A down-to-earth chef – both in theory and in practice – Australian Skye Gyngell left Petersham Nurseries’ Café (for which she’d earned a Michelin star) behind to set up Spring, her own seasonal and superlatively elegant restaurant in Somerset House in 2014. Neoclassical cornicing and a mirror installation by Studio Peascod aside, it’s Gyngell’s ethical entrepreneurship that impresses. It has driven her to launch Scratch, a pre-theatre menu using wonky or surplus fruit and vegetables from the restaurant’s supplier farm.
My all-time favourite piece of music? I grew up in the 1970s in Sydney, but it was music from the west coast of America that formed the backdrop to my teenage years – I love Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, the Doobie Brothers and any of the Motown classics.
At the moment I am listening to Beauty in the Dark (Groove With You) by the Isley Brothers and Mos Def – it’s on repeat. If I want to feel instantly happy, it’s Kiss by Prince.
My favourite writer is Tim Winton. I find his beautiful and visceral descriptions of the Australian landscape and his wonderful, flawed characters irresistible.
The book I am currently reading is The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain. She is another favourite author of mine, and this book is a complete pleasure to read. I’m also dipping into David Tanis’s new book Market Cooking – I really love the way he writes and thinks about food.
My favourite film is The Notebook. It’s my girls’ most-loved film [Gyngell has two daughters]. I’ve seen it a thousand times over the years with them and they always cry when we watch it together, which makes me cry – it’s a sort of ritual! Also, Moonlight left me feeling like I couldn’t breathe – I found it utterly beautiful and deeply moving.
The last exhibition I saw was ‘Boom for Real’, the Basquiat (Untitled, 1982) exhibition at the Barbican, which I loved. I also visited the Agnes Martin retrospective at The Guggenheim last year. It is definitely my exhibition of the decade!
I collect cookbooks – I’ve got thousands that I treasure and that inspire me. I’m also drawn to glass objects, and love the work of south London-based glassblower Michael Ruh
My favourite place in the world is the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia, where my brother lives. It feels like paradise and home at the same time.
The Christmas present that I most enjoy giving is jewellery. I give the girls a piece each every year; something simple that they can keep for ever.
One of the things I’m most looking forward to, culturally and gastronomically, about the festive season is Christmas pudding. I always feel excited about the prospect of eating it on Christmas Day!
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration January 2018