World cuisine in books

Published on BespokeRSVP on 16th July 2012:

As London braces itself for the incoming Olympic crowd, the rest of the world waits in anticipation to see who will win the most medals and in what sport. Our writer, Sarah Kemp, has curated some great recipes and tales about food from around the world on her website “Eat the Olympics”. But if you prefer something more tangible, here are three great cookbooks for global eats.

Dock Kitchen Cookbook by Stevie Parle

You have probably seen Stevie Parle’s words in print in his Telegraph food column but he is also the head chef at Dock Kitchen. The Notting Hill restaurant is a pop-up idea turned permanent site, hosting global cuisine in a home cooked style. Trained at Petersham Nurseries, Moro and The River Café, Parle has also travelled extensively looking for new flavours and recipes. The Dock Kitchen Cookbook is a collection of easy and accessible recipes from the restaurant and from his travels, capturing a taste of the world.

Bought, Borrowed & Stolen by Allegra McEvedy

Allegra McEvedy really needs no introduction in the culinary world having cooked professionally for over 20 years and written prolifically about food for much of that. Bought, Borrowed & Stolen is a collection of recipes, photographs and words based on her travels around the world and the knives which she’s collected along the way. Uniquely in here, you will learn about a country’s cuisine according to the knife that’s indigenous to the region. What better way to approach food than through a chef’s most important tool?

Coco: 10 World-leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs

Coco is definitely a modern classic. Published back in 2010, it promised to reveal 100 up-and-coming chefs from around the world according to 10 “world-leading masters”. And indeed since it’s been published, many of the chefs featured in the book have achieved high accolades and some have made it into the World’s 50 Best list. The book is a beautiful collection of recipes from the restaurants of the contemporary chefs as well as the chef masters themselves. Expect nothing less than Michelin dining if you recreate its content at home.

On food and relationships

Published on The Prodigal Guide on 28th November 2011:

Food writing, it’s a complex game.

For the aspiring, and even established writers, who are desperately trying to charm editors into a commission, it’s not only hard work but also extremely competitive. Equally, though, the food circle is very small and winds tighter and tighter the closer you come to the fore. Everyone seems to know everyone else in this industry and, as a consequence, everyone else’s business too.

I often wondered what one might read on the rags of a Gossip Girl equivalent of this little incestuous crowd. Judging by what one hears on the grapevine, it’s detrimentally scandalous. Thankfully, no such column has been penned. Yet.

Of course that is not to say the subtleties of relationships haven’t escaped into writings here and there. Indeed, on these very pages and elsewhere, Douglas Blyde wrote of our fleeting encounter during the summer months. But like the chilled champagne served during that lukewarm season, the bubbles dissolved as they surfaced and quickly fizzled out. And at the end of it, a teased palate was left unsatisfied – because when two hungry gourmets collided, the explosion was gastronomical.

The intricacies of navigating a post-love battlefield are always delicate, but it’s even more so when all paths in the small space afforded eventually lead to heart-mines. Faced with the omnipresence of these reminders, I got thinking about food and relationships.

While my own recent forays into this connection has been a romantic one, it isn’t the rule across the board. Certainly, it wasn’t why I got into food in the first place – my love of eating did that.

For chefs in particular, the link has been mostly inter-generational and apparently patriarchally skewed. Nigel Slater got into food because he wanted to please his father; Allegra McEvedy started cheffing following the advice of her father; and Simon Hulstone probably wouldn’t have competed in the Bocuse d’Or if it wasn’t for the competitive streak instilled in him by his father, who at one time was also a competition chef.

And there are many chefs with fathers in the industry like Dominic Chapman, Henry Harris and Alain Roux; the list goes on.

Then there’s all the ways that our relationships in food have influenced our cooking style. There’s Cass Titcomb of Canteen who was always brought up on the best of British and that’s filtered through to the menu served across their five venues in London. Or Jun Tanaka of Pearl, a Japanese chef known for his French style, who started by working through all of his father’s top rated restaurants, all of which were French.

And that’s just about chefs. What about academics? Politicians? Artists?

It seems that food and relationships is a subject so fertile that a bare few hundred words would not do it justice. So while the seed of this idea is sown here, I will ruminate over what grows from it in the columns which will faithfully follow.