Look who's coming to dinner... Ben Milne
PUBLISHED: 01:16 04 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:08 20 February 2013
WEL discovers the secret passions of local figures from the food and wine industry... This month we spend some time with Ben Milne, of The Deli Station Ltd, Chingford.
Name: Ben Milne
Job title: Cheesemonger, Salesman, Driver, Warehouseman, Accountant, Jack of all trades like most SME owners!
Restaurant: Cheese & wine pop-up at The Deli Station Ltd, Chingford
How did you get started?
I have always loved fine food but Jo, my wife, was fortunate enough to have a career sourcing ingredients from all over the world. We decided a few years back to throw in our corporate jobs and start up on our own. In hindsight that was a bigger jump than perhaps I thought it would be, but weve had suchgreat feedback.
Where have you worked before now?
In my time I have worked in a fish and chip shop in Loughton, for Henry Taylors School Outfitters in Walthamstow, then went into transport. My last corporate role was as a director for City Link before I plunged into food. Now running my own business with my wife, I do everything and love every minute. I love the fact we supply such a diverse customer base from pop-up restaurateurs, Michelin starred chefs, contract caterers, high-end chains and high street restaurants. Its great to share our passion for food, with somany types of people.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
Making pecorino with Vittorio Beltrami and his friend Lucio Pompili in Marche, Italy. Vittorio is a small slow food producer, who only has about 80 sheep but is renowned for being a bit of a social entrepreneur in the region. Lucio is a fascinating guy, a Michelin starred chef who followed Marco Polos trip through Asia, cooking while he went. The time I spent with them was amazing.
If you could invite five famous people, living or dead, to a dinner party who would they be?
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; a great chef, I love his passion and values. Jeremy Clarkson; hes hilarious, opinionated and never short of things to say. Alan Sugar; hell cut to the chase and say what he thinks. John Cleese; I loved watching him on the TV as a kid. Finally the king of TV celebrity chefs Keith Floyd; I would have to buy a few extra bottles of vino though!
Where would you host it?
Here under the wine glass chandelier with a few bottles of Amarone at The Deli Station HQ, as long as Mrs Milne would allow such an unruly bunch tobe unsupervised.
What would you serve?
Pappardelle with wild mushrooms covered with thick shavings of white & black truffle pecorino. Followed by a rabbit stew cooked with vegetables, herbs & natural black ripened olives that had been oven roasted with fennel and orange peel, served in a red wine jus;all on a bed of polenta to soak up all the juices! May finish off with evenmore cheese.
Which chef would you ask to cook?
I would give it a bash myself, I love cooking, and I find it therapeutic however I have no doubt a few of my guests may be sticking their noses in!
How would the seating plan look?
A free for all, whoever gets to the table first its all about the food here not the seating plan.
What would you talk about?
Food, business, cooking, life, politics.
Who would dominate the conversation?
I think there would be no stopping Keith, however theyre all strong characters so my ploy would be to keep topping up the wine and hope for the best. It could be carnage.
If your guests started getting bored how would you entertain them?
In school I used to be called badly made Ben on account of always crashing over things and being clumsy! As a young man this lead to some unfortunate incidents spilling red wine, which always tends to amuse people at my expense, particularly the story about the spillage at a wedding.