“Australia is on a different scale,” says Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef who needs little introduction. A household name, to cook his recipes for him It almost became her own kitchen.
While preparing for a tour that would take him away from the British winter to big theaters and convention centers across the east coast of Australia, I asked him, does he find this experience strange: going up on the stage and not the kitchen? “I’m squeezing myself all the time, and I’m blue all over,” he says with real amazement. “I don’t do that kind of volume in other parts of the world.” And the audience? “I have the loudest crowd, really, in Australia.”
His tour of Flavor of Life is loosely related to his book Flavor, which he co-authored with Ixta Belfrage. Audiences will hear about the influences and experiences that have made a chef indispensable to many home cooks, along with insights into being a restaurateur. It will surely be infused with our latest global experiences. In a sign of the times, the original dates were postponed for so long, he published another book: Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love.
“I feel at home when I come to Australia,” he says from his home in London. “It’s weird, I’ve never lived there, never spent much time, but just has that kind of feeling. I have a lot of Australian friends here in London, and I think I understand the culture very well.”
There is an “immediacy” or appreciation within its Australian audience, compared to the United Kingdom and the United States. “[They are] The most familiar in the kitchens of the world, due to the nature of the migration that took place in Australia. Thanks to waves of immigration from Lebanon, Greece and all over Asia, there is, he feels, “a wonderful understanding of food and how it works, and the potential for food to cross cultures.” He says Australian food magazines are “probably the best in the world”, because you can see that there is “an assumption that the reader knows a lot, is well versed in different cuisines and has cooked”.
We may be seasoned and well seasoned, but this can also be said to be due to cookbooks such as him, from Margaret Fulton to Chefs of Today; Those who have had a real and lasting impact on our food culture, pushing specialty ingredients into supermarket aisles and giving home-shy chefs the confidence to take on the risks of cooking.
His position was never about “assuming that anyone had any prior knowledge,” he said. “I’m not saying people don’t, I just don’t want to assume that they do.” This means that “every recipe and every introduction to an ingredient, method, or cuisine you have learned or tried” should be available.
He wants to make sure that “people really delve into the education level” and have a “really good understanding of where they’re going and the results they should expect”. Although he does not assume that the level of food literacy is high, he did not reduce the lists of ingredients; Even when it’s hard to find. “I think there is a great thirst for expanding your knowledge.”
The meaning of Ottolenghi cooking has changed over recent years. It has become a wider church. “It goes from being about me to being about other authors I show or work with,” he says. “I feel like a beneficiary of this collaboration.”
Working with others means that “books are not static… I would probably have stopped publishing cookbooks if I had to rely solely on my own resources personally. I am completely open to that.”
That’s the beauty of these modern books: they feature people with “amazing talents and a different personal story,” resulting in different approaches to cooking.
Flavor with Ixta Belfrage draws on Mexican heat, fermentation, and umami-rich ingredients, while his latest book Shelf Love with Bahrain-born chef Noor Murad is a hands-on work. Because of the lockdown and people’s need to cook every meal, it’s all about skills and using ingredients with a long shelf life, “whether it’s spices, grains, jars or frozen produce”.
“small [Murad] This book really drove it. “[She’s] Incredibly imaginative and elaborate the way you think… it sets the tone.
“I’m there and I taste and give my opinion,” he says. A few years ago, he would send out a list of ideas at the beginning of each week, “but now I’ve taken a step back.” “It’s more about their ideas and they take it from start to finish.
“I think we’re in a good place right now…We know what we’re looking for when we cook a new dish, and we publish a new book.”
There is no requirement to strictly adhere to the ingredients, for example. “This is a misconception.” Alternatives have always been a part of his writing. “All those things you can do for ‘impunity’, I’ve always supported… [Shelf Love] It’s all about it: Substitute the chickpeas for the beans, use one bean, substitute the other, and remove a few items if you need to.”
He knows what it means to some people “Ottolenghi cooking”. The idea that it is about unusual ingredients that are difficult to obtain, long and complex processes, topped with a lot of washing. While this is absolutely true for some recipes, it is wrong for others, such as three-ingredient recipes and Chinese bread. “You know, it’s all good,” he says.
Getting rid of it was no more necessary than shutting down, when the culinary effort and creativity went into recycling foods from earlier days. Although that didn’t change the way I cook it, it “changed the way I think about and prioritize cooking.”
Pancakes, pancakes, and things you can “pack together” to meet children’s needs took center stage, “more nutrients, but don’t try too hard to push that agenda, because kids don’t appreciate those efforts so much.” He says his two young sons, Max and Flynn, prefer comfort foods to his wife Carl from British fare to tacos and ramen. “But I don’t feel offended.”
He has become more tolerant, lowering expectations about what it means to put a meal on the table. “You know, scrambled eggs, bread, and salad for dinner is a very good thing for me.”
But these longtime chefs are nothing to give up.
While we may see a race downward in cooking times, with publishers touting 60, 30 and 15 minute meals, perhaps ignoring this restorative effect of slowing down and taking your time.
“There’s nothing wrong with the idea that you put in a lot of hard work, and get something very special at the end of the process.”