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Peckham Cellars Harry Freestone
Illustration: Bryan Mayes

What’s in Peckham Cellars’ actual cellar?

Head chef Henry Freestone on the odds and ends that he keeps to hand

By Joe Mackertich

Welcome to Shelf Life, the series where we get fun chef-types to show us what’s in their lockdown larders. This week we’ve got Peckham Cellars’ head chef, Henry Freestone

Lockdown for me, as for many others, has been a real rollercoaster ride. Some days are full of culinary fun and others are just beans on toast or a simple pasta dish. The reason I love cooking at Peckham Cellars is that our philosophies completely align. We’re all about food that is classic, simple and delicious. Seasonality is key, using the best produce and flavours from the UK and Europe. What’s equally as important at Peckham Cellars is the wine selection and the guys take great pride in choosing each bottle for its flavour as well as championing small-scale producers. Here are the store-cupboard staples that I can’t live without.

Peckham Cellars Henry Freestone
Photo: Adam Flanagan

1. Maldon sea salt

I find Maldon’s airiness makes it perfect to season with whilst cooking, but also to finish dishes like salads. I get through a criminal amount of Maldon at home and we always have a back-up at Peckham Cellars just in case! I pick it up from General Store on Bellenden Road.

2. Dulwich Honey

I’m not a huge fan of honey on its own but added to food, it’s amazing. A touch of Dulwich Honey drizzled over burrata with good olive oil and fresh chilli is a flavour explosion. The natural sweetness really cuts through the heat and mixes with the olive oil to make a delicious sweet and peppery dressing. I’m lucky enough that an old school friend’s mum makes it in Honor Oak, so I’m never in short supply. 

3. Biona beans

I absolutely love beans but I’m not organised enough to soak them overnight. Biona are top of the league in my opinion; they hold well when cooking and the range is extensive. I probably eat beans in some shape or form twice a week and I’ll never get bored of them. Simple beans in white wine and thyme trumps any potato dish in my eyes. They’re the perfect accompaniment to steak, sausages or any meat, really. The leftovers are banging with poached eggs and a drizzle of hot sauce.

4. Bovril

I always keep a jar of Bovril around whether it’s to add beefy richness to stews and sauces, or even make a hot drink (which isn’t coffee). I find it adds a certain depth without having to make a proper beef stock. It’s my meaty Marmite. I buy mine from The Village Grocer on Bellenden Road. They have a great selection of groceries, spices and dry goods. It’s the best local alternative to supermarket.

5. Beer

I’m a huge beer drinker! Usually it’s everyone’s favourite Belgian staple but occasionally I treat myself to a crafty can from a local brewery. Villages supply us at Peckham Cellars and their range is great. My favourite is Whistle, it’s one of the few craft lagers I find crisp enough and replicates a cornershop tinny better than most craft lagers. Being 4.4% you can smash a couple!

6. Rubies in the Rubble relish

I love Rubies in the Rubble. They use wonky veg to in their products and honestly, their ketchup is better than the one we all know and love. I tried their vegan aioli recently and was blown away by the flavour and texture: couldn’t quite believe it didn’t contain eggs! I love supporting small businesses which have a social conscience and strive for great-quality products.

7. Blenheim Forge knife

I was lucky enough to be gifted a Blenheim Forge knife for Christmas by Peckham Cellars and it’s honestly changed my life! The craftsmanship is second to none and it’s beautiful to chop with. My go-to is the Santoku as it’s perfect for everything, from mincing meat to chopping veg. Also their sharpening service is the best in south London.

Peckham Cellars is an independent wine bar and restaurant recently awarded a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand. During lockdown, Peckham Cellars has been operating as a wine shop, delivering bottles and cases nationwide. 

Find out all about Simon Rimmer’s tins and tings in the first edition of Shelf Life.

Our introduction to drinking and buying natural wine in London.

Top London chefs on where they buy meat, fish and veg in London.

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