Here at the Pavilion Cafe we have an extraordinary amount of extraordinary people visiting us every day. We’ll be sharing their interesting stories and thoughts on the cafe over the coming weeks, so keep checking back to read the latest tale.
Name: Peter Stowell Phillips (“I don’t like a hyphen”)
Profession: Head Chef (retired)
Favourite meal at the cafe: a prawn sandwich on granary bread with a salad garnish and a pot of tea – one earl grey, one ‘normal’ teabag.
ZB: How often do you come to the cafe?
PSP: “Since I retired, I’ve enjoyed coming down here on a very regular basis…I come nearly every day. There’s a group of us and we meet, and we chat about everything: politics, sex, Big Brother, you name it we talk about it.”
Peter’s been coming for sandwiches since 1963 when he got his first flat, Number 1 New Road, just behind the cafe.
“I can remember David when he was 4 years old, he used to ride around on a little red noddy bike going ding-a-ling ding-a-ling”
ZB: So, I’ve heard that you’re famous for something, what is it?
PSP: “40 years ago, when I was young and handsome and aged 27, I went into the Tate gallery, where they’d just purchased a pile of old bricks, and I coloured them blue. I got front page on every newspaper in the country.”
In fact, the BBC are in the process of making a documentary about Peter’s infamous protest against the use of taxpayers’ money to buy Carl Andre’s controversial piece. This should be available to watch late Autumn, we’ll be posting about it on our website and social media, so stay tuned (pun intended!).
Peter has a very colourful life, as well as the Tate drama, he’s cooked for a Prime Minister, a President (“no names! I won’t name them!”) and the famous singer Marlene Ditrich:
“I adored (her), I worshipped the ground she walked on…I’m a sweet little 17 year old and I fell head over heels in love with Marlene Ditrich…I went into my first job at the Metropole, I was supposed to be the sous chef poissionier and they said will you go up and do breakfast? I was furious! Two years college trained at Westminster, where Jamie Oliver went, would I go do breakfast? I said I wasn’t going to do breakfast and they said you will do breakfast, it’s your first day, don’t start telling us! The very first order was an omelette for Miss Marlene Ditrich – well, I never got over it, still haven’t!…Later, an immaculate waiter came in and I got him by the throat and said ‘what did she look like, and what did she say to you?! The waiter said: I knocked on Miss Ditrich’s door, and a very deep voice said Put it down and GO AWAY!”
Peter has also kindly given us his recipe for the Peanut Soup he made a certain president (the clue is in the dish):
For Peanut Soup:
1) 1 litre of very good quality chicken stock
2) Stir in 2 heaped tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
3) 1 glass of dry sherry or wine
4) Garnish with 4 thin slices of lime, a nice blog of creme fraiche, finely chopped parsley and spring onions and serve.
Despite brushing shoulders with the famous, Peter insists he’s not conceited, perhaps his old-fashioned life-style keeps him grounded; “I still use candles and gas lighters…I bake my own bread and do my own washing in the tub”.
Peter’s also a bit of an artist himself; he’s had 7 one-man exhibitions and can sketch Marlene from memory, which he did so for me in only 10 minutes:
ZB: So Peter, any parting words?
PSP: “As someone who’s been in catering all my life, what I admire about David, one of the hardest jobs he’s got, is when you do seasonal work, you don’t know whether it’s going to be roasting with sun or pissing with rain and you’ve got to buy accordingly. It’s very very hard, and it doesn’t matter if he’s got a queue a mile long, I’ve never heard him say ‘I’m sorry I’ve run out, he’s very good at knowing what to buy”. “David really runs (the cafe) to perfection, and all his staff are wonderful too and they come from all over Europe – French, German, Italian, they’re lovely”.
Words by Zoe Brownrigg