Five minutes with… Jenny Pagoni

The restaurant director and founder of new eastern Mediterranean restaurant Ampéli talks about her love of Janis Joplin and barbecue

Food and Drink 3 Oct 2020

Jenny Pagoni of Ampéli
A range of dishes from the recently opened Ampéli

Can you introduce us to Ampéli and your vision for the restaurant?

I grew up loving the diversity of the Mediterranean coastline and this is what I have tried to achieve through Ampéli. The exclusively Greek wine list is my personal touch deriving from my heritage and the beautiful history of wine from Greece.

Do you think London has more to learn about eastern Mediterranean cuisine?

 I think there are plenty of fantastic eastern Mediterranean restaurants in London, but there is always something new to learn. 

Ampéli is a new restaurant serving Eastern Mediterranean cuisine
Ampéli is a new restaurant serving Eastern Mediterranean cuisine


What have you learned from the Covid-19 crisis and working through lockdown?

It has been difficult. This is my first restaurant and the Covid-19 setback was a big blow, but through every negative situation, there is always a positive. I think it has helped me focus a lot more on the identity of the restaurant.

Do you have a favourite dish you like to cook for yourself?

I love seafood and barbecue, so whenever I get the chance I’ll do some herb marinated prawns and veggies on the barbeque, with a nice full body white wine, simple and tasty.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work? 

My grandma has been a big influence on my life growing up, her warm hospitality and her excellent cooking skills.

What ingredient can you not live without and why?

I would say good olive oil, I use it extensively and it has a place in everything I am cooking.

Ampéli recently opened in Fitzrovia
Ampéli recently opened in Fitzrovia


Where is your favourite place to eat in London? 

That is a hard question, so many good places. My recent favourite is Sabor – I love the ingredients and the open kitchen and I am a big fan of the cuisine.

And where’s your favourite place in the world to eat?

I don’t have one as such, but I would have to pick a place with good company.

What do you like to do on a day off? 

Play tennis, go out for dinner, or just spend some time with family.

Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?

Photography is a big one for me.

If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would it be and why?

David Attenborough is someone I really want to meet and just talk about nature and Janis Joplin for a jam session after dinner!

Ampéli is now open at 18 Charlotte Street, W1T 2LZ,