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Chef Bonny Porter grew up in Sydney and gained valuable experience working at Manly Wine by Gazebo restaurant in the city before completing a three-year apprenticeship under renowned Aussie chef Neil Perry at Rockpool Bar & Grill. In 2012, at the age of 23, she was the youngest ever finalist on TV show Masterchef Australia: The Professionals, and was encouraged by super chef Marco Pierre White to spread her culinary wings in the UK, after meeting him during filming. Bonny moved to London in 2013, where she worked in the kitchen at the Arts Club in Mayfair and Village East in Bermondsey.

She’s since opened her first solo restaurant, Balls & Company, on Greek Street in Soho in July 2015. Balls & Company is Soho’s first gourmet meatball restaurant, and has recently launched speakeasy-style basement bar, Company Below, serving late night cocktails to a discerning London crowd. We met up with Bonny to ask her about the current meatball trend in London and how the Aussie restaurant differs from the UK…

First of all, why meatballs? And why London?

America and Australia are doing the dish really well and I saw a gap in the market in the UK. The difference is that meatballs are a real dude food in America and Australia, as they’re serving meatballs with a sort of humour. I wanted to do something different. Meatballs with no puns, simple, with a bit of class. I love London and I love its buzz and so if I was going to open a gourmet meatball restaurant anywhere in the UK it would have to be London!

Do you see meatballs emerging as the next big food trend over here?

Well they have been very popular so far! We have had queues out the door, which is a great start. I think people wanted meatballs but maybe not in their normal setting, somewhere where you can enjoy something simple and delicious, in a relaxed restaurant space.

Most people in the UK have been eating their meatballs with spaghetti, have we been doing it wrong?

No! Not at all, meatballs and spaghetti is a classic combination and at Balls & Company we offer spaghetti as one of our sides, but we like to make the meatballs the main event and offer different combinations for all tastes. We are not an Italian restaurant after all. 

Your menu is created so that guests can tailor their meals to suit them by selecting the meatballs and then the sauce, do you think this is an emerging food trend - in the same way that people are now obsessed with tailoring their coffee order?

Yes, I believe it’s what people want. There is so much good food on offer now, with such a large range, people can afford to be picky. Think of burritos – you choose your sauces and extras to make it your own style. Everyone is different, so why not cater for that with all food.

What was the MasterChef Australia experience like - did you have a favourite judge?

I wasn’t used to being on TV at all and didn’t really want to hog the limelight. I love running Balls & Company because I can be more behind the scenes and let the company and my cooking do the talking.

You're one of the youngest contestants the show has ever seen, were you ever worried that your age would hold you back?

It was a bit daunting at first but once I got into the swing of things I forgot about my age and I think other people did too!

What are your plans for the future? Any projects coming up? Will you open Balls & Company in Australia?

I’m loving my restaurant in Soho at the moment and I’m concentrating on keeping the quality good here. We’ve made some great connections with our amazing food suppliers and neighbours here in Soho. We have recently opened our bar downstairs, Company Below, which is proving very popular and you never know what’s round the corner later this year, you will just have to watch this space….




Interview with Chef Bonny Porter
Digital Mag

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