At home with Anna Barnett 

At home with Anna Barnett 

Cook, food writer and host of The Filling podcast, Anna Barnett’s career has seen her share a meal, and a conversation or two, with inspiring foodies such as Angela Hartnett and Melissa Hemsley. Having had great success hosting supper clubs, today Anna balances her food career with raising a young family and finding moments of calm. As we shoot our new Kew outdoor furniture collection in her recently planted London garden, Anna shares her passions for simple, tasty food and how she creates a welcoming home for friends and family.

Tell us a little about your house and what drew you to it? 

Our house is in a wonderful little pocket of East London, surrounded by gorgeous old Georgian buildings. What sold it to us was its natural light. When we moved in, we just sat with it for a while to observe where the light moves through the day and the seasons. The kitchen was originally on the lower level, but we always knew we wanted to bring that up to the ground floor to make the most of the natural light for cooking and shooting content. My interior style is very calm and minimalist, but still with a homely, welcoming feeling. By using natural textures of marble, wood and various neutral plaster paints throughout the house it feels timeless and is enough of a blank canvas that I can evolve the space over time. I chose marble for the kitchen as it’s naturally a very cool surface, great for rolling out pastry when baking, but stains easily  over time from all the chopping of tomatoes and lemons or just anything acidic. I think that's part of the charm of a lived-in home. I’m not too precious – I want family and friends to feel they can relax when they’re here, not worry about cup rings or spills.  

And how about your garden?   


We wanted the garden to feel like a calm extension to the house. We inherited this huge olive tree that makes the perfect backdrop to the garden. This also really set the tone for the space alongside an old, gnarly rosebush – I love it, it’s totally wild and takes up half of one side of the garden wall. We chose a light tumbled dijon limestone for the patio tiles, influenced by our time spent on holiday in Greece and Italy, and it’s now a beautiful space that feels like a Mediterranean retreat when the sun shines. 

We live close by to Columbia Road flower market, so we’ve enjoyed weekend trips to discover the variety of plants on offer – planting my first white peonies, hellebore, jasmine and lavender has been a lesson in patience that’ll (hopefully!) pay off with time. We've also turfed over a section of the garden, and when the weather improves, it’ll be nice for the boys to have a space to play together outside. The twins are also the reason we chose the Kew coffee table with the relaxed sofa – the table is the perfect height to pull up their little chairs and enjoy an afternoon snack together in the sun.

How do you carve out time for yourself at home? What are your little moments of joy?  

As both my husband and I work from home a top priority is having separate workspaces. For me it’s a space where I can tuck myself away for a little while and then, at the end of the day, close my work off from home life. Eating dinner together has always been a ritual for us and I’m grateful to share this simple pleasure with the boys now, too. When I get the chance, I cherish a morning coffee out in the garden. There’s this little patch that catches the sun first thing, so I often take a chair over to that corner and enjoy a real moment of peace. I'm always dreaming of having a quiet, lazy day in the garden with the papers – I just don’t know if that will ever happen!    

Your love of food has always been a constant, what does it mean to you? 

Food is such a leveler. I love to bring people togetherit was one of my favourite things about hosting supper clubs. I find talking to people about their love of food, their life and creativity on the podcast evokes such an exciting and infectious conversation. It creates a whole community. On Friday nights we’ll often get together with friends at each other’s houses, find new recipes and have a little cook up. It’s very relaxed and I don’t feel that I have to dress up the table specifically. It’s more casual and we share and graze throughout the evening. I’m thinking of adding a pizza oven to the garden for hosting pizza parties as my little worktop pizza oven has definitely been over-worked. My birthday is in the summer, so now we have the garden sorted I’ll definitely throw a party and invite family and friends to celebrate.  

And has your approach to food changed? Is there a topic you notice come up a lot in your conversations?  

These days there's such an emphasis on the quality of produce. If you've got gorgeous, juicy tomatoes and a lovely focaccia, or you've baked a sourdough and you're sharing that with a French salted butter or Italian olive oil, I think all of those things show an appreciation for the simple pleasures in life and it’s always special to share these. It's all about abundance, simplicity and quality. I enjoy making really vibrant Mediterranean cuisine – cooking fish on the BBQ, mixing paellas in a huge paella dish directly over coals, letting it sit and simmer. When you use incredible produce, you can really make such tasty salads too. All using very simple recipes. I grow my own herbs for cooking and I’d love to try growing my own veggies, but I guess it’s just something else to look after at the moment, so it will be on the back burner until we’ve really nailed keeping the twins alive! For now, I’ll stick to herbs.  

What’s your hero ingredient that you reach for with every meal 

Sumac I put in everything. Also, I've got dried bunches of oregano which I feel is an underrated dried herb, as soon as you rub it in your hands it releases the most fragrant oils. It’s amazing with fresh ripe tomatoes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Delicious. My husband is obsessed with tahini, so that goes on everything. Oh and I've always got a big jar of preserved lemons because that is a great way to add flavour or create a really delicious dressing.  

Time for a little this or that!

Espresso or Latte?  
Flat white.
Brunch or lunch?
Can I say both? Umm brunch! 
Wine or cocktail?
Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction, no non-fiction, non-fiction documentaires. 
Party host or party guest?
Party host. Definitely. 
Planting or pruning? 
Planting right now.
Stargazing or sunbathing? 
Trifle or Strawberry Pavlova?  
Hurricane lanterns or fairy lights? 
Fairy lights.
Winter sunrise or summer sunset? 
Summer sunset.


Anna’s Podcast The Filling is returning for season three this May. Head over to @annabarnettcooks for all things food, style and interiors.
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