Onwards & Upwards, says Paul Askew in the first line of the preface, is a fitting title for this book, in which he provides a candid insight into his personal and professional life.
The death of Askew's mother, Marjorie, left him feeling lost, he writes, but also gave his work a new lease of life, and he channelled his energy into creating new dishes in her honour. And he talks about how respect for great produce helped him to identify his own style.
This is a very personal book, starting with Askew's childhood in Sunderland, moving on to the beginnings of his culinary career and eventually to the launch of his Liverpool restaurant, the Art School, in September 2014.
Askew's menus are governed by the seasons and the produce around him. Hence, the book devotes considerable space to some of his favourite producers, such as Two Cathedrals Honey, Wards Fishmongers, Senna Lane Farm and the Rhug Estate. The recipes are unsurprisingly divided up by season.
Spring highlights include fillet of Menai mackerel, blood orange dressing and herb-infused goats' curd; a plate of Callum's Oldfield Farm Galloway beef, which includes tongue, cheek and sirloin; and the Captain's Trophy - Askew's version of a baked Alaska with pineapple, clotted cream ice-cream and a honey base.
Meat-free dishes feature throughout, including a summer vegan dish of Asian-marinated tofu, served with vegetable spaghetti, girolle mushrooms, pak choi and beetroot purée, blowing the standard mushroom risotto usually offered to vegetarians out of the water.
Photos of Askew's staff at the Art School conclude the book. If the recipes weren't enough, their smiling and friendly faces would encourage anyone to make a reservation at what has become one of Liverpool's leading restaurants.
Onwards & Upwards: 40 signature recipes from the Art School restaurant, by Paul Askew (Relish Publications, £30)
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