By Anna Hedworth
Head of Zeus, £25
Anyone considering opening a restaurant with no previous experience would do well to pick up a copy of Cook House, a book from architect turned chef-restaurateur Anna Hedworth.
From the outset, Hedworth knew that studying architecture was not the right thing to do, but she went with it, unable to think up an alternative path. However, while at university, she began to cook, initially as an excuse to invite over a boy that her flatmate had an eye on. It proved to be the start of a love affair with food.
Once ensconced in a job with an architecture firm in Newcastle, Hedworth became obsessed with reading food blogs, before creating her own called The Grazer, as well as increasingly experimenting with dishes at home. Alongside filling all of her spare time with food and cooking, she was planning her escape from office life.
The first steps to establish a full-time, food-focused career came via a series of supper clubs, which eventually led to the launch, in 2014, of the first incarnation of the Cook House restaurant, located in two shipping containers in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley. Four years later the restaurant relocated to larger premises nearby.
Hedworth’s journey from architect to chefproprietor is fascinating, told in a series of chapters interspersed with a selection of recipes that represent a simple style of cooking, which, in her own words, represents “a good balance of sweet, savoury and sharp flavours, of texture and crush, which is seasonal, fresh and tasty”.
Dishes that jump off the page include spring stew with peas, asparagus, broad beans and wild garlic; smoked mackerel and spinach kedgeree with cardamom rice; and slow-roasted beef short ribs with treacle, thyme and smoked sugar.
There is much that appeals from the sweet and baked section, too, from blackberry jam crumble tart, and blood orange and Campari drizzle cake to berry pavlova with cherry coulis.
Cook House provides a warts and all insight into setting up a restaurant, demonstrating that key ingredients are passion, grit and determination. Hedworth shows that she has all three attributes in spades.
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