Modern British Food: Recipes from Parlour
By Jesse Dunford Wood
Absolute Press, £20
I knew I was reading a book written by a chef who clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously when I read that McDonald’s hash browns are Jesse Dunford Wood’s guilty secret, and that he has included a recipe of his own version in his book, Modern British Food: Recipes from Parlour.
Dunford Wood learned his trade under a parade of great chefs, including Michael Caines, Rowley Leigh and Australian chef Mark Best. His fun, theatrical side was gleaned from his time with the late American chef and restaurateur Charlie Trotter, one of the earliest adopters of the chef’s table at his eponymous Chicago restaurant.
Dunford Wood teamed up with Oliver Peyton in 2006 to open the National Dining Rooms at the National Gallery in London before launching the Mall Tavern in Notting Hill Gate. He eventually went it alone when he opened Parlour in Kensal Green in northwest London five years ago.
The chef is known for his fun and eccentric cooking, combined with a flamboyant service style – think chocolate sauce squirted across a table and bottles of Prosecco opened with a machete – and he has filled Modern British Food with his unusual recipe concoctions.
The repertoire includes golden oldies (scrumpets of lamb, chicken ‘kyiv’, arctic rolls); twists on classics (Wagon Wheels, blancmange, Battenberg cake); and the unexpected (‘Quornish’ pasties, for instance). There is also a recipe for his famous cow pie with marrow stuffing.
The book is simply separated into two sections – sweet and savoury – and the chapters include ‘Golden breadcrumbed everything’, ‘Tidy jellies, unbaked cheesecakes and friends’ and (my personal favourite) a whole section on ‘The joy of custard’ with everything from crème brûlée tarts and vanilla slices to baked almond custard and deep-fried custard.
For the professional chef, this collection could provide inspiration and new ways of thinking about the classics – or could even just be a bit of fun. Because ultimately, cooking and food and eating are supposed to about enjoyment, are they not?
By Katherine Price
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