The Ladies of London star and mother of three chats about family life in the capital and reveals the inspiration behind her new cookbook
Where do you live in London?
We live in a little mews in Chelsea. I love that we are just a five-minute walk from Sloane Square and Kings Road but our street is so quiet, it feels like we are away from it all. My husband has lived here for 20 years, so we know all our neighbours. It’s really lovely to walk down the street and bump into familiar faces, like our community butcher, Jagos, fishmonger, Rex, and fruit and veg man, Andreas – it makes Chelsea feel like a village.
You’re mother to Max, five, Jake, two, and eight-month-old Sadie. Describe a typical weekend for you all.
We are all pretty lazy on the weekends and try to stay in our pyjamas for as long as possible. We always have pancakes for breakfast (I’ve actually included a few of our favourite recipes in my cookbook), and then, post-food, we all pile back into our bed for morning cartoons. After we’ve snuggled and snoozed a bit, we go out to either Hyde Park to feed the ducks and swans, Battersea Park Children’s Zoo or head to the Duke of York Square farmers’ market on a Saturday.
What about when you want to escape the city?
We love going to Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire. The boys love running around in the fields and spending their mornings in the Teeny Camp Barn – then my husband Matt and I have a lazy breakfast, which is so rare!
What are your favourite London shops?
I love Donna Ida for jeans (I’m always in jeans), Selfridges for trainers (I’m currently working on my collection of Golden Goose shoes for mamas which work perfectly for both the school run and work meetings) and Fortnum & Mason for teas and biscuits.
How has motherhood been since the arrival of little Sadie?
This might sound crazy, but actually I’ve slowed down a lot. I used to run around like a maniac, seeing friends for lunches, working in our restaurants and in our Ignite Group head office, but now I just want to soak up time with Sadie, and as Jake has just started nursery this year and Max has started reception, they really need their mum around. I had a fairly traumatic pregnancy and birth with Sadie [Marissa was diagnosed with both placenta praevia and placenta accreta during her pregnancy] – it made me want to just press pause on everything else and focus on our family. Having three children definitely changes things. I’ve always loved spending one-to-one time with them, so three is even more of a juggle.
Tell us more about your upcoming book – what inspired you to want to write a family cookbook?
I was on bed rest a lot during my pregnancy with Sadie and if I wasn’t actually in bed, then I wasn’t supposed to be leaving the house. So I had time at home – and in the kitchen. Writing this book actually gave me something to do when I wasn’t supposed to be doing a lot. I found that I wanted to eat comforting, nourishing foods, so ended up cooking them and writing down the recipes.
Are there any dishes that hark back to your days growing up in California?
Of course! I was raised on my Dad’s porridge – and now I know why, as it’s so easy to make a whole batch for the week ahead. My Godmother’s delicious apple pie is still one of my family favourites – so, of course, that’s in the book – as well as my own childhood favourite, lasagne.
Are Max and Jake mini foodies, too?
We are always in the kitchen together. The boys love mixing anything with their hands – especially a crumble – and cracking eggs. Sadie is quite content sitting in her chair and cooing at me while I stir at the stove.
Where do you enjoy going out to eat?
I love date night with my husband at Tendido Cero in Kensington for tapas, afterwards we might end up at 5 Hertford Street or Chiltern Firehouse with friends. When we’re with the kids, it’s pasta at Oliveto – we always have the blueberry frozen yoghurt to finish. We also like to have early Friday family dinners at Bumpkin, and dim sum on Sunday afternoons at Royal China.
An American Girl In London: 120 Nourishing Recipes For Your Family From A Californian Expat (£22.99, Rodale Books) is out 4 April, pre-order now from Amazon.