Suzanne Lindfors BN1 Magazine

Brighton Food Lovers: Suzanne Lindfors

BN1 Magazine speaks to three food lovers and gets the lowdown on what excites their palates

Suzanne Lindfors is from Brighton’s Best Restaurants, a group of restaurant-loving foodies who champion the city’s independent dining scene through an annual awards ceremony and an associated restaurant festival, OctoberBEST

What made you fall in love with food to begin with?

Most people say their mum’s cooking ignited their love of food, but it was my dad’s enthusiasm for eating that made me realise food was something very important. He loved restaurants and would get really excited when presented with a menu. We’d discuss what we both fancied, and we always chose the same dishes – anything meaty or gamey. He encouraged me from a young age to try new things and I remember eating rabbit and pigeon in a restaurant in Cork once when I was seven and loving it – to the horror of my little sister. Our summers in Sweden fishing on the lake and picking wild strawberries are my favourite food memories.

What was the first dish you can remember really enjoying?

The dish that stands out most from childhood was my Irish granny’s sherry trifle. She’d make it every Christmas garnished with silver balls and candied angelica, using tinned fruit and powdered custard. The worse her dementia became, the more alcoholic and sloppy was the trifle – to the point that one year my Uncle John, serving spoon in hand, deadpanned “can I pour you some?”. I still make her trifle every year for my family.

If you were going to make a delicious meal for a loved one to show off a bit, what would it be and why?

I only really got into cooking when I moved to London when I was 21. The produce at my local Turkish shops and bakeries in Haringey blew my mind (Dublin back then was a bit of a foodie wasteland). Now I’m living by the sea again, seafood is my go-to if I’m making a special meal. I’ll buy monkfish, prawns, squid and mussels from Fish at Hove Lagoon and make a huge paella (Jose Pizarro’s recipe is the one) with a shaved fennel salad. I love anything hearty brought to the table we can all get stuck into.

If you’ve had a down day, what be the ‘go to’ cuisine that cheers you up?

If I’m feeling out of sorts, I’ll put the radio on and spend a bit of time making homemade meatballs and a garlicky tomato sauce and eat them with a mountain of spaghetti and loads of Parmesan in front of trashy TV. Then it’ll be an entire cheap supermarket tiramisu (to serve four) eaten from the box with a spoon.

When it comes to food – what do you think are the most overrated dishes, and, conversely, what do you feel are the least appreciated dishes and why?

I’m not a food snob. Eat and drink whatever makes you happy. I do get a bit riled by unnecessarily calorific food though. Burgers topped with beef chilli or an entire deep-fried Camembert … there’s just no need. I’m also a bit mystified by the concept of a £5 doughnut.

Do you think, especially in regards to children, that learning enough about nutrition is being done, or indeed important?

My kids are quite fussy eaters which drives me mad, but they also eat food I didn’t try until I was in my 20s – their favourite place is Pompoko for teriyaki chicken, gyoza and sesame ice cream. They’re much more likely to try something new if they’ve helped me cook it, but unfortunately that’s not always an option for busy parents. I’d like them to be more connected to their food and where it comes from – I loved going to the butcher and greengrocers with my granny, who she’d known by name, and watch the process of our meal come together from shop to plate.

If you had the capability to affect change in any element of the food or restaurant industry, what would it be, and why?

I think it’s brilliant how many new innovative and exciting restaurants have sprung up in Brighton lately despite the challenges of recent years. Our independent restaurant scene is one of the many things that makes Brighton stand out, and we must support it at all costs. Since Covid, there seems to be a culture of people booking multiple restaurants, then choosing which one they fancy on the night. They don’t seem to realise the damage they’re doing through last-minute cancellations or just not turning up. If there isn’t already a blacklist of repeat offenders circulating among Brighton restaurants, there should be.

Could you tell us what you’re up to at the moment?

Right now I’m busy getting ready to launch the annual OctoberBEST restaurant festival with my colleagues at Brighton’s Best Restaurants – where around 30 of the city’s best restaurants lay on special menus and events. It’s getting more popular every year – last year some menus sold out within 20 minutes – and is a lovely thing to be involved with. Seeing people go out in droves to spend money at local independents during what is usually a quiet month for restaurants brings me great joy. Follow @brightonsbestrestaurants on Instagram for all the launch news and info.

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