionals, so they all inspire me.

What is your personal signature dish?

Grilled stone bass, Thai curry bisque.

Which other chef’s) do you most admire?

Nobu, Massimo Bottura and Gordon Ramsay.

What’s the best part of your job?

It’s the creativity, also feeding our guests and seeing their happy faces every week.

And the worst?

Being around the temptation to eat all the time.

What would your last meal be?

Anything cooked by my mum.

Do you have a chef’s shortcut that you can share with us?

There aren’t really any shortcuts, for the best results, you have to put the work in. Plus the nature of the food we create relies on detailed planning, preparation and serving.