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Ruthie Rogers with Steve McQueen

Instagram / ruthierogers

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One charming feature of the format is that each guest reads aloud from a River Cafe recipe of their choice (the dulcet tones of Jake Gyllenhaal make the restaurant’s slow-cooked tomato sauce sound all the more enticing). Otherwise, however, the brief is a relaxed one, with Ruthie and her companions engaging in a wide-ranging conversation on the role food has played in their lives, from early childhood memories to their favourite things to eat – and cook – today.

Ruthie counts many of The River Cafe’s visitors not just as patrons, but personal friends. A number of its devotees have been frequenting the restaurant since its earliest days (founded by Ruthie and the late Rose Gray in 1987), so there’s a true sense of family among The River Cafe community. It’s this air of easy familiarity – so rare in celebrity interviews today, an age of hovering PRs and no-go areas – that shines through in the new podcast. There’s something vulnerable and disarmed in the manner of Ruthie’s guests; due in part to how comfortable they are with their host, but also the inherent relatability of the subject matter. Food is one of life’s few universals: even A-listers have to eat.

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Highlights so far include Gyllenhaal’s recollections of working in restaurants before his acting career took off; McCartney’s memories of his initial scepticism towards wine (it was a visit to Paris with John Lennon that finally changed his mind); the revelation that Ruthie and Fukunaga regularly share home-cooked Sunday lunches; and the role food plays in McQueen’s work, such as in the Mangrove episode of his acclaimed series, Small Axe.

Find all the available episodes and subscribe on Apple Podcasts now. Visit Shop The River Cafe to buy prepared dishes, ingredients and even exclusive homewares, all carefully curated by the restaurant team.

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