Under the grill- No. 10 Restaurant in Sheringham
With just 32-covers, No 10 Restaurant in Sheringham is small but perfectly formed. Success, says Moroccan-born chef-proprietor Mustapha Fassih, lies in serving local food, simply cooked- and no sheep eyeballs!
The perfect 10
With just 32-covers, No 10 Restaurant in Sheringham is small but perfectly formed. Success, says Moroccan-born chef-proprietor Mustapha Fassih, lies in serving local food, simply cooked-and no sheep eyeballs!
Picture: Simon Finlay
Why did you choose to become a chef? I was brought up in Morocco and from early childhood I would accompany my mother to the market every day. It fascinated me and triggered my interest in food. When I came to England aged 21, I was lucky enough to work with a group of French chefs at a restaurant in London; it was a great way to learn the basics on the job. I moved to Norfolk about 10 years ago and worked at The Last Wine Bar in Norwich before opening my restaurant.
What are your favourite local ingredients to use? Asparagus, crab and any fish the local fishermen bring in. The fishermen’s slope is just round the corner from the restaurant and they catch mostly wild sea bass, grey mullet and crab and lobsters.
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What is the strangest thing you have eaten? When I was about 12 I travelled to the Sahara desert in Morocco with my father and we were served camel feet. It came with a chickpea and caramelised onion sauce, so I ate the sauce and tried to avoid the feet!
What has been the highlight of your career? While working in London I catered mini fish and chips in newspaper for 400 people – many of them A-list guests – at the launch of Vivienne Westwood’s perfume.
What would you do about the UK’s obesity problem? Children don’t go food shopping with their family the way I did as a child so they don’t understand where food comes from. I think schools should take children out to see fishmongers, farms and butchers, or maybe have a smallholding in every school where they can go to see how food is produced.
Do you grow your own vegetables or fruit? We have a family allotment where our children Mattilda, 10, Harriet, 12, and Florence, 15, grow vegetables, flowers and herbs.
What would your last supper consist of? A whole sea bass, roasted with a little olive oil, sea salt and garlic, and served with potatoes and salad.What is your favourite speedy supper recipe? An omelette with fresh eggs from our friends’ chickens and herbs from the garden. The best advice a fellow chef gave me was “always cook fresh”.
Are there any foods you can’t stand? Sheep eyeballs! There’s a myth that Moroccan people are brought up to eat everything from the head to tail of an animal, but it comes from the story of a European ambassador who went to visit an Arabic country. To welcome his guest, the king ordered his shepherds sacrifice the best sheep and they presented the ambassador with the eyeballs to show what good health it had been in. Mistaking it for a delicacy, the ambassador picked up an eyeball and ate it. To honour his guest the king was forced to eat the other eye too!
No 10 Restaurant, 10 Augusta Street, Sheringham, NR26 8LA, 01263 824400; www.no10sheringham.com