TV Judge, Private Chef & Food Writer Philippa Davis answers the Random 19 questions


Philippa Davis is private chef and food writer. She works all around the world cooking for a range of international clients including celebrities, royalty and entrepreneurs.  

She grew up on her family’s smallholding in north Dorset where they reared their own meat, grew their own fruit and veg and even had a go at wine making

Chef Philippa Davis | Image: Hugh MacNish Porter

At 18 with a desire to pursue a chef career she moved to London and worked at Lidgates the butchers, the Michelin starred The River Café and Moro restaurants before setting up and running the Mudchute Kitchen in London’s Docklands.

In 2011, keen to explore more of the world’s food cultures and flavours, she became a private chef. Since then she has cooked all around the world for an exciting range of clients. Philippa also writes for BBCfood, The Deepest Book series, The Field magazine, Dorset Magazine and House & Garden. She also helped set up Liberty Kitchen, a BBC Food and Farming award winning street food project based in Pentonville prison that aims to help reduce reoffending rates. 

The Random 19

1. What’s your relationship with the Blackmore Vale (the area, not us!)? 

I’m always excited to see the Blackmore Vale as it means I’m home!

As a private chef I travel abroad a lot but my family has lived here for over 35 years so when not working, like a homing pigeon, I always return.

2. What was the last song you sang out loud in your car? 

I don’t do that much travelling in cars, its mostly trains, planes or walking.  However, I absolutely love singing and listen to a lot of music from pretty much any genre.

Currently I’m taking the train fairly regularly between Dorset and London, the two-hour trip is a perfect amount of time for me to do some writing.  I usually pop my earphones in and get totally absorbed in the music, tapping away on my laptop. As the trains are pretty quiet at the moment I may have once or twice caught myself bursting out into song. 

I’ll have to check with the conductor but I think my last performance in the carriage was “Coffee, black” from BIG the musical which is all about getting lots of stuff done, but needing caffeine first, which I can relate to.

 3. Last movie you watched? Would you recommend it? 

I’m going through a food and environmental documentary phase at the moment. I have worked my way through Seaspiracy, Cowspiracy, and Game Changers.  

I only recommend you watch these if you are prepared to do more research around the subjects for a more balanced view.  

Like many involved in the food industry I don’t find them particularly helpful in moving the debate forward. Such a shame as they tackle incredibly important subjects we all need to address.

4. It’s Friday night – you have the house to yourself, and no work is allowed. What are you going to do?

Friday night? House to yourself? Not working?? 

What’s this I’ve been missing out on??? 

As a chef weekends are usually spent working. However if ever such an event was likely to occur I would instantly notice the house felt a bit quiet so invite people round and cook for them. I love it.

5. If you were sent to an island for a year and could only bring three things, what would you bring (the island is already equipped with a magical power source, a phone and a laptop)?

My bed – complete with its pillows, duvets and linen. Quality sleep is so important.

The complete works of Agatha Christie.

My Tom Regula, Bespoke Rods and Blades chef’s knife.  

Tom is an incredible bladesmith based near Blandford and each of his creations are unique.  

My knife brings me such joy when I use it and I assume I will still need to cook on this island, so I might as well have the best tools for the job.

6. What would you like to tell 15yr old you?

Buy Amazon shares.

7. Most embarrassing moment of your teen years?

There are many moments I’m sure but I try not to dwell on those bits too much as I don’t think its healthy and it isn’t usually helpful. We all have our moments but it’s how we pick ourselves up that counts.

8. Who’s your celebrity crush?

I actually get to meet a fair few celebrities through my private chef work but luckily I’ve never been the sort to get star struck so am rarely phased.  

That said, I do have a writer’s crush on food critic Jay Rayner and would jump at the chance to have dinner with him.  

9. What book did you read last year that stayed with you?

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – I have actually only read the first few pages as haven’t made time yet to read the rest so it’s literally ‘stayed with me’ as I’ve carried it round for about the last two years whilst travelling. It better be good…

10. What was the last gift you gave someone – or you were given. Your choice.

I love buying little gifts for people. They are usually food or drink from places I’ve visited and are usually accompanied with a story about the product or producer. 

Having just finished doing my research for our new book ‘Deepest Somerset’ which explores the arts, history, culture, people, places and of course food of the county, recently prezzies have mostly been cheese or cider related.

11. What shop can you not pass without going in?

I don’t have much patience for most types of leisure shopping (except food) so I’m very happy walking by and just admiring window displays. When in Shaftesbury however my pug Tilly demands I go into Abbott’s the green grocers as they always make a fuss of her and give her a dog biscuit.

12.  Favourite quote? Movie, book or inspirational – we won’t judge.

“One cannot think well, sleep well or love well if one has not dined well.” By Virginia Wolf.

This is so true. Eating well is so important for our physical and mental health.  It doesn’t have to be fancy – just nutritious, well balanced and ideally often shared with others. 

13. Write the review for the last thing you cooked (no cheating – the actual last thing!).

“Clearly the work of a truly competent chef. The biscuity aroma was rich and inviting and I was impressed by the crunchiness of the outside texture that contrasted well with the softer, chewier middle. With a delightful slight sweetness at first the flavor developed beautifully with some toasted nuttiness, a pleasant hint of sourness and touch of malt. Truly, toast doesn’t get better than this.” 

14. A penguin just walked in the door wearing a panama hat. Why is he here?

That’s strange, I asked him to wear his bowler.

15 Your top three most-visited favourite websites (excluding social media!)?

Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group, for anyone interested or wants to know more about rural land management I highly recommend this site which is run by a group of game keepers’ wives.  It does a brilliant job of connecting and educating people with why and what goes into maintaining their incredible landscape. 

BBC News – I try and read a mix of sources but mostly BBC, FT and New York Times.

Local news or events sites wherever I am in the world. I have total FOMO especially when it comes to food so I try and do lots of research and keep updated on what’s going on around me. Right now it’s ‘The Infatuation London’, a regularly updated website about London’s food scene.

16 What in life is frankly a mystery to you?

A sense of direction. Which is unfortunate as I spend a lot of time travelling to new places. But on the plus side, getting lost often makes for a good adventure.

Whole roasted cauliflower cheese with garlic butter crispy breadcrumbs

17 Chip Shop Chips or Homebaked Cake?

Home baked cake, probably my cinnamon, coffee and cardamom one or a sticky ginger cake.

18 Favourite crisp flavour?

Torres black truffle.  They are outrageously expensive which is actually good as I don’t buy them often but when I do I make sure they last. 

19 The best biscuit?

Anything baked by Lizzie.

During lockdown we formed a bubble with an old school friend of mine who lives nearby.  She is a brilliant cook and would always bring round a tin of freshly baked biccies. Caramelised pecan cookies, macrons, rich butter shortbreads, tahini bites …we ended up calling it Pavlov’s tin. 

To see more of Philippa’s work, please her website To keep up to date with Philippa’s culinary adventures do follow her on instagram @philippadavis_food.
Philippa has also just made her TV debut as a judge on Channel 4’s Beat the Chef.  You can catch her at 5:30 pm weekdays from 4th May for six weeks, she appears in half the episodes.


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