Book review: Hawksworth, by David Hawksworth

11 March 2021 by
Book review: Hawksworth, by David Hawksworth

Vancouverite David Hawksworth's contemporary Canadian food might exalt West Coast produce like spot prawns, sablefish and sockeye salmon, but there is an unmistakably European accent to the recipes in his first cookbook.

This comes as no surprise, as Hawksworth spent the 1990s working in some of the best UK kitchens of the time, including the Square and Marco-era L'Escargot. Dishes include a mosaic of venison, duck and quail, taught to Hawksworth by Gary Jones at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, and a yellowfin tuna-wrapped crab salad, inspired by Bruno Loubet's whole seabass stuffed with panzanella, which was on the menu at Isola when Hawksworth worked there.

Hawksworth's memoirs make entertaining and enlightening reading. When staging at Restaurant Marco Pierre White, he was warned never to look at the great chef during service: "Look him in the eye, then you're a target – you're finished." As opening chef at Raymond Blanc's Le Petit Blanc in Oxford, he recalls having to cut the door to the meat locker in half and crawl in and out on his hands and knees because it was blocked by a staircase.

Recipes include not only fine dining dishes such as squab pot-au-feu with parsley dumplings, from Hawksworth's eponymous restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver, but also from his more casual Nightingale restaurant and Bel Cafés, such as clam spaghetti and crispy buttermilk-fried chicken with pickled ramps ranch. Vancouver is a famously cosmopolitan city, which Hawksworth reflects in dishes like spicy chicken and green papaya salad and jungle pork curry.

Although aimed at a North American audience, ingredients (most of which are either universally available or could be easily substituted) are listed with grams and millilitre measurements as well as cups, making the book perfectly usable for UK readers.

In his foreword, Phil Howard says: "I know for certain that you will not regret investing in this book – and the knowledge of this chef." I can only concur.

Hawksworth, by David Hawksworth (Appetite by Random House, $40/£33.99)

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