Unfiltered: Charlotte Prescot

From 9th March, GM and wine buyer of Kitchen W8, Charlotte Prescot is offering a selection of her finer wines by the glass close to cost price including 2000 Château d’Armailhac, 2014 Pommard Clos des Épeneaux, Domaine Comte Armand and 2006 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino as a means,, she says, “of us making our wine offering more accessible and frankly more fun…” She speaks to Douglas Blyde.

What is your vintage?

I’ve not had the opportunity to drink much from my birth year of 1988 though I do have a special bottle of Rivesaltes in my collection. I grew up in Leamington Spa. My mum’s father was Italian and despite never meeting him, I’ve always felt connected to that heritage which has undoubtedly influenced my career choices.

How did River Café and Lorne help shape you? 

Before working at the River Café, I worked for a few different Italian chain restaurants including Zizzi’s and ASK so had developed an interest in the country and its cuisine through these jobs. But the River Café was a revelation: I’d never worked somewhere where the produce was paramount. It excited me to help on the prep line and familiarise myself with new ingredients and learn about the dishes and wines of different regions. I had found somewhere special. It was such an honour to later be asked to work at Lorne. The restaurant is owned by my friend, Katie Exton, with whom I’d worked at River Café and stepping in to cover her maternity leave was a privilege. At Lorne, I really came to understand the importance of the culture of a restaurant and the responsibility of a manager to aspire to be a leader.

How does a wine earn its place on the Kitchen W8 list? 

A question I often ask myself when tasting something new is, “could I drink a whole bottle of this?”

What are examples of standout producers? 

Cullen, Littorai, Pazo Señorans, Pieropan, Produttori del Barbaresco, Domaine Tissot, Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Hubert Lamy.

How many references are there? 

200.

What wines are you likely to be adding and subtracting?

I think a wine list is successful when the buyers or curators are open to change. Everything must be on the list for a reason but that doesn’t mean it’s earned its place indefinitely. Anything and everything could change.

What style of wine could you do without? 

I must confess that I find big and heavily extracted reds a bit of a challenge for me. I couldn’t see myself ever ordering a Zinfandel.

What would you match with head chef, Mark Kempson’s dish of grilled Calçot onions, Parmesan gnocchi, wild leeks, hazelnut and Périgord truffle? 

Personally, I would want to drink this with a lighter red. Nothing too tannic and something with a bit of spice and sweet fruit to complement the earthy hazelnuts and truffle, as well as the sweet, caramelised flavours from the leeks and calçots. I’m really enjoying the 2019 Calcinaires Rouge from Domaine Gauby at the moment and think this would be a delicious pairing.

Why does the restaurant have such a boring name? And what could be a better one? 

I think a geographical name suits as we are part of a small group so that’s a uniting feature. If the name were to change then I think a nod to our head chef – since day one – Mark Kempson would be apposite.

What is the number of the best table in the house? 

That’s an insider secret, but we do have a very pretty private room at the front.

What is your motto? 

My mum once told me hers which I confess to having taken a liking to: “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.” Although that makes me sound like a terrible person!

Chartreuse or Strega? 

Chartreuse.

Tell us something surprising about yourself? 

I’m a bit of a history nut and I think I could tell you anything about Anne Boleyn!

Describe the playlist at the restaurant? 

We don’t play music – our soundtrack is the happy chatter of our guests.

What guest habit frustrates you? 

I find being “instructed” by guests a little challenging. Making guests happy is a vocation, so the odd occasion when it’s not understood that you know what you’re doing can detract a little from the pleasure.

What ingredient do you struggle to enjoy? 

Lamb. I was raised as a vegetarian and I’m happy to try anything now, but lamb remains my nemesis.

If not wine, then what? 

I’d have to be doing something involving restaurants – I’ve found them fascinating from a really young age.

Cheese or cake? 

Cheese.

Run or swim? 

Neither. But cycling, on the other hand…

Hollywood or art-house cinema?

Probably Hollywood.

Who should prospective candidates contact if they want to join your team, and what attributes in them do you seek?

Me. While tempting to judge based purely on skill sets, experience has taught me that the right person is so much more important than the skills they represent. Being passionate, willing to learn and loving being part of a team are really important to us at KW8.

 

Fine wines will be served by the glass at cost price at Kitchen W8 from 9 March 2022.

For more info and to book: www.kitchenw8.com | 020 7937 0120

Kitchen W8 – 11-13 Abingdon Road, Kensington, London, W8 6AH; 020 7937 0120; [email protected]; kitchenw8.com

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