I’m really passionate about food, I love tracking down rare ingredients and mastering complex recipes. I’m very grateful to the hordes of friends and colleagues who cheerfully demolish my successes and failures! I adore cookbooks and happily spend all weekend reading them cover to cover. I have so many i’ve lost count!
Several people have asked me why i’m so passionate about food – here’s my attempt to explain why:
Because it’s like nothing else. It has an enormous range. It touches everyone, we all need to eat, and everyone needs to cook to some degree. It crosses borders and cultures – cooking is a compassionate act, you’re providing sustenance to someone, investing time and money to give them joy and fulfillment. It ranges in complexity from making a cup of coffee to molecular gastronomy, from greasy spoon to three michelin stars. From San Francisco, to New York, from London to Copenhagen, from Rome to Istanbul, from Cape Town to Chengdu there are stunning restaurants and amazing experiences.
Food is a combination of things: the chef, the techniques, the ingredients, the experience.
I love food for the following reasons:
Everyone cooks, there are few skills that everyone can do, and this is one of them. It’s like singing or walking or telling a joke/story, it’s an innate human thing. And it’s something that varies massively in skill, from those who can’t help but burn toast, to the home cooks who create masterpieces in a tiny kitchen with one hob. Talent plays a part, but it’s one of the few skills that you can improve easily, read books, visit markets, go to restaurants, work at it and you will be rewarded. You can so easily imitate the best in the world. Having never cooked char sui bao, I knocked out a reasonable copy of Momofuku’s in an afternoon. Imagine if you could do the same with painting, or singing or sport!
There are a huge number of ways of cooking, from steaming to sous vide, from poaching to pan frying, curing to casseroling. The techniques give you so much variety – take a simple ingredient, like beef. You could coat it in crumbs and deep fry it, you could sear it in a pan, grill it on a barbecue, sous vide it, roast it in an oven or pickle it with a salt cure.
The range of ingredients available to the modern chef is greater than at any time in history. Produce is flown around the world and available all year round. The array of flavours is dizzying, from sweet mangoes to bitter citrus, tart juniper berries to earthy mushrooms. Cooking is about combining these flavours, taking advantage of the texture and using different techniques to manipulate the temperature.
Whether you’re cooking a simple evening meal or catering for a large, multi-course dinner party; cooking generally involves other people. Seeing the look of delight on people’s faces as they bite into your chocolate ice cream is priceless. But the wider environment also plays a role. Compare eating a barbecue on a beach as the sun goes down with some friends and some ice cold beer. Then shift that to a formal business dinner… it doesn’t quite fit, that burnt chicken and flavourless beer won’t taste anywhere near as nice. Where you eat and the people you eat it with matter.
So in conclusion? Get out there and cook! The Internet has democratised cooking in a way that never existed before. Within minutes of a new dish being put on the menu it will be blogged and dissected online. YouTube has given the home chef instant access to a hundred detailed videos of obscure techniques and the number of recipes, suppliers and reviews online is just staggering. Find out how deep the rabbit hole goes. You’ll be spherifying kirsch with calcium alginate and tracking down dry ice before you know it.