Category Archives: recipe books

Fish and chips – Tom Kerridge style


Tom Kerridge has been grabbing the headlines this week at the opening of his first restaurant in London. The reason is his menu includes fish and chips priced at £32.50.

I won’t be heading to Kerridge’s Bar and Grill at the Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall to sample them. To charge £32.50 for  a piece of brill and a few fried potatoes is outrageous, even if they do come with pease pudding, tartare sauce and something called a matson spicy sauce.

Kerridge, whose TV persona is that of the chatty bloke next door, clearly believes customers will stump up that sort of money. And he may well be right.  Trying to find perfect fish and chips in London is like trying to find the proverbial holy grail. A couple of weeks ago, when I went for a takeaway to a fish and chip restaurant in south-east London that has garnered many outstanding reviews, I ended up depositing most of my meal in the bin.

I have to say that I’ve always come away underwhelmed when I’ve eaten at restaurants owned by celebrity chefs. I’ve only been to three – Jamie’s Italian, a Marco Pierre White place near Harrod’s, and Rick Stein at Barnes – , but I’ve seen enough to realise that they are no better or worse than countless other restaurants.

Something tells me that if I did indeed go to Kerridge’s Bar and Grill, expecting sensational fish and chips, I’d come away at the end of the meal very disappointed, which is exactly how I felt upon leaving Rick Stein at Barnes.

Of course, the exorbitant price Kerridge is charging for fish and chips has got him acres of space in the media. Everyone now knows Kerridge has a spot in central London.

I’d like to think the cost of fish and chips was a publicity stunt, and the price will drop by half once the media chatter has died away.  But I very much doubt it.


Too many recipe books


I walked into a branch of Waterstone’s the other day and immediately gravitated to the food and drink section. And not for the first time, I was astonished by the number of recipe books on the shelves.

When I came out of the shop, I found myself musing how many copies these often lavishly and expensively produced books sell.

Okay, Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients was the best selling book in the UK last year, and people like Mary Berry and Rick Stein shift copies because they have the ability to make a connection with viewers of their TV programmes. And, of course, if you are a regular face on TV – no matter how bad you are on the screen, like Nadia Hussein or the Hairy Bikers – you will sell books.

But what about all these other chefs? How many copies of their books are actually sold?

And have you noticed how big some of these books are? They take up a lot of space on a shelf. Last year, The True Food of Spain by Monika Linton, the founder of Brindisa came out. It’s a thumping 544 pages!

It seems that every chef who makes an appearance on Saturday Kitchen has just published a recipe book.  The scenario has almost become a parody. After asking what the chef will be cooking, Matt Tebbutt will then say as if surprised, “So you’ve got a book out.”

“Yes,” says the chef. “I’ve loved writing it.”

“So what’s it about?”

“Well, Matt, I want to show how cooking delicious meals at home can be really quick/I want to provide busy people with some simple ideas for healthy meals/I want to show that vegetables don’t have to be boring…”

They say this in the manner of someone who has some secret to share when what they are doing is the same as hundreds of other recipe book writers have already done.

“No!” I yell at the TV. “We don’t want another cookery book like this. There are hundreds of them out there. Please! Go back to the kitchen in your restaurant and stay there.”

Of course, only the publishers know how many recipe books get sold – and they only release figures when they want to boast. They never tell you which recipe book has been a turkey.

But I would hazard a guess that many of these books are probably bought as gifts for birthdays or Christmas, and that they never actually get used.

At least that’s how it is with me. I much prefer to watch a video of a chef cooking a dish on You Tube. It’s a far better way to follow a recipe – and it  doesn’t take up space on a shelf