My life on a plate - Sir Terence Conran

My life on a plate – Sir Terence Conran

Entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran shares a dish that reminds him of his mum and the roast grouse recipe he would pass on to the next generation.

Entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran studied textile design at the Central School of Art and Design in London. He opened his first restaurant, The Soup Kitchen, in 1953, and since then has launched more than 40 more worldwide. He set up Habitat, the home furnishings company, in 1964, and 10 years later established The Conran Shop in London. He has written many books about his design philosophy. The latest, My Life in Design (£30, Conran Octopus), is out now.


The recipe I grew up with… 

During rationing, cooking was difficult and I was always hungry. I remember my mother’s kedgeree, which we ate as a main meal rather than for breakfast. It was a treat – we had it maybe once a month.

During the Second World War, every bit of food cost a certain number of coupons, but, as I recall, you could get a reasonable lump of haddock with very few. My mother use to do The Times crossword each morning and read a book a day. If middle-class girls back then had been encouraged to have careers, she would’ve been a designer. She ensured that my sister Priscilla and I had a creative upbringing.

My father drew very well, so I got genes from him too. We lived in an old farmhouse in Hampshire during the war, as the roof of our London home had been blown off. But the Germans found out that there was an arms dump nearby, and one night they saturated the area with incendiary bombs. The farm next door was set alight and German planes started to dive bomb it. We were under the dining room table thinking, ‘It’s going to be us any moment.’ Soon after, I went to live with an aunt in a lovely house in Devon that had a stream, and I learned to fish. Now I own a small group of restaurants in London called Albion, which serve British classics, including kedgeree.

Try out this simple curried haddock kedgeree recipe for a filling family meal.

The recipe I would pass on…

Roast grouse is my favourite treat. I always look forward to the start of the game season – although I don’t shoot myself. I roast the grouse in goose fat for 18 minutes, so that the bird is still fleshy. It’s a pleasure to have a wonderful whole grouse in front of me, knowing it will take almost three-quarters of an hour to get every scrap off the bones. I use the roasting juices to make a red wine gravy. I like it with bread sauce, a salad and a good bottle of burgundy. I serve grouse on porcelain plates with my family crest – a hawk with an olive twig in its beak sitting on two serpents.

The plates come from my father’s side. I own some of the originals, and have had a dozen new ones made. I now have five children, three stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and one or two great grandchildren, and I want to hand this recipe down to them. Some people might say that shooting grouse is antisocial, but roast grouse is one of the best dishes that Yorkshire and Scotland have to offer, and I would very much like to see it preserved.

Try out Sir Terence’s succulent roast grouse recipe for a special Sunday treat.


What are the recipes that remind you of home? Let us know in the comments below…