Since 1999 he has held an annual charity event, 'Who's Cooking Dinner?', which brings together chefs such as Tom Kerridge, Marcus Wareing and Angela Hartnett to raise money for leukaemia research, an issue close to Peter Gordon’s heart since successfully donating bone marrow to his sister. Together with restaurateur Chris Corbin, they have raised over £5 million (and counting!). He is also patron of RAFT (Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust) which helps pioneer treatment for skin-disfiguring conditions and injuries, an issue which also has personal resonance in Peter Gordon’s life since suffering horrific burns after pulling a pan of hot fat onto his head aged seven.
Peter Gordon has also found the time to write nine cookbooks and contribute to at least a dozen more. He both writes every word: “I love the process of writing, but it’s a hard slog” and tests the recipes himself in a domestic kitchen – no small feat for a man with so many other demanding projects on the go.
Often described as the godfather of modern fusion cooking, Peter Gordon’s food reflects the reality of today’s globalisation. He says: “Fusion food takes, as it’s starting point, the belief that any ingredient, from any part of the world, has the potential to be cooked and eaten.” He rejects the fixed notion of traditional food – the idea that real British food, for example, is only what was cooked in an imagined past – a fiction that belies the reality of historical exploration and trade, colonialism, immigration and the widespread pollination of foodstuffs, far away from their true place of origin. “Culinary xenophobia”, as he describes it.
He points out that “Worcestershire sauce, which is a very traditional British condiment, has tamarind in it – which is a very Middle Eastern and Asian ingredient. Yet we don’t consider the sauce a fusion dish.” It is worth noting that we Brits also have the Peruvians to thank for the potato. Flavour and texture are the elements that drive Peter Gordon’s fun, playful cuisine, rather than provenance: “I don’t come from a long line of foodie snobs and like to have fun with flavour”.
Although this doesn’t mean that Peter Gordon’s food is characterised by eye-watering air miles – his restaurants source the most interesting ingredients from around the world – “the global pantry is my inspiration” – but these are served with the very best of seasonal, local produce. Sustainability and high animal welfare are of crucial importance and his restaurants have been recognised in the sector for their commitment to these important principles.
The future for Peter Gordon is one of exploration and learning. Taking a little time off to travel through Central and South America, as ever he is on the look out for new tastes and textures “just waiting to be discovered”. Diners at his popular restaurants, and the hipster-fusion eateries of the future, will be interested to see what he brings back.