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Top chefs at home: Richard Bertinet

Richard Bertinet, owner of The Bertinet Kitchen, and father of Lola Maude, three, Tom, six, and Jack, nine, on family meals and the recipe for perfect pesto

Posted: 9 September 2010
by Catherine O'Dolan

What would be your perfect family dinner? Seafood, steak and chips followed by a lovely lemon tart.

What are the best recipes for weaning a baby? Ours had all the usual baby rice and puréed fruit and vegetables followed by anything and everything we were eating, just mashed up. My best tip is to teach them how to smell: it’s a sense we often ignore with our children, but by smelling herbs and other things you eat you can really get them interested in food. 

Any golden rules for raising a happy eater? Cook with the children, be adventurous, cook and eat together.

What’s the best way to tempt a fussy eater? If they are hungry, they will eat grown-up food, not a child’s menu.

What’s your favourite restaurant? Noma in Copenhagen, which serves Nordic cuisine. I had a meal there by myself two years ago and was blown away. Everything worked and the team were so nice.

I like to add a little lemon juice to pesto to give some extra zing and freshness. You can also use walnuts instead of pine nuts, or rocket, coriander or a blend of herbs instead of basil. Pesto originates in Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy, where they traditionally make quite subtle, aromatic olive oil, which I prefer to a strong peppery fruity one – the kind that is more typical of Tuscany – as it is a bit too aggressive.

The key to a good pesto is not to overwork the ingredients, otherwise the basil bruises and will start to turn black, and you will lose its fresh flavour. Traditionally, pesto was made using a pestle and mortar but I prefer to use a food processor, using the pulse button, so that you work it as little as possible and keep the pesto nice and coarse but loose. This recipe makes enough to fill 2 medium (250ml) Kilner jars.

100g (3oz) pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
100g (3oz) Parmesan, grated
3-4 bunches of basil (enough to fill the bowl of your food processor loosely)
The juice of 1 lemon
60ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Put the pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan into your food processor and pulse for a few seconds until you have quite a coarse paste. Add the basil and pulse again until the basil has all been chopped. Add the lemon juice and a little of the olive oil and pulse again. Keep adding oil to the mix, pulsing in bursts until you have the texture you want. Taste and season with a little salt if you think it needs it – but remember that Parmesan is quite salty anyway.

The Bertinet Kitchen, 12 St Andrew's Terrace, Bath BA1 2QR. Tel: 01225 445531, visit or email

Simply click on the following names to discover the family food secrets and special recipes of chefs Tristan Welch, Jérôme Ponchelle and Henry Dimbleby.

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