Singer Jessie charts her love of food
Forget Michelin-starred restaurants and the latest, hottest street-food pop-up.
If you like food, dinner at home with singer Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie might just be the most covetable invite going.
The mother-daughter duo launched their wildly successful podcast, Table Manners, back in 2017. They swiftly combined their inherent nosiness, brilliant garrulousness and spectacular appetite for food and feeding people with roping in Jessie's suitably famous friends, including Sam Smith, Annie Mac and Loyle Carner.
Three years on, those unlikely to get corralled into Lennie's kitchen to be battered with chat, enthusiasm and platters of grub, can now recreate some of the dishes we've listened to everyone from chef Yotam Ottolenghi and pop star Carly Rae Jepsen, to London mayor Sadiq Khan, tuck into.
You'd think Lennie, a counsellor and social worker, who was initially brought in to just act as host and chef – Jessie would handle the interviews – might find cooking for such big names at least a little intimidating. But no.
"It's not so hard to cook for the stars, because people love to have a home-cooked meal," she explains. "It's quite rare with our guests' diaries that they would get a home-cooked meal, as they're either eating out at restaurants or hotels.
"I think it's definitely harder to cook for chefs, that makes me incredibly nervous sometimes."
And they've entertained some of the best – including Nigella Lawson.
"For Nigella, we talked about the menu for months!" says Lennie. "We made her a rack of lamb with pistachio and mint crust, along with coco beans and rainbow chard. For pudding we did her a blackberry custard tart – which was divine."
Nerves aside, Raymond Blanc actually said to her: "I can tell you're a really good cook."
Not that the pair haven't encountered a few problems, like "when I set myself on fire!" Food-wise though, "I've never served anything that was a complete disaster, I would throw it away if I did," she admits.
The blueprint for Table Manners is the Ware family's Jewish Friday-night dinners, evenings where Jessie would bring too many friends home and Lennie would happily over-cater, with the uproarious lot of them over-sharing, over-eating, and having a grand old time.
"We don't do them so much now, but the Friday-night dinners were pretty much as they are on the podcast; maybe sometimes more people and more raucous," remembers Lennie. "Usually more alcohol and definitely singing at the end."
And that's what it's all about – memories, family, and lots of food.
Cooking, says Lennie, "doesn't have to be complicated. It's to be enjoyed and to share."