Table Manners: Jessie Ware introduces us to the wonders of the “drunken salad”

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Table Manners podcaster and musician Jessie Ware talks to Stylist about her favourite “drunken salad” recipe and reveals which dinner guest she was most nervous about meeting.

Table Manners fans will know that food is family for singer Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie. The mother-and-daughter team have been cooking, laughing and squabbling in the kitchen together for their hit podcast since its launch in 2017. Since then they have invited some seriously top-tier guests round to their house for dinner. From Emilia Clarke to Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi – these women know how to cook up a storm and throw a dinner party.

Although lockdown has brought some logistical difficulties, the Wares have managed to continue season nine by holding virtual dinner parties on Zoom. This enables them to easily connect with big stars, like Florence Pugh and John Legend, from across the pond, but it also means that Jessie and Lennie are apart. Many listeners relate to not being able to see family members at the moment, which makes this such a comforting, and hilarious, listen. 

To help while away the bank holiday weekend, Jessie is holding an online Google Nest Session on Sunday (24 May).  “I’ll be slapdashedly cooking a ‘drunken salad’ recipe,” she tells Stylist over the phone. “Then I’ve made a really energising disco playlist: optimistic music is what I’m listening to right now. And I’ll be singing some songs with my backing singers – remotely, of course – from my living room.”

Intrigued by the idea of making a drunken salad over the weekend, we wanted to know exactly what else Ware has been getting up to during lockdown.

What is this “drunken salad” you’re cooking for the Nest Session?

A friend of mine who I made a lot of records with, Benny Blanco, provided a delicious salad when we cooked for Ottolenghi [on Table Manners] and we had this big summer lunch. It features in our cookbook – it’s this delicious drunken crouton and kale parmesan salad. It’s perfect for now, especially if you’ve got some stale sourdough. And it has loads of wine in it – which is basically my lockdown story.

Food clearly pays a huge part in your family’s relationship – especially with you and your mum – how has lockdown affected that?

My mum has been roasting chicken for my children – they love her food the best. I think that connection of being able to cook for her grandchildren still feels really important, especially as she can’t cuddle them or kiss them. Cooking is incredibly therapeutic for me, too. It really relaxes me and has been a really integral part of lockdown for me. I’m still no baker though.

How has the way you’ve been buying and sourcing food changed?

I’ve really taken on trying to support local businesses – the produce you get is incredible. I definitely know what’s in my fridge now. Things aren’t getting wasted at all, which I’m really proud of – I’ve always been pretty bad at that, with a sad bag of salad at the back every day. Now it’s really made me utilise everything as much as possible.

Are you having virtual dinner parties outside of  recording Table Manners?

I’m constantly chowing down food while being the quiz master, which is very annoying for people. I’m eating so early with my kids. I’ve just finished recording an episode of the podcast – I’m having my lunch at 11am then my dinner 4.35pm, and my mum is finding it so infuriating. But I love it, because at least later I can have wines with my friends. Even if you’re eating or drinking with them over Google Duo or whatever, you’re connecting by chatting.

Table Manners podcast with Jessie Ware.
Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie are the hosts of Table Manners.

What’s been your most trusted go-to lockdown meal?

I’ve baked many a banana bread. But I really adore Melissa Hemsley’s tahini nut [cookies]. I feel like she’s been my lockdown chef. Everything she cooks on her Instagram feed has been so uplifting – healthy, delicious, nutritious food that I want to eat. So tonight I’ll be doing her mozzarella and courgette ribbons with chilli.

You continue to have amazing guests on Table Manners, but who have you been the most nervous to meet far?

I was really nervous about John Legend and I kind of wish we’d been able to do it in the flesh. It was of course an incredible opportunity to be able to speak to him in lockdown, but I think I got quite starstruck because I’ve been such a fan of his. He was so charming and sweet and I let myself down slightly, I was so starstruck! Also, Anthony from Queer Eye was like a Disney prince arriving on my doorstep. I just swooned quite a lot. 

For more information on Nest Sessions and how to tune in, please visit the Google store.

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Images: Table Manners

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…