British chef Skye Gyngell was born in Australia. Previously at The Petersham Nurseries, where she was awarded a Michelin Star, she set up her own restaurant Spring in Somerset House.
Designer, stylist and curator, Evie Henderson, is Skye’s daughter and Founder of the Yellow World.
Where did you grow up?
Skye: Sydney. It was, in many ways, an idyllic childhood. The beach was at the end of our road and we ran free.
How did your story begin?
Skye: By chance. I got a job in a Lebanese restaurant washing up in my first year of university whilst I was (unhappily) studying law. I fell in love with everything about food and the culture of restaurants. The owner, Layla Sorfie, had the biggest heart and transformed my life by giving so much of her time and knowledge. I didn’t complete my degree (much to my parents’ irritation) but instead moved to Paris to study cooking at La Varenne under chef Anne Wilson (the most brilliant school which doesn't exist any more). I never lived in Australia again.
What does family mean to you?
Skye: Everything. My family of origin all still live in Australia; we are really close and involved in each other's lives. I go home as often as possible and we all meet somewhere in the world with our kids once a year. I have another, different kind of family in London and I feel very lucky to have both.
Where do you live and work currently?
Skye: In West London. I work between London and Hampshire. I love everything about London - it's my city of choice. There is so much freedom to be who you want to be.
What is your daily routine?
Skye: I'm very lazy in the morning, and spend the first couple of hours working from home. I always do lunch service and stay until the early evening, getting back at around 8pm. I do pilates at least five times a week. I find it's a good way to unwind and re-set, as well as keeping at bay all the aches and pains of having worked on my feet for the last 40 years.
Skye: My two girls, Holly and Evie. I know they are not my achievements! But they make me incredibly proud.
Biggest Challenge to date?
Skye: Life is always full of obstacles to overcome. I try to tackle them head on because once they have passed I always feel stronger and more capable. I’ve been married twice and raised kids on my own, but it was the pandemic I found the most testing. I’m a cook and I had to make huge financial and management decisions which made me feel very inadequate. 67 people are employed at Spring. I was faced with huge moral decisions, and had no idea how to do the right thing by those dependent on me.
Who or what inspires you?
Skye: Impressive and historic art. I recently saw Peter Doig at the Courtauld and thought it was wonderful. People's genius and brilliance galvanises me more than anything. I also love food markets in foreign places- California has amazing ones. San Francisco is the fruit bowl of the world, the market in the Ferry Building is like nothing else. American production is a game of two halves: it's the most industrialised, yet also grows the best organic food. My world can get very small, cooking for the wealthy. It’s important to experience other cultures, and bring it back to your work for inspiration.
Describe your current projects?
Skye: Over the last year or so all my energy has gone into getting Spring back on track after the pandemic. I’m only now feeling ready to start again. I’m bursting with ideas, but at the moment they are just that.
What do you wear in the kitchen?
Skye: Birkenstock clogs, an oversized chef jacket and classic checked chef trousers. It's the comfiest uniform ever!
Meal of choice?
Skye: Some sort of delicious salad. The French say ‘composee’, stuffed full of lots of delicious ingredients. I love food at room temperature and anything with olive oil and acidity (like fresh lemon juice). My go to when I’m tired is good bread and cheese. I bring freshly baked loaves home from Spring, the porridge sourdough is spectacular. And I love British farmhouse cheeses.
What factors do you consider when writing a menu?
Skye: It has to have a frame and form and then we look at what is available and beautiful from the farm.
What would you have been in another lifetime?
Skye: A gardener or a grower. It’s such satisfying work, you can plant a seed and something beautiful grows. It's all about form and composition.
Last item of clothing you bought?
Skye: A pair of sandals by The Row.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Skye: Perhaps tenacity?
Rule to live by?
Skye: Always treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Where do you live and work currently?
Evie: Notting Hill. I work for myself and this generally takes place from my kitchen table.
What are your current projects?
Evie: A very exciting knitwear project for DL1961 which is launching in early October. I met Sara Ahmed a year ago and we instantly clicked. It’s all made in Rome, and the concept is layering lots of soft, thin cashmere pieces. The effect is like a second skin.
What qualities do you admire most in your mother?
Evie: Her independence, generosity, and enthusiasm for what she does. I think it's very impressive in life to have the innate confidence to leave one situation with the faith that there will be something better around the corner. Starting Spring London was a huge undertaking as a single mum, and she’s created something remarkable from the ground up.
Favourite look you’ve worn to date?
Evie: An outfit I wore on repeat as a three year old, red wellies and a red duffle coat. Sadly I don't feel I could pull it off with the same pzazz now.
What values do you look for in a clothing brand?
Evie: Items that are stylish, beautiful and wearable. Comfort is always key to looking and feeling your best.
What is your most treasured possession?
Evie: My teddy bear, Eeyore, I’ve had him my entire life and I intend for us to be buried together.
Favourite place in the world?
Evie: Sydney, it's where my family are.
Favourite dish cooked by your mother?
Evie: Spaghetti bolognese. I don’t know what makes it so good. Probably the pancetta.
What singles your mother out from other chefs?
Evie: She puts good produce and suitability at the forefront of everything.
Greatest life lesson your mother has taught you?
Evie: Independence and being able to stand on my own two feet.
Are you a lone wolf or prefer to work as part of a team?
Evie: I prefer to work independently, but I love connecting with exceptional people through interesting collaborations and projects. I met Antonine Peduzzi and Luisa Orsini, the founders of French Italian brand TL 180, during lockdown on instagram and we gelled immediately. We do each other’s thinking and finish each other's sentences.
If you weren’t living in London where would you be?
Evie: Somewhere else in Europe like Paris. It's romantic and rude at the same time which I find oddly charming.
What is your most treasured item of clothing?
Evie: My vintage Levis which cost 9 dollars.
What attracts you to issue twelve's collections?
Evie: Its simplicity. I adore my chocolate brown cords, they’re really easy to wear in the day and can be dressed up. Plus the fabric is sublime.
Where is your happy place?
Evie: My bed - being cocooned at the end of the day is the best feeling in the world.
What keeps you motivated daily?
Evie: My shopping addiction.
What would you like your legacy to be?
Evie: That I was kind and generous without exception.