Words by Melissa Taylor.
The Great British Cookbook is a cookbook created to raise money for two charities – Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospitality Action. It includes 10 sections for 10 different regions within the UK including Northern Ireland. Including 200 recipes each shown with mouth-watering pictures of the creations and biographies of the chefs who have created them. The chefs include some well-known faces as well as some local restaurants using local produce. During this blog, some of the chefs from these 10 different regions will be explored.
The cookbook begins with the London and South region. London as a city has many restaurants which are both well-known and impressive. This book features some of these restaurants, including some celebrity chefs that you may recognise.
Levi roots is just one of the well-known names in the book, he is best known for his Reggae Reggae sauce, which gained investment when he appeared on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. Although he is well known for his sauce, he is also a great cook having 6 cookbooks to his name all specialising in Caribbean flavours. For the Great British Cookbook, he has used his Caribbean flare to create a flavoursome dish – lime marmalade, rum and chilli poussins.
As well as Levi roots there is also another acclaimed British chef who has provided a great recipe for the book – Tom Aikens. Tom became the youngest British chef ever to be awarded two Michelin Stars. He has written three cookbooks, and featured on the Great British Menu on BBC2 in aid of comic relief. The recipe featured is - seven hour-braised shoulder of lamb, showing potentially an alternative for a Sunday dinner.
The sponsors of the Cookbook – Le Cordon Bleu are also featured in this section. Le Cordon Bleu is the leading culinary arts, wine and management school in Great Britain. With 35 schools in 20 countries, welcoming over 20,000 students of more than 100 different nationalities. It has a team of dedicated master chefs some with Michelin stars all sharing their expertise. The recipe featured in the book is a fruit macaroon crown, the picture portraying an intricately perfect piece of sweetness.
The South west is the next region being featured, with the big name in this section being Michael Caines. One of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs - awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry. He is currently the Executive Chef at Gidleigh Park, the acclaimed and prestigious country house hotel. He produces some breath taking dishes, and the one featured in the cookbook isn’t an exception… you will have wait and see it for yourself.
Being a sweet toothed person, one of the desserts featured in this section caught my eye. Chocolate is my weakness… so chocolate popcorn brownie couldn’t sound any better. This recipe comes from Shaun Rankin at the Ormer restaurant in Jersey. Shaun is a Michelin Starred published chef who has also featured on TV. The image of the dessert alone is enough for any sweet tooth to want to buy the book to see what other sweet delights are featured.
The next section – The South East. If you love seafood, then the South East section is the one for you. With many coastal restaurants providing recipes that you will just have to try. This section also features some vegetarian recipes, as a lover of vegetarian food the first recipe featured in the section from Terre A Terre immediately got me interested. Terre A Terre was founded by Amanda Powley and Philip Taylor before vegetarian food became more fashionable. The recipe featured is created by head chef Matt Bowling. He creates many ingenious vegetarian products, being a firm believer that there are no limits to what can be created from vegetables, roots, fungi’s, seeds, herbs, flowers, fruit and nuts.
The next section explores Wales. I’m not the biggest fish eater, but the recipe that caught my eye in this section comes from the restaurant Coast in Saundersfoot. The picture displayed is one of a delicious looking lobster. The recipe is Caldey Island Lobster and sounds very indulgent. The chef Will Holland earned a Michelin star before the age of 30, and has appeared on television programmes such as James Martin’s Saturday Kitchen and the Hairy Biker’s “Food Tour of Britain”. He opened Coast in 2014 to use his own expertise to create some amazing dishes using the best produce available.
Central England includes some amazing restaurants. One of these restaurants is Simpsons based in Birmingham. Luke Tipping the chef director has held a Michelin Star at the restaurant for 15 years. He describes his style as seasonal and free flowing. Even though Luke didn’t intend to become a chef, actively avoiding it due to the lifestyle his father had due to the career, Luke has become one of the best chefs in the region. As I was looking through this region in the cookbook I came across a picture which I find amazing. It is essentially a tree, the recipe is called Autumn Apples. It comes from Nick Claxton-Webb who works in the Henry Tudor House at Congham Hall Hotel. He uses the renowned garden there to create his masterpieces, and the picture proves that they really are works of art.
The East Midlands begins with a recipe from MemSaab a restaurant in Nottingham, serving traditional Indian food not the standard curries. It prides itself on being a fine dining restaurant. The observer food monthly awards have named MemSaab as best restaurant runner up in 2001, 2013 and 2014. They have traditional recipes on offer as well as alternative ones for example some featuring ostrich meat.
Leicester is a very culturally diverse city. Lilu is a restaurant in Leicester which is aiming to bring both the best of British and Indian food to Leicester. It is an Indian fine dining restaurant with a British Indian fusion menu. Created by the chef Amardeep Singh Anand who won the coveted Asian chef of the year in 2012. The recipe featured is called Hiran Ki Kadhi which includes a venison filet, vine tomatoes and shallots. It doesn’t sound like your traditional Indian recipe; this is what makes this restaurant sound so interesting.
In the North East region, there is a picture of an exquisite looking cheese plate. It is created at Café Royal in the heart of Newcastle, and is described as a stylish café bistro. The picture shows how intricate and unique the food available is. The recipe called elements of gazpacho, describes that there are different elements to the dish which allows for an individual appearance.
The Star inn, Harome Yorkshire is also featured. It is owned by Andrew Perm, who has had a Michelin star there for 13 years, many industry professionals state the Star Inn as one of the top restaurants north of London. It serves food all day from breakfast to dinner including afternoon teas. The recipe makes your mouth water with just the image of eating it. With delicious sounding flavours.
The North West is home to a lot of fantastic local restaurants and pubs. Luke’s eating house in Chester is run by Luke Thomas who at 18 years old became chef patron of his first restaurant – Luke’s Dining Room. He also ventured into a pop up diner in Mayfair recreating childhood favourites into more up to date dishes. His latest restaurant however is Luke’s eating house opened in 2014, with the recipe featured sounding very tasty.
Scotland is the next section in the book. The Fourth Floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh is run by chef Stuart Muir who has been there since opening in 2002. He was awarded a Michelin star at the age of 22. The Fourth Floor restaurant is award winning. He uses locally sourced produce to create modern dishes. For example, the recipe featured is roast mackerel with ingredients including caramelised melon.
Tom Kitchin is one of Britain’s leading chefs and was born in Edinburgh. He now owns his own restaurant called The Kitchin. It showcases his training under other Michelin starred chefs with great food. He has appeared on many TV shows including BBC’s Saturday kitchen. The recipe in this cookbook is one sounding amazing – strawberry and yoghurt panna cotta.
The final region in the book is Northern Ireland. One of the most unusual looking recipes and images I found in this section was Asian noodle cakes. This comes from Mourne seafood bar. Andy Rea is one of the most prolific and experienced chefs working in Northern Ireland. He has travelled around America and worked with Paul Rankin. This recipe looks amazing and is definitely one to try out.
I have only mentioned a few of the recipes, chefs and restaurants featured in this amazing book and those alone are exquisite so much so that I can’t wait to recreate them myself. It also gives me an insight into the great chefs we have in the UK, and I wish I was able to visit them all so I am able to try the food I have seen on paper. Don’t forget to pick up your own copy of the cookbook on the 3rd of October to see all of the ingenious chefs and restaurants featured, so you too can be inspired to travel the UK and try some of the culinary masterpieces, and maybe even make some for yourself.
Words by Melissa Taylor.