The dish : Lobster caldereta. Jose does tell me I need to stick to the recipe, though. Last day, I threw in a whole bulb of garlic. Who does most of the cooking ?
Jose takes the result, obviously, while I wash up or get the herbs from the garden or run to the store. When we cook together, its when we chuckle the most. Well, Jose calls it cooking together. I call it: Me being the kitchen porter.
Sometimes, although he cant assist but interfere. I dislike that because it only totally changes my food. Candidly, its like hes got some kind of gift. Even if he merely stirs something, he somehow manages to make it savour like hes cooked it. I genuinely would rather he didnt, because I want it to savor like I made it, rather than it being a Jose Pizarro dish. I have to tell him off!
I think its a nice change for him though. At work, he simply has to look at his staff and then theyll do exactly what he wants. But when were together in the kitchen, I wont be subservient. He does guess Im a bit bossy. But I think he also quite likes that.
Russell Norman and his wife, Jules, eat her taleggio, onion and thyme tart. Photo: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian
Jules McNally Norman, spouse of Russell Norman, chef, Polpo, BBC2s The Restaurant Man
The dish : Taleggio, caramelised onion and thyme tart. Its a Nigel Slater recipe. Russell likes it, so I make it time and again. Whats it like cooking for the man behind a whole eatery empire ?
How do you cook for someone who feeds 8,000 people a week? Youve got to be pretty ballsy to take them on and, frankly, I tend to think my talents lie elsewhere.
So, hes a nightmare ?
Actually , no. Hes an incredibly appreciative eater. You can even prepare him beans on toast and hell be absolutely delighted. People do wrongly assume he will be dreadful, though. When we started dating and we would be going to someones house for dinner, they would be like: Oh my God! Youre not going to bring Russell? You shouldve insured my sister whos a very good cook the first time Russell came over for dinner. When he cleared his plate she was punching the air, like: Yes!
Cooking for a restaurateur: easier than you would think, then ?
Not always. Hes absolutely fine if he turns up and the snacks stimulated, but you do not want to cook around him. Hes a complete control freak in the kitchen. He cant assistance but give suggestions on how I should prepare something … I have been known to get slightly tantrumy and storm away running: Well you do it, then!
Does he take feedback well ?
There is the odd occasion hell try to challenge our little girls palates with something unusual. If they push it away, he seems entirely crushed. Its the worst thing in the world for him. Its funny, really. You can forget restaurant critics. The people he truly wants to impress with food are his little girls.
David Thomas, spouse of Marina OLoughlin, Guardian restaurant critic
The dish : Chicken larb. She likes to eat it while watching the 50 s cinema version of The King and I.
Who does the cooking at home ?
Me, basically. Marinas not enormously interested in cooking, whereas Id quite happily spend all day in the kitchen. She does occasionally do it, but she thinks that I dont like anything that she cooks. Is it true? No.
So, presumably youre the UKs most intensely scrutinised cook ?
Well, I tell people that I have to make things five times and that theyre then returned as frisbees to the back of my head as I walk away. But actually, shes quite appreciative. Although we do have differences about seasoning. I like a pinch, whereas she likes a handful. But I think thats due to her Italian-Scottish heritage.
If you opened a eatery it would get a positive review, then ?
Yes, I expect so. With a few caveats. Ive been told that my chopping technique leads to what Marina calls big ignorant chunks. Also, theres been the odd ingredient thats been balked at. It didnt go down particularly well when the refrigerator was opened to find an entire smoked animals head sitting there.
Do you ever try to get kudos from being Marina OLoughlins personal cook ?
Not really. Other people probably think that cooking for their own nationals eatery critic is a bigger bargain than it is. Although if you look at Marinas Instagram account, youll see quite a lot of photos of my cooking. Marina has got a huge number of followers, so what I attain in the kitchen actually get quite a lot of coverage. Its very gratifying. Its not everyone who has the opportunity to have Nigel Slater like their blueberry barbecue sauce.