Book review: Open Kitchen by Great British Chefs

08 February 2024 by
Book review: Open Kitchen by Great British Chefs

Great British Chefs reveals the secret to iconic dishes from restaurants across the country

Maybe you've always wanted to know exactly how Endo Kazutoshi creates the gotō udon for his 20-course omakase menu? Or what ingredients go into Kerth Gumbs' parsnip cake with salted Baileys custard? Great British Chefs' Open Kitchen flings open the doors of establishments to showcase iconic dishes, revealing the ingredients and methods behind them.

Take as a case in point a recipe for Nokx Majozi's Cape Malay chicken curry pie. The chef, known for her elaborate pies at London's Holborn Dining Room, has created a masterpiece in golden pastry work blending classic technique with her South African roots. Or there's Tommy Banks' super-precise barbecued barrel fillet with asparagus, the simple title belying the seven-stage instruction on elements including a bordelaise sauce and black garlic emulsion. Similarly complex is Simon Rogan's entry, which includes recipes for Musselburgh leeks, quinoa and assorted sorrels and a Marans egg yolk cooked in chicken fat, along with instructions on creating such a delicate dish. Yet although these are complex recipes, there is no need for expensive equipment – most ask for nothing more technically advanced than a blender.

Each entry also showcases the chefs in their habitat, such as Ramael Scully, who is pictured making roasted pork belly with a cubeb pepper caramel and pomelo salsa; his pastry chef sprinkling coconut on a matcha swiss roll before it is cut and presented on the plate. Some entries reveal sourcing, such as Harriet Mansell of Lilac in Lyme Regis, whose recipe for barbecued lamb, alexanders, rhubarb and kale tostada gives instruction on how to pickle foraged alexander buds and fry nettle leaves for decoration.

This is a fascinating peek at the pass of respected chefs working at the top of their game, with photography that reveals the technique and care that goes into creation and presentation. There are no interviews, no thoughts on menu development – just recipe after recipe and lush photography. Tweezers at the ready.

Open Kitchen by Great British Chefs (Clearview Books, £25)

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