By Bryan Webb
A Way with Media, £25
Working in rural north Wales is rarely a recipe for high profile and stardom, but Bryan Webb's enduring success and Michelin star show he is a chef who knows a thing or two and can cook.
This book has two sides. There's the story of a talented man's journey through the restaurant and cooking trade in London's West End, as well as the Welsh countryside. And then there are the recipes. Both are intertwined, as the recipes conjure up the kitchens in which Webb has worked and the chefs who inspired him to keep going. One of those chefs was Franco Taruschio, who owned and cooked at the Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, which has been my own perch for the past nine years.
Among the Franco-inspired recipes are Lady Llanover's salt-cured duck and bresaola, alongside plenty of touches from the Welsh countryside such as monkfish with Carmarthen ham, and a sea bass dish with laverbread butter sauce. Laverbread, an edible Welsh seaweed, isn't my favourite ingredient, but the majority in Wales would beg to differ, and hold it in much the same esteem as the red dragon that welcomes you to Wales, if not quite as much as the Welsh rugby team or the choral singing heritage.
Traditional and classic dishes like coq au vin, piccalilli and caramelised rice pudding are well explained and the range of recipes nicely covers the best of what we used to eat alongside the best of what we are keen to eat now.
The photography is a little hit and miss, but the book itself and the content is excellent. I love the title Not Bad for a Taff, as the recipes and Webb's intelligent explanations are way better than 'not bad'.
By Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor, the Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
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