Salt is a weighty debut from recently Michelin-starred chef Paul Foster in terms of both its size and content. The recipes showcase the beautifully delicate and technical dishes that have seen the restaurant receive plaudits and rave reviews since it opened in March 2017.
But the recipes are just half the story. Foster uses the first 97 pages to chart his career, share the stories of some of his suppliers and initiate a discussion about how great hospitality is created, with prestigious industry contributors.
The chef is frank, revealing the impact of jumping from a two-AA-rosette kitchen to the “hardcore” two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire – a move that he says nearly broke him.
He speaks passionately about a stage at California’s French Laundry, as well as the sous chef position he took up at Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham on his return to the UK. He credits the posting with making “everything seem worthwhile”, while his former mentor contributes to the book in a foreword.
The challenges in taking up head chef roles at Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk, and Mallory Court, Warwickshire, are also charted, along with Foster’s ultimate gamble of packing in his job and financing Salt, his restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon, through a crowdfunding campaign.
There is so much to learn from Foster, not just in developing as a cook, manager and businessperson, but also from the way he speaks of his suppliers and his account of how he financed and opened his debut restaurant.
Recipes are accompanied with notes explaining how to adapt a given dish to create a vegetarian offer, why a flavour combination works, when or where ingredients should be sourced or why a cut of meat is appropriate.
Salt is a hugely personal piece of work that seems to also serve as a thank you to all those who have helped Foster along the way. Reading it, one could forget that he is a young chef who, with one star under his belt, has much left ahead of him. As he says, there are more chapters to come.
Salt by Paul Foster (Away With Media, £39.95)
• See the recipe for king oyster mushroom tagliatelle, slow-cooked duck egg yolk, mushroom ketchup and yeast from Salt here