It all began with a ham sandwich. And a cup of builders tea, slurped hot from the flask. Plain, humble, delicious. England, fair England in a mouthful: pig in stodge with our ubiquitous beverage: tea. The revelatory bite was surreptitiously stolen from Mr.Gilbury, the gardener, whose lunch box had been fatally left within the reach of my infantile self. Bread that could have cushioned my childish head, cut thick and uneven, the savoury chew of freshly-baked crust mingling with the sweet-saltiness of home-cooked ham, the nutty sweetness of a thick slick of butter pushing against the back of your teeth….washed down with the hot tang of strong tea .Ah yes, even a rustic ham sandwich can be the stuff of poetry. Since then my entire memory has functioned on a solely digestive level; I’ll remember events in my life only by the association of what i ate during before or after them. Food is about memory more than anything else, it conjures up an atmosphere, a sort of inherent lifestyle, and if you can successfully create the sort of food you want to be eating, you might even believe you’re leading the life you want to live.
Good food is also about responsibility, for me anyway. I think of meat as a treat; that way I feel justified in spending 8 quid on a free-range chicken, knowing I’ll enjoy it all the more for all those happy chicken moments it was allowed to live in the great wide world. Vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy produce-these are all beautiful ingredients in their own rights.
I shan’t bore you too much with sermonising, and I would in no way claim to be a green crusader; I too find recycling a hassle, I too am often tempted by the giant bargain chickens, I too grumble at the way you have to pay more for organic vegetable just to spend an extra hour cleaning all the sodding wholesome organic country filth off them. For me, it’s a question of balance; eat less meat-spend more when you do buy it, eat more veg-but try and grow some yourself and buy local,seasonal and in small quantities.This way it should be cheaper and more ethical.
So that’s the ethics, now for the philosophy. The food I love, and the food I cook is about clever simplicity, nothing too fancy. Mostly European influenced, though I love all things Indian/Sri Lankan. Baking is my obsession but the area is which I have the most to learn.
As for my culinary heritage, I trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, undertaking the diploma course, basically all things French and fancy. I followed this with stints of work experience at Chez Bruce, Bibendum , The Modern Pantry and St. John and then worked at The Dock Kitchen for six months before quitting to spend the summer cooking at markets and festivals around England. Now I am back at university, cooking in my rudimentary student kitchen, and working for extra cash in the student café, where I find almost all of my culinary ideals ruthlessly undermined on a daily basis-but it’s bloody good fun.