About Time You Met: Rosie Birkett, Chef and Food WriterBy Angelica Malin
Food writer, published author, chef and broadcaster, Rosie Birkett has over a decade of experience working in food media. Rosie has sold out numerous supper clubs (at Carousel and J Sheekey Oyster Bar to name but a few), collaborated on dinners with some of London’s hottest chefs, and has published four cookbooks. We chatted to Rosie about her latest book, favourite autumnal dishes and seasonal produce:
Tell us a bit about your background, how did you first get into food?
I grew up in a family of food obsessives. My mum is an amazing cook and my dad used to grow all our veg and used to take me foraging in the Kent countryside, so I grew up with an appreciation of good ingredients and the joys of cooking, but it wasn’t until I began writing about food that I realised I could build my profession around it.
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
Seasonality is the biggest inspiration for me; I love the uniqueness of the British seasons and working with produce when it’s at its best. I also get a lot of ideas from travelling and exploring new flavours and ingredients, and tasting things when I eat out.
We’re fast approaching the autumn season, what are your favourite autumnal dishes to create at home?
At this time of year I love to spend a Sunday in the kitchen with fogged-up windows cooking a really good roast for my loved ones – a lovely shoulder of rare breed pork with crispy crackling, apples and sage is a favourite. I also yearn for comfort food as the weather gets cooler, and nothing hits the spot like a molten cheese toastie or grilled cheese. I recently created a recipe for Leerdammer (which melts amazingly well in a toastie) – with warming, harissa-spiked slowly caramelised onions and melted nutty Leerdammer. Delish.
You’re currently working on your new book, The Joyful Home Cook, how does this differ from your last book?
It’s continuing with a lot of the same themes from the first book: cooking from scratch, resourceful tips and tricks to get the most out of humble ingredients and exciting, easy ideas to pimp up your home cooked food, but also expanding on them with the addition of loads of preserving, fermenting, brining, smoking and more crafty skills and ideas to make you a better home cook. I love my first book but I’ve certainly changed and grown as a cook in the years since I wrote it, and this book reflects that too.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into cooking?
Just get cooking! There is a wealth of knowledge, recipes and inspiration out there and the brilliant thing about food is that you can never stop learning. I went to cookery school but I’d say I’m mostly self-taught and I still set myself tasks to learn new dishes and techniques. Once you delve into cooking the possibilities are endless, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
You’ve amassed an impressive following on Instagram, do you enjoy using the platform to share your cooking with followers?
Yes, totally, Instagram is a great platform for sharing enthusiasm and ideas around food. As a person who’s sharing recipes in particular, it’s a really good gauge of what people like and are looking for in cookery right now.
Do you have any simple tips, tricks or favourite ingredients that could help novices to easily upgrade their cooking?
Yes, marinated courgettes! You griddle them until they are charred and softened, season with salt and thyme and then douse them in olive oil, lemon juice and zest. They are fab in salads or sandwiches – I put them in an epic baguette with ricotta, sundried tomatoes and Leerdammer.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I feel very lucky to say that there have been quite a few. Telling stories of inspirational people and places in food is such an incredible privilege, as is sharing my recipes and seeing people cooking and enjoying them. There is no better feeling than when someone tells you they cooked one of your recipes and loved it. Writing cookbooks is such an intense but creative and collaborative thing, I really have loved that process. Also, when I met Rick Stein and he knew about my popcorn cheesecake that was mind blowing to me as I grew up watching and adoring his shows!
Photo Credit: Helen Cathcart
What are your plans for the future?
Once the book is finished I’ll need to spend lots of time getting the word out and sharing it with people as much as I can. Ultimately I’d like to write more books, film more foodie films and explore more of the world.
Rosie Birkett has partnered with Leerdammer to ‘upgrade the everyday’ with an array of deliciously inspiring recipes that embrace the distinct nutty taste of the Dutch cheese. It’s not just the iconic holes and unrivalled taste that makes Leerdammer so unique, every delicious slice is made from 100% Free Grazing milk.