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a life in architecture

jeremy lee

Good food goes well with good architecture, according to Jeremy Lee, head chef of the Blueprint Café at the Design Museum.

He names two of his favourite restaurants to illustrate his point - one in London, the other in California.

St John, near Smithfield Market, is run by Fergus Henderson, who trained as an architect. Lee loves how Henderson has handled the interior of the old smokehouse (see picture). 'It's a very elegant way of dealing with a large space that most of us would have been tempted to muck about with, but Fergus boldly left it alone.

'You still have a sense of this great working space in which you can sit down and eat and have a good time. It has a wonderful Spartan simplicity and a nice wit that you rarely get in restaurants nowadays.'

Chez Panisse, opened more than 30 years ago in Berkeley by Alice Waters, is his American choice. Lee says Waters is 'a marvel. What she did then is what allows us to do what we do now'. He describes the architecture of Chez Panisse as 'a cross between Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright'.

The original dining room was tiny. An upstairs cafe was added later, making the place much larger. 'It's on many different levels and has all sorts of nooks and crannies, all charmingly done in wood.

'You know that the thought that's gone into the building must also have gone into the food, the menus and the staff.'And the cooking? 'Extraordinary.'

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