1 Aubergine, Munich
2 Chez Panisse, San Francisco
3 La Riviäre, Monte Carlo
4 Stephanie's, Sydney
5 Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon (when Shaun Hill was cooking)
KILLE Enna is proof that appearances can be deceptive. One look at this slight, elfin 21-year-old Dane and you might believe she would be hard-pressed to butter toast for herself.
In fact she is one of the youngest head chefs in the business, probably the youngest female head chef working in Britain today, and one of the players responsible for the success of Café dell'Ugo, Antony Worrall Thompson's latest restaurant,situated in the less-than-promising neighbourhood of London Bridge.
Enna's approach to life and to her work gives new meaning to enthusiastic. She speaks about food with genuine passion and describes recipes as though they were her best friends. (And with little time to socialise this analogy may be painfully close to the truth.)
She has so much energy that were she not to work a 17-hour day, six days a week, there might be a danger of internal combustion.
She is in no doubt that torturing herself at a young age with such pressure is the right thing. "This is what I always wanted to do," she vows from behind a glass of mineral water, late in the afternoon, during her only break from the kitchen. "The pressure does kill you slowly, though," she adds philosophically.
"We have a lot of fun in the kitchen and laugh a lot. But I'm a perfectionist and very proud of what I do. I want my food to look wonderful but also to appear as though it didn't take any trouble."
The brigade of six that have so much fun with Enna were each handpicked after this perfectionist sacked all the kitchen staff she inherited on her appointment. There is metal beneath her soft exterior.
Enna grew up in Sonderborg, Denmark, near the border with Germany and entered the kitchen of Jonna Hald's "De 4 Arstiderne" restaurant in Aarhus, Jutland, after leaving school at 16. Hald, one of Denmark's foremost chefs, accorded Enna freedom and privilege almost immediately: "She allowed me to do anything and would buy any ingredient I wanted so that I could experiment.
"At 17 I was teaching her cookery class. I think I surprised a few of the rich housewives who attended. I stayed with Jonna three- and-a-half years which is a lot because I'm impatient."
Departure from Denmark for top Irish restaurant, Ballymaloe, Shanagarry, Co Cork, was inspired by a desire to begin to see the world rather than an urge to cook there. Then Enna landed a place at Downstairs at One Ninety in September last year but left by Christmas, uncertain of where to go next.
She soon experienced the "young girl in new town syndrome". "I wanted to move on, but found that no one would have me. I didn't think it would be easy but I was rejected everywhere. I triedAlastair Little and Bistrot Bruno among others - but no."
Worrall Thompson came to the rescue with the offer of head chef at his new Café dell'Ugo. At first Enna balked at the prospect of so much responsibility, but Worrall Thompson cleverly suggested she help only for a couple of weeks which led, inevitably, to acceptance of the job.
With an enviable position and a wide brief, in what direction is she heading? "My overriding interest at the moment is Moroccan food. It's fantastic. I'm hoping to go to Morocco later this year.
"Alex, one of my sous chefs, has taught me to cook a marvellous cous-cous and my favourite dish at the moment is the tagine of lamb with raisins, almonds and sweet tomatoes, which is currently on the menu. I love food which has been marinated and I love spices. Worrall Thompson has bought me a mini-grinder so I can grind whole spices fresh, at the very last minute, as we prepare a dish."
Fish is another item which sends Enna into ecstasy, although this may simply be because she is Danish. Herring, mackerel, John Dory and tuna are her top four, and these are invariably cooked to the point where the centre remains raw - Danish style.
The style of food that she likes and prepares best is the rustic, no-nonsense, full-flavour variety. And of course this is what her mentor, Worrall Thompson, also targets.
She is aware of the danger of experimenting merely for the sake of it and is fully consciousthat it may be many more years before she truly comes into her own. "I don't like girly dishes," vouches this female chef. "There's a lot of fashion in food. I'm against trends. But it's extremely difficult to develop your own style naturally. There are no rules anymore. So you can go somewhere good or just in a circle."
Since swapping her digs above dell'Ugo in Soho for a bedsit in South Kensington, life beyond the kitchen has amounted to much the same: no boyfriend, the occasional visit to the cinema, Sundays spent searching for new recipes and out of town weekend visits to Worrall Thompson's house in Henley.
"It's exciting being in London but things move too fast here," says Enna. "I miss having a home although I don't miss Denmark. I think about food all the time anyway."
We may have to move fast to catch Enna cooking in London because the risk of her departure is once again imminent. "I need to see the world!" n
As Caterer went to press, we heard that Enna had already packed her bags and was about to head east.