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From Nature to Plate by Tom Kitchin – Book review

05 August 2009 by
From Nature to Plate by Tom Kitchin – Book review

From Nature to Plate
Tom Kitchin
Weidenfeld & Nicolson £30
ISBN 978-0-297-85593-4

See our recipe from the book: Tom Kitchin's roasted monkfish wrapped in pancetta

In his first book, the youngest Michelin-starred chef-patron in Scotland, Tom Kitchin, shows us his background, influences, voice and individual approach to seasonal cooking.

After training with the likes of Pierre Koffmann, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse, at the Kitchin he has found his own individual style which combines simplicity, freshness and seasonality, with more than a nod to his classical French training.

It's not just the recipes that are intriguing about this book. His intro, "sharing my world", may not be as graphic as Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, but it's a simple and compelling story for any aspiring chef to read.

Including anecdotes from throughout his career, Kitchin recalls his time at La Tante Claire to incidents when his mentor, and now friend, Koffmann, became the pot wash at his own Edinburgh restaurant for a night.

There's an endearing smattering of personal details thrown in, too, complete with pictures, including his wedding day to Michaela and Koffmann holding Kitchin's two-week-old son Kasper.

But back to the recipes. After introductions to each season, Kitchin proffers up a range of dishes from the simple and classic, such as gazpacho and globe artichokes with a vinaigrette dressing, to his "signature dish" of boned and rolled pig's head with langoustines and a crispy ear salad, stuffed squid with razor clams and pickled cucumber.

His passion for the seasons and Scottish produce leaps off the pages, with extra sections dedicated to key ingredients such as grouse, Orkney seafood, pork, girolles and asparagus.

Like his restaurant, very much a collaboration between Kitchin and his wife Michaela, this book certainly has a personal tone and it shines through. Kitchin's versions of classic French/European dishes all nestle alongside Michaela's scrambled eggs - something the family has at home on their day off.

There are tips aplenty, too, with Kitchin's closeness to his suppliers and extensive culinary knowledge leaving the reader with nuggets of advice on everything from hanging venison to which cuts of meat to use, possible substitutes for ingredients and how to freeze gnocchi.

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