Opening its doors in 2008, The Modern Pantry is now famous for its wholly original flavour combinations, featuring the best of local, seasonal produce coupled with eclectic, bold flavours and unusual ingredients from global cuisines. In 2011 she also released an accompanying book, The Modern Pantry Cookbook, which aims to broaden the home cook's inspiration and repertoire and help them create simple but creative dishes for their nearest and dearest.
Echoing Peter Gordon’s description of New Zealanders as an immigrant, “magpie” nation, Anna Hansen tells the website Best Emerging Chefs that her culinary philosophy is “driven by the desire to please and excite the palate. My larder is global. There are no cultural or culinary boundaries in my kitchen.” Ingredients such as tamarind, miso, fresh turmeric, umeboshi plums, yuzu and liquorice are commonplace on her menus, which reflect London’s unselfconscious cosmopolitanism. She tells The Staff Canteen website: “I’m happy with the label ‘fusion’ because it’s a genre of food which is entitled to be respected.”
But her food is also driven by seasonality “which in itself I find inspiring”. Whilst her food and flavour profiles are global, the produce she uses in her restaurant is very much local and she is dedicated to sourcing sustainable supplies. Featured in Coco, Phaidon’s book on who to watch in the culinary world, she says her restaurant is “sustainable in whatever way we can be, from traceability - who we buy our fish from - to how we dispose of our waste. Everything is recycled if at all possible. So it is really important to us and something we are working on constantly.” The Modern Pantry holds the maximum three stars awarded by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Anna Hansen is a long-time supporter of Action Against Hunger and cycled from London to Paris in 2012 to help raise funds to end child hunger. In the same year she was awarded an MBE for services to the restaurant industry. She told Easyjet Traveller: “they explained it was about succeeding as a woman, for being one of the few females to have left an impression on the London restaurant scene as a chef, I thought, I can deal with that."
The Modern Pantry is set to open a sister restaurant soon in Finsbury Square. The new venue will also have a tapas bar and café, so stay tuned for that!