The former City worker turned cook and food blogger has become a leading new voice in British food writing. His fan base includes Nigella Lawson and Diana Henry and this year he is releasing his first book, On the Side, a compendium of side dishes, which he says are too often overlooked.
- What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
I helped Mum with puddings and Sunday lunch since whenever my memory begins (5,6,7,8,dunno?). Partly because I was a fat kid. And partly because I’m one of four, and I learnt very early on that if I even waved some sugar into a crumble mix, then I didn’t have to help wash up.
- What’s the most memorable thing you’ve a.) cooked and b.) the most memorable meal you’ve eaten?
(a) At catering college I had to debone a carp without breaking the skin, stuff it with a fancy farce and steam it. It’s particularly memorable because it was a complete pain to do, looked like a 1970s food photo, and tasted terrible.
(b) A collaborative pop-up dinner in East London in 2011, where two chefs, James Lowe and Isaac McHale, cooked up a storm. There were multiple superb courses of contemporary new-British food. I remember in particular an amazing Jersey Royal dish, where the potatoes starred; and the best steak tartare (and oyster emulsion) I’ve ever had. Savvy wine matches, communal tables etc etc. It sounds cliché now, but at the time it was ahead of trend and everything was so good — and I think paved the way for much of what has happened in London’s restaurant scene since. It was also a bargain, and both James and Isaac have gone on to establish successful and celebrated restaurants.
- Who would be at your dream dinner party?
Dinner with all my brothers and our spouses is always good, tbh. But if we’re going fantasy, then I’d like to chew the fat and organise a coup with Jon Stewart, Barack Obama, Beyonce, Tina Fey and Bill Murray
- What’s your favourite food? / favourite drink?
Food – Probably rustic Italian. My Death Row meal is probably slow roast lamb shoulder, caponata, and butter beans stewed away for hours with sage and rosemary.
Drink – Any wine, so long as it’s good.
- What’s the best thing you learnt at a cookery school?
Be organised and tidy.
- What’s the one thing you would tell any would-be cook?
It’s not rocket science, just dinner. So don’t hold back.
- In one sentence how would you say about the the row surrounding so-called ‘clean eating’ and the recent backlash?
I am surprised it has taken two or three years to ‘expose’ clean eating; and think it’s professionally embarrassing that publishers and media outlets (now backlashing) provided such a platform for the fad in the first place.
- What exciting things do you have planned for you this year?
My debut cookbook is out in May, so will be busy with that over the summer. It’s called On the Side, and is the world’s first, only and therefore best book on side dishes. Hopefully people will find it useful — I think we spend too much time on centrepieces, and not enough on what to serve them with.
Follow Ed on Twitter and Instagram @rocketandsquash or visit his website: rocketandsquash.com