Who are you and what do you do?
I am Manu Canales, and you can find me cooking at Kebab Queen in Covent Garden. For as long as I remember, I’ve been fascinated by food, which is the reason I became a chef.
Tell us about Kebab Queen
It’s the icing on the cake of our Kebab project, which also includes Le Bab and Maison Bab. It’s a beautiful little place where we work hard to give our guests a memorable and tasty experience.
You come home drunk and hungry – what do you cook?
Fried eggs with a crispy edge, with plenty of bread to dip.
What’s the strangest encounter you’ve had in your restaurant?
A customer liked my hair and kept trying to touch it – so irritating, and weird.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Having yoghurt at nursery. Mrs Elena had a peculiar way to open it; instead of tearing the lid, she’d poke it with the handle of the spoon, give it to you and let you dig your way in. It felt rewarding.
Tell us about the best meal you ever had
It was a dinner I had somewhere in Northern Thailand. We’d been trekking for a week in the jungle, going up and down, through rain, crossing rivers with the water up to our necks when we finally made it to a village. We shared a chicken and rice dish with the locals, eating it with our hands. It couldn’t have been a more authentic experience.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
Funny one – I was watching Spain during the World Cup nine years ago with a friend. We had eaten some Pringles, and finished the tub. We were very nervous, my friend was biting his nails and spitting them into the tub. I thought that they were the crumbs of the Pringles and went for it… Yuk!
What do most people get wrong when cooking?
Failing to learn the right cooking times for different ingredients. I also see a lot of people incorrectly seasoning their dishes.
What should everyone have in their kitchen cupboard?
A large selection of spices. They will help you to break the monotony in your cooking, giving you access to an endless range of flavours.
What’s the best thing about the London food scene?
Despite being a large city, away from nature, chefs are growing more conscious about the environment and trying to achieve more sustainable ways of delivering food and eating it.
What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve seen a chef do?
Someone forgot to cook some langoustines and, when the order was called, the chef ran them under hot water from the tap to quickly warm them up and make them look as if they were cooked – not good.
• To book a table at Kebab Queen go to its website at kebabqueen.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 07751 240029 or pop in to 4 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, WC2H 9FA