Chef Profile – Sally Abé

Head Chef: The Harwood Arms

The Harwood Arms is the first and only London pub to be awarded a coveted Michelin star. Founded by Chef Brett Graham of The Ledbury**, Mike Robinson of The Woodsman, and Edwin Vaux of Vaux Brewery, the team is led by Head Chef Sally Abé. Sally was named ‘Chef to Watch’ in the National Restaurant Awards 2019, and Chef of the Year in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs 2020. The Harwood Arms also won Gastropub of the Year in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs 2020.

Hidden away in the backstreets of Fulham, The Harwood Arms offers award-winning food and wine in a casual and relaxed setting – championing the very best British produce with a focus on game and wild food.

What inspired you to become a chef?

One of my earliest memories is from when I was about 9, and my mum and I decided to bake croissants together. It was so much fun but ended up taking a lot longer than we were expecting! I remember feeling so happy though because my mum let me stay up to late to finish them with her.

When I moved to Sheffield at 18, I really got into cooking and decided to study hospitality and business management at university, and I’ve followed that path ever since.

I really can’t imagine doing anything other than being a chef – whatever else I could have done would have to have related to food in some way.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the people the most, being able to work with talented people and learning from them, and also helping to show the next generation of chefs what they are capable of.

And least?

The hours, there’s not much free time in this industry!

What is your favourite game bird to cook at home?

Partridge, it’s a good alternative to chicken, it’s more versatile than many game birds, and can take on a wider range of flavours.

What is the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking game at home?

All game is very lean, there’s virtually no fat, so its cooks quickly and can dry up. Cook it hard and fast!


What game in particular benefits from hanging?

I don’t like hanging anything for too long, especially game birds, they have a wonderful flavour anyway, so I don’t see the need to hang it. Game will have been hung for a little while after its been killed, to relax the meat, that’s really all you need.

You are cooking for a dinner party at home with game as the primary ingredient, what would you serve for starters and mains?

Depends on the season, but wood pigeon with cherry and beetroot salad for a starter, then venison Wellington for the main. Delish!

Is there a particular game dish you serve regularly in your restaurant?

We have a large number of game dishes in season at The Harwood Arms, it’s a speciality of the restaurant. Our Venison Scotch Eggs have become famous, we also do a delicious Wellington with Muntjac, and Venison Faggots which are really popular.

What makes game special?

Game has a wonderful earthy flavour, it’s food that’s wild, yet is easily available for us.

What is the best way of encouraging people to eat more game?

As well as recognising that game is wild meat that’s had a rich and natural life, it’s also super lean, low in fat, and very healthy.

What’s the best – and worst – game dish you’ve ever eaten?

Best game dish; the woodcock at The Star Inn at Harome, York, which was served with truffled scrambled eggs.

Worst: no one place in particular, but in general, overcooked grouse, bitter and tough.

Is there any game you don’t – or wouldn’t – eat?

There’s nothing I wouldn’t try! //