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Book review: Salt is Essential by Shaun Hill

25 October 2016 by

Kyle Books, £25

Shaun Hill's regular contributions to The Caterer's

The same can be said of Hill's latest book, Salt is Essential, during which the reader is taken on a journey through his 50 years as a chef, involving stints with Robert Carrier, at Gidleigh Park, at his own restaurant the Merchant House, and in partnership at the Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny.

In the book, Hill's words of wisdom adorn the titles of each chapter. For example, chapter one - entitled 'Creative thinking is a bad idea if you know nothing' - explains that "it is really as unwise to attempt Gordon Ramsay's or Raymond Blanc's signature dishes at an early stage in your cooking career, as it is to rewire the house or rebuild your career, with similar inexperience and just a diagram to follow".

The chapter goes on to give an insight into many of the classic recipes Hill prepared in his early days at the stove, from sole Veronique to steak Diane.

Throughout the book, the dishes are generally ones that can easily be mastered by the most competent cook and, certainly, by the professional chef. In every case, the intention is to create something that tastes good, rather than something that looks pretty, such as tandoori fish or lamb shoulder with butter beans and chorizo. The accompanying images by Tamin Jones are certainly far more alluring than any pictures of a carefully constructed tower of food can ever be.

Salt is Essential is a book to cook from, time and time again, as well as provide a wonderfully entertaining and informative read. I highly recommend it for all Hill followers, as well as for young chefs who can expect to pick up a plethora of sensible tips that will stand them in good stead for their career ahead.

By Janet Harmer

If you like this, you may enjoy these

  • How to Cook Better Shaun Hill
  • Cooking at the Merchant House Shaun Hill
  • Jane Grigson's English Food Jane Grigson

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