Read All About It: Our Mentors’ Favourite Cookbooks

Like many of you, our mentors are avid collectors of cookbooks. But which are the books from their extensive libraries that they turn to again and again for inspiration and favourite recipes? They couldn’t limit themselves to one…

Read All About It: Our Mentors’ Favourite Cookbooks

Belinda Spinney, Senior Mentor

“It’s an old one but one of my favourite books is Entertaining with Katie Stewart which is now out of print [you can find second-hand copies online]. It came out when I started private cheffing. Cookery books hadn’t been doing menus but she did. That’s the key. She broke it down into brunches, lunch parties, teas, suppers…at that point nobody was really doing that. There’s a recipe in it that I still recommend: a chocolate cheesecake, ideal for buffets. It is just fantastic; it works as individual cheesecakes or as one big one. I still look at the book often – my copy’s a mess!”

“I use Sally Clarke’s Book as well. It’s very similar. I like her ingredients choice – she’s influenced by Alice Waters [of Chez Panisse in San Francisco] – and I like the way she balances her flavours. It was quite innovative of the time, really thinking about the seasons and breaking it up into seasons.”

The Sportsman by Stephen Harris is really good. Again, there’s a focus on seasonality – I’m seeing a theme here! I spend a lot of time in Kent so I’m pulled to that and the producers he uses. It very much goes into his restaurant and the people working there. It’s more of a readable book.”

I refer to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking for research always. Then, one I’m using a lot at the moment is an ayurvedic cookery book, What To Eat For How You Are Feeling: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen by Divya Alter. It’s such a different way of eating. It’s quite a difficult way of eating in this country but I’ve been to India recently and I’m doing quite a lot of cooking from it at the moment.”

Ali Young, Community and Mentor Manager

“Obviously Leiths’ How To Cook is one of my most used cookbooks. One of the ones I use that I still go back to is Anjum Anand’s New Indian. It’s quite old now. There are about four or five recipes in there that I go back to again and again but it’s all good. I still can’t remember the recipe for her chicken biryani; there are so many spices in it!

I discovered Claire Thomson (@5oclockapron on Instagram) in lockdown because she was cooking with her children and I was cooking with mine. Her recipes are great; they always work. So her Home Cookery Year is one I get out quite often when I need family meal inspiration.”

Martha Money, Mentor

“My most used cookbooks are probably all the Ottolenghi books like Flavour and Simple. I do like the old Donna Hay books and RecipeTin Eats for simple weeknight cooking. I love to use the papers like the New York Times, Guardian, and Times for inspiration. Also, Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen and Justine Doiron of Justine Snacks are wonderful content creators and their food is beautiful.”

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