We’re super excited to have teamed up with legendary EatFirst head chef Benn Hodges on our very first takeaway tasting menu. We caught up with Benn to talk flavour combos, food discovery and the inspiration behind his Valentine’s Day takeaway tasting menu. You can order Benn’s EatFirst Valentine’s Day tasting menu for two at just £35, exclusively on Just Eat until 15 February.

About Benn Hodges

Originally from Australia, Benn moved to London in 2011 – a year after being named ‘Chef of the Year’ by the Australian Hotel Association. The past few years have seen Benn work in some prestigious London restaurants such as The Ivy and Roka, before being appointed Head Chef at takeaway-only restaurant EatFirst in January 2016.

So, what prompted your move from a traditional restaurant setting to food delivery?

I wanted to cook for a bigger audience and do something that had never been done before, the idea of launching an online restaurant brand was really appealing to me.

How important are reviews for you?

We really value reviews at EatFirst. Being an online restaurant in the capital we’re always faced with challenges around delivery, but our drivers work incredibly hard to make sure our meals arrive on time. My team of chefs love seeing positive reviews about our food and it goes without saying that any low ratings we happen to receive always get looked into quickly.

What countries or cuisines inspire you most and do they feature in the Valentine’s Day tasting menu?

For Valentine’s, we focused on the most romantic country in Europe, Italy. It’s a place I love visiting because of the amazing variety of fresh local seasonal ingredients, wines and of course, the beautiful people. One of my chefs, Edoardo, comes from Sardinia. We created a variation on his grandmother’s Ragu, using duck legs from a small farm in Devonshire to create a modern twist on an Italian classic.

How important do you think it is to discover new dishes and try new flavours?

At EatFirst we pride ourselves on the diverse range of international cuisines on our menu. Living in London, we are spoiled by a huge variety of food from all over the world. On my days off, I like to find different flavours by going to Druid Street market for Kimchi and Thai, popping into St John for classic British dishes, then going back to Roka (my old restaurant) to taste their latest Japanese creations.

How do you ensure your meals are delivered at restaurant quality?

In order to ‘lock in the freshness’, all our meals are designed for delivery. We ask our customers to finish off the final part of the cooking by finishing them in the microwave or oven. This may sound like a big ask for a takeaway, but it only takes a couple of minutes and the rewards are worth it – because it’s chilled, we can guarantee a restaurant quality meal experience every time.

Is Valentine’s Day still Valentine’s Day without chocolate?

Everyone needs something sweet in their life on Valentine’s, and chocolates make the perfect gift! Just remember to share them too.

Order Benn’s EatFirst Valentine’s Day tasting menu for two, exclusively on Just Eat until 15 February: