Kingdom of Cooks
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of Cooks: Conversations with Britain's New Wave Chefs
by Andy Lynes
In 2014, I dedicated part of the year to travelling the UK
talking to chefs. In truth, that's how I've spent every year
since 2004 when I began my freelance writing career. But last
year was a bit different. Instead of the usual collection
of random jaunts to fulfil a series of unconnected commissions
from various newspaper and magazine clients, I made a plan.
I wanted to write a book.
I drew up a list of a dozen chefs covering as wide a geographical
spread as I could reasonably manage. Each was either in their
first head chef position or the owner of their first restaurant.
The aim was to connect with a new generation of chefs who
had worked for some of the biggest names in the business -
Gordon, Heston, Jamie, Raymond (Blanc) et al - but who were
forging a new style of British cooking quite different from
their mentors. That list included Mary-Ellen McTague (Aumbry,
Manchester), Neil Rankin (The Smokehouse, London)
and Gary Usher (Sticky Walnut, Chester) as well as
double Michelin starred chef Simon Rogan (L'Enclume, Cartmel,
and Fera at Claridges, London) who is included in
the book as a Godfather figure of the new wave of British
Over the last few years, my work as a food, drink and travel
author, journalist and restaurant critic had brought me into
close contact with a worldwide trend, a new culinary nationalism
where chefs were rejecting globalism and rediscovering the
culinary specialities of their immediate locality. I realised
that I probably knew more about the phenomenon as it had manifested
itself in Chicago than I did in Chester, so I made a conscious
decision to try and re-connect with home grown cooks.
Working for the national press, there is always a focus on
attracting the publication's general readership to its food
and drink pages, rather than catering for the committed foodies.
It's a logical and commendable policy, but one that does tend
to rely on the same old names to grab the readers eye. While
it's always a joy to speak to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
or Michel Roux Jr, it does mean that there is less and less
opportunity for new, non-TV names to break through. On a personal
level, it meant that I'd began to lose touch with a younger
generation of chefs.
I was fortunate enough to have indulgent American editors
who trusted my judgement enough to commission the interviews
to be published on the website of the highly acclaimed Food
Arts magazine. The magazine suddenly folded in September last
year which was heartbreaking for everyone involved. It also
meant that only half of the interviews were published in a
shortened article form, but it was enough to fund my trips
and make the self published book feasible without resorting
to some sort of crowd sourcing which seemed a little over
the top for what is essentially quite a simple undertaking.
you're interested in what makes chefs tick, you'll find
this e-book fascinating"
~ Tracey MacLeod
The book is based on a very straightforward idea and has
a simple format. I spoke to each chef for between one and
two hours, going into detail about their careers, their approach
to cooking and the business of running a restaurant. I transcribed
the interviews in full (or had them transcribed, it's a tine
consuming process when you can only type with two fingers)
then spent hours editing them into readable text, extracting
repetitious and broken sentences, removing or re-ordering
tangential asides and creating a narrative.
From that emerged not only the individual stories of the
chefs, but a very vivid picture of what it takes to make it
as a chef at the highest level, the extraordinary work that
goes into a restaurant dish and the sacrifices the chefs make
in dedication to their businesses and their craft. Although
the restaurants are varied - neighbourhood bistros, rural
restaurants with rooms, country house fine dining and smart
city centre joints - many similarities in techniques, ethos
and type of ingredients emerged. The new wave love all things
fermented and pickled, foraged, home made, organic and rare
breed, all things exemplified in the cooking of Simon Rogan,
whose name came up time and time again when I asked the chefs
for someone they admired.
There is a very definite turning away from the elaborate
games of molecular gastronomy where nothing is what it seems
and evoking 'childhood memories' seems to be the ultimate
goal, towards capturing the essence of an ingredients flavour
and presenting in as natural way as possible, even if that
sometimes means employing a range of modern, flash kitchen
equipment to achieve that aim.
Researching and writing Kingdom of Cooks has been one of
the most fun and rewarding projects of my writing career so
far. Of course eating at all these amazing restaurant was
great, but even better was getting an real insight to the
people behind them and discovering over and over again what
passionate, driven and wonderfully hospitable people they
are. I hope I've captured that in the book.
Kingdom of Cooks: Conversations with Britain's New Wave
Chefs by Andy Lynes is available from Amazon's
Kindle Store, priced £2.99
About Kingdom of Cooks
New e-book Lifts the Lid on the Modern UK Restaurant Scene
Lynes, the well-known food, drink and travel writer, has published
his first e-book, Kingdom of Cooks: Conversations with Britain's
New Wave Chefs. In a series of in-depth interviews with some
of the most exciting, acclaimed and innovative UK chefs, including
Simon Rogan (L'Enclume, Cartmel, and Fera at Claridges,
London), Mary-Ellen McTague (Aumbry, Manchester), Neil Rankin
(The Smokehouse, London) and Gary Usher (Sticky Walnut, Chester),
the book details the harsh realities of being a chef, the
astonishing hard work it takes to make it to the top, and
reveals the secrets of creating delicious restaurant dishes.
Kingdom of Cooks is a must-read for foodies, professional
chefs and anyone who has ever dined in a restaurant and wondered
just what goes on behind the kitchen door. The interviews
take the reader behind the scenes of some of the most famous
kitchens in the country to show what it's really like paying
your dues working for chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Heston
Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver.
The book also documents an important moment in the history
of British restaurant cooking where the eclecticism first
mooted by the modern British movement of the late 80's meets
the locavore imperative of the 21st century to create a truly
distinctive style of British food for the mid-2010's.I've
been passionately interested in food and drink for more than
30 years and writing about it for a decade. In my experience,
there has never been a more exciting time to eat out in this
country, says Lynes, who embarked on a journey of more
than 2,000km and criss-crossed the UK in order to speak to
14 chefs in 13 restaurants, and consumed over 80 courses of
restaurant food in the name of research. Although London
is the accepted capital of food in the UK, I've literally
gone out of my way to prove there is something gastronomically
exciting happening in every corner of the country.
The chefs talk about their careers, their cooking styles
and the techniques and ingredients that help set them apart
from the crowd. Individual signature dishes, such as Chris
Harrod of The Crown at Whitebrook's suckling pig with celeriac,
pear and woodland sorrel, are discussed in detail, and you'll
learn everything from how to make the perfect pork crackling
to how to use every last scrap of a fish, literally down to
the last scale.
Each chef has contributed a recipe these include partridge,
burnt heather, celeriac, watercress and chanterelles by Ben
Radford of Timberyard in Edinburgh; Neil Rankin's Smokehouse
short rib Bourguignon; and salt-baked beetroot, smoked eel,
lettuce and chicken skin by Stepehen Toman of OX in Belfast.
Contact details for all 13 establishments are included in
the book, covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,
making the book a short restaurant guide for readers to follow
in the author's footsteps. Numerous other chefs and restaurants,
both in the UK and abroad, are mentioned in passing, making
Kingdom of Cooks an instant primer to the current restaurant
There is nothing I like better than a good old chin
wag about food and drink, and I realised that my work as a
journalist afforded me privileged access to talented chefs,
added Lynes. By documenting some of those unexpurgated
conversations in print I've allowed readers in on some fascinating
conversations they might otherwise not be party to.
Kingdom of Cooks: Conversations with Britain's New Wave
Chefs by Andy Lynes is available from Amazon's
Kindle Store, priced £2.99
Andy Lynes is an author and freelance food, drink
and travel writer. His work appears in The Times, The Telegraph
and The Independent. He has reviewed restaurants
for the Metro and the Guardian, and is currently a member
of the 60SecondReviews.com team. Andy is also a contributing
editor to Seasoned by Chef's magazine, and food and drink
editor of Zuri magazine. He writes regularly for Host, the
pub and bar magazine, and The Caterer. As well, he has contributed
to a number of books, including two editions of Where Chefs
Eat and the Oxford Companion to Food. His second book, How
to be a Chilli Head, will be published by Portico in May
Praise for Kingdom of Cooks
interested in today's groundbreaking chefs should check
out Andy Lynes's new book, Kingdom of Cooks' ~ Marina
O'Loughlin, restaurant critic, The Guardian
you're interested in what makes chefs tick, you'll find
this e-book fascinating' ~ Tracey MacLeod, restaurant
Kingdom of Cooks - interviews with interesting UK chefs.
Much insight, for just £2.99' ~ Xanthe Clay,
food writer for the Telegraph and author
worth a read' ~ Simon Majumdar, Food Network host
and judge and author
detail around cooking methods and ideas is so refreshing'
~ Tom Fahey, restaurant critic for Square Meal
interviewing' ~ fine-dining-guide.com
is a true professional. He cares about food, and likes to
dig deep into the creative side of the whole cooking process
in order to understand chefs and restaurants.
~ Chef/restaurateur Simon Rogan
Andy Lynes is available for interviews, or to write articles
related to the book. A PDF version of the book is available
for review on request. His contact details are: Email - email@example.com,
or Mobile - 07838-299 589.
Kingdom of Cooks extract : Simon Rogan
is a leading figure in British gastronomy in the 21st century,
with two Michelin stars for his 13 year old Cumbrian restaurant
L'Enclume in the village of Cartmel where he also runs the
more casual Rogan and Co and the village pub. He runs The
French fine dining restaurant in the Midland Hotel in Manchester
which also houses his Mr Cooper's house brasserie. He is one
of the first chefs in the UK to run his own organic farm which
supplies his restaurants and his development kitchen Aulis
has been the inspiration for many other chefs to launch similar
I interviewed Simon Rogan at Fera, his restaurant in Claridge's
hotel in London soon after it opened in May 2014. Understandably,
much of the conversation revolved around the new restaurant,
but we did speak more generally about his working arrangements,
his view on rolling with the critical punches and his ambitions
for himself and his restaurant empire.
Q: What's it like having to follow Gordon Ramsay who was
the last chef to run the restaurant at Claridge's?
A: Gordon was very kind to me. He sent me a nice bottle
of Dom Perignon and a massive bunch of flowers on opening
and Stuart Gillies sent me a bottle of Krug - they're flash
bastards aren't they? If it was me I'd be sending them a bottle
of cava or something, it's all I could afford!
I always said it would be a tough act to follow, we have very
different styles I don't think Gordon made any secret of the
fact that his other businesses took priority, and maybe they
were left to get on with it themselves here, but it was still
a great standard and it was always full to the rafters. One
thing about the restaurant with Gordon is that he was an absolutely
amazing success financially. So we need to get somewhere near
Q: Creativity is at the heart of your style of food. How
difficult is that to maintain now you have multiple sites
with long, multi-course tasting menus?
A: It's a massive challenge and I rely on my generals
a lot more than I did in the past. Before it was just L'Enclume
and things were always swimming around in your head and you
were just trail blazing and things came easy, but now you've
got to have a different head for each of the restaurants.
I've got Mark at L'Enclume, Adam at The French in Manchester
and I do Fera with Dan. These are all great chefs in their
own right, so even though my name's over the door and I come
up with the majority of the ideas, they are a great help in
making sure that things stay fresh and exciting and different.
The old brain's started to slow down a little bit, but the
food has the same DNA wherever it's served. Amazing produce,
just cooked in a simple manner. It's not the same, but it's
very similar at all the restaurants. I want people in London
to still feel they can go to L'Enclume and have something
different. It's very important and very difficult, but I've
got a good team around me.
Q: L'Enclume was a very personal venture and now you're
collaborating with hotels. How has that been for you?
A: It's been really really amazing. I got on very
well with Tom the GM and the CEO and it was the same feeling
as I had in Manchester and there wasn't a herd of wild horses
that could stop this deal from going through. A lot of investment
has gone into the restaurant and kitchen and I couldn't be
happier. I value their opinion and I respect their opinion,
but I am a restaurateur and they are hoteliers, we have a
great healthy relationship. We have our disagreements like
everyone else but we work them out and disagreements are there
for a reason and you get to the right decision in the end.
Q: Do you think you've had to make any compromises working
A: No, I don't think we have, I think everything we've
done we've shared. Maybe the décor is a compromise,
but I like it and as I said every restaurant has to be different,
I want people to have a different experience. So I respect
the fact that we are in Claridge's in a world class hotel
with an amazing history and a certain style. The compromise
has been met with bits that show that this is something to
do with me, the bare tables, the flatware, the finishing touches
are a nice mix of me and them. It's all been pretty much the
same philosophy, sharing the same values.
Q: You and your chefs serve some dishes at Fera, is that
influenced by Noma?
A: We're not doing it because Noma do it, we're doing
it because we want to and we enjoy it. Noma weren't the first
people to do it and they won't be the last. I don't want to
be compared to Noma, I don't want to be classed as copycat.
I do it at L'Enclume because I like people to know that I'm
there and just to show that I do work, I'm not in London all
the time and that L'Enclume is still very, very important
to me. And whenever I'm at Manchester as well I go out. Not
as much as here, everyone serves here and as the team gets
better and more experienced there will be a lot more of the
chef interaction because who better to deliver the food than
the people who cook it. They're the most passionate about
it and they know everything about it. People absolutely love
it and we'll continue to do that.
Q: Why isn't L'Enclume on the World's 50 Best Restaurant
A: People are lazy, if they come to London they don't
want to go out of London and why do they need to? Look at
what we've got in London, it would take you years and years
to sample London. It does grate me a little bit that people
don't take the trouble internationally to come up to L'Enclume
They say, 'Oh, it takes all that time to get to', but so was
el bulli,so is Bras. All the great restaurants in the world,
some of them are a real ball ache to get to, so maybe it's
our roads or our rail network. Fera will certainly give me
the international space that I feel L'Enclume has deserved.
The eyes of the cooking world, the restaurant world are on
us. This is a massive hotel, world famous.
L'Enclume should be on that list, I look at it and I think,
come on. The fact that all the people on that list are in
London, that's just the way it is. It's massive for business.
Although they shouldn't take it seriously, people do. I think
Claridge's have great ambitions in regards to the list because
they think that's where they should be. For me I'm in two
minds. On the one hand it would be great to be on it and amazing
for this restaurant, which has a lot more chance than L'Enclume,
bizarrely so, but then I'd also be sad for L'Enclume. If Fera
is on it why isn't L'Enclume?
Simon Rogan Recipe
Cod yolk, sage cream and pea shoots, salt and
For the cod mousse:
233g salted cod, rinsed
200g whipping cream
87g potato purée
1 leaf of gelatine
For the yolk gel:
500ml vegetable stock
50g whipping cream
30g vege gel
For the sage cream:
250g sage oil
5g sherry vinegar
7g Dijon mustard
For the salt and vinegar rice:
100g wild rice
Green pea shoot
Golden pea shoot
Rape seed oil
the cod mousse:
the gelatine in cold water.
the cod in a bag at full pressure, cook in a water bath
at 50ºC for 15 minutes.
the cream to a boil and heat the potato purée.
everything hot into a blender, add the gelatine and blitz
to a smooth consistency.
to cool, then pipe into hemispherical silicone moulds and
the yolk gel:
the vegetable stock, cream and saffron in a pan and bring
to a simmer, take off the heat and allow to cool.
cool pass through a fine sieve, add the vege gel and return
to the heat and bring to the boil while stirring. Keep warm.
dipping the yolks:
the frozen cod mousse hemispheres and push a cocktail stick
into each one at an angle.
the saffron gel is kept at 70ºC, dip each hemi sphere
into the gel twice, in succession and reserve in an oven
proof dish with the cocktail stick still in place, allow
to defrost in a fridge.
the sage cream:
the yolks, eggs, salt, vinegar and mustard in a Thermomix
and blend together, slowly add the sage oil, while blending
to make a sage mayonnaise.
this to a cream whipper and charge twice, place the whipper
in a water bath at 50ºC and reserve.
the salt and vinegar rice:
vegetable oil to 220ºC and fry the wild rice until
it puffs, drain immediately onto paper towel and allow to
the puffed wild rice into a bowl and season with the vinegar
powder and salt to taste.
tapioca maltodextrin until you have the desired consistency.
the dish with the yolks in, cover with cling film and gently
heat at 50ºC in a hot cupboard.
Place a spoonful of salt and vinegar rice in a bowl, carefully
place a cod yolk on top, twisting out the cocktail stick,
garnish with the pea shoots.
one side of the yolk where the cocktail stick was with the
warm sage cream and finish with rape seed oil.
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