With Brother Marcus
Tas Gaitanos and Alex Large are old school-friends who set up the first Brother Marcus restaurant in 2016. Since then it has been called the ‘Best Brunch in London’ by Time Out and as having ‘Some of the best brunch options in the city’ by Harper’s. They now have outlets of their hip Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in Angel, Spitalfields Market, Borough Yards and South Kensington and are about to release their first cookbook Brunch With Brother Marcus.
Tas is of Cretan and Cypriot heritage and grew up working in his father’s restaurant. He was lured into the family trade by his love of the flavours of the Eastern Med. Alex is a trained actor so finds running front of house and developing the notorious Brother Marcus cocktail list a natural home. Both have travelled extensively in the Eastern Med and look to it constantly as a source of inspiration. Brunch at Brother Marcus is a weekend institution in London, and in their first cookbook you can find out why.
In the book, Tas and Alex take the flavours of the Eastern Med to make dishes really worth getting out of bed for, from simple favourites such as Menemen – a spicy scrambled eggs made with peppers and tomatoes – to the sublime: think Pulled Lamb Flatbreads or Rosti with Fried Chicken and Eggs.
Brunch with Brother Marcus also features recipes to make your own yoghurt, pickles, salt beef and breads.
As well as a drinks chapter that delivers both smoothies and fortifying cocktails such as the Brother Mary, or the alcohol-free Pomegranate Ginger Beer (sure to put a skip in your step).
And there are sweets too, including traditional Baklavadika and a truly divine Portokalopita, an extraordinary orange filo pastry cake. You won’t want to brunch with anyone else.
We recently caught up with Tas and Alex and asked them a few questions to give us some insight into what they do and what lays behind their love of food and cooking.
1. Was there a cookbook that really inspired you?
Specific brunch books aren’t as easy to come by as you might think so Brunch by Sunday’s was a real inspiration in terms of creating a book just for that one meal and seeing what they included and how they positioned it.
In terms of aesthetics, design and writing style, Palomar and Mazi have been books we’ve always liked and gravitated to.
2. What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?
This was a hard one to answer as we have too many favourites, it depends what cuisine we’re cooking, the mood we’re in and who we are cooking for but we’ve gone for Aleppo chilli.
We use it in so many dishes at Brother Marcus it must subconsciously be our favourite, or maybe just very versatile! Aleppo is a variety of capsicum that is used a lot in Eastern Mediterranean and Turkish cooking. We sprinkle it on lots of dishes including in our fennel tzatziki but also make a delicious Aleppo butter that we use with our king prawns, adding a subtle kick to the dish.
We even use it in cocktails such as the Aleppo Margarita that’s in the book, it’s a very useful spice to have in the kitchen.
3. Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?
If I’m on my own in the kitchen I normally put on whatever I’m currently watching on Netflix, at the moment it is a football documentary, but if my wife and baby are in the room it’s a different scenario altogether and football is definitely not on the cards! Normally we put music on as we listen to different podcasts and audiobooks so music is our mutual ground. Our favourite band is Fleetwood Mac.
4. If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?
I was brought up in Elounda which is a town on the island of Crete. It has a pretty beach right in the town where I spent much of my childhood so I think I’d have to say the beach there.
It’s right across the road from my father’s restaurant where me and my siblings were able to play whilst my parents sat in the restaurant half watching us. I used to catch octopus just off the beach so I’d love to cook octopus, or local seafood, on an open fire on the Elounda beach.
5. If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?
Don’t stop exploring, there are so many amazing cuisines, ingredients and produce so never get stuck in your ways and take the easy option with sticking to things you know. New ingredients and produce are always being discovered which is one of the most exciting parts about being a chef, experimenting with these and coming up with new flavour combinations and recipes is always fun.
Massive thanks to Tas and Alex for taking the time to share their thoughts with us. Their absolutely stunning new cookbook is now available in all good book stores and of course direct from us right HERE.