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Book Review… The Savvy Shopper

29 June 2006
Book Review… The Savvy Shopper

Provenance is all when it comes to good cooking. Customers are more knowledgeable about the food chain and want to know where restaurants are sourcing their produce. Is the cod from sustainable stocks? How many food miles were used to deliver the asparagus or tomatoes? Did that porker see daylight and fields before it went to the abattoir?

It's all too easy to see this as jumping on the organic bandwagon, but this is not the case. Organic is only part of the equation and is not always a sign of quality, whereas well produced, carefully sourced British ingredients will undoubtedly make the food you serve better and more appreciated and therefore, one hopes, keep your restaurant busier.

Critics will complain that this takes too much time when you can get a few suppliers to provide you with all you need. If you want an easy and banal cooking existence then take that route, I say.

But for many years now I have derived immense pleasure from sourcing small producers of first class ingredients from around Great Britain. Real heroes such as Richard Vaughan of Pedigree Meats for his Middle White pork or Daphne Tilley for her Elwy Valley lamb are such examples.

It makes the kitchen life of a cook more stimulating and pleasurable, which is why I welcome food writer Rose Prince in her guise as the Savvy Shopper at the Daily Telegraph and her spin-off book of the same title. She has collected together a little kitchen bible of good British ingredients and some good foreign imports. She enlightens us with information that the major producers keep to themselves.

This book will help to keep the Great British smallholder in business, so if you really do care about what you put on the plate, then keep a copy in the kitchen.

Henry Harris, chef and co-owner, Racine, London

The Savvy Shopper Rose Prince

Fourth Estate, £7.99

ISBN 0007219938

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