If I had three words to describe myself they would be ‘passionate about food’.
I am a chef, a baker and a sourdough expert, and over time I have also become an author, a teacher and a food consultant. At the moment, I’m very excited about the launch of my new book, ‘Sourdough Suppers – A Year in the Life of a Wild Yeast Culture’, which will be published by Troubadour in May 2016.
I loved cooking from an early age so heading off to culinary school was a simple choice for me. I studied in Edinburgh, and at the Culinary Institute of America and then gained valuable experience working in a number of restaurant kitchens before striking out on my own to follow my dreams, at the time, to become a private chef.
I wanted to develop my own recipes and bring them to life with produce I had thoughtfully sourced, then created using my own methods, and then finally served to people equally passionate about food. Over the course of 16 years I worked as a private chef for clients in the UK, USA, Spain, France and Italy, with the majority of my clients becoming regular patrons.
My interest in bread-making began when I was at school, and my curiosity into the science and history behind this staple food steadily increased over the years. Whilst working in Rhinebeck, New York, I made one of the most influential discoveries in my career; I was given Nancy Silverton’s book ‘La Brea Bakery’ which features step-by-step instructions on how to capture a Sourdough yeast culture.
Being an intrepid youngster at the time I leapt upon the challenge and equipped with a plastic tub, some flour and a square of muslin I set about my quest. Conceived well over a decade ago in New York, this very same Sourdough culture (affectionately named Sidney) has travelled the word (housed in a Porcini mushroom container from Waitrose!) and primarily resides in a large glass jar in my kitchen. It is this sourdough culture which forms the basis of my workshops and baking, and has pleased Dukes, Duchesses, Lords, Ladies and even the occasional Prime Minister and Princess.
My love of bread-making has earned me the honour of writing a column for True Loaf magazine; I write as the Itinerant Baker & Chef.
Teaching workshops on cooking and bread-making has become a big part of my life. I’ve run courses from all sorts of places for all sorts of cooks, from ‘Men In The Kitchen in Cambridge’ to ‘Baking in a Wood Fired Oven’ at Sapori e Saperi in Tuscany.
Food ethics and sustainability are really important to me. I split my time between the UK and France these days and love to fill my shopping basket (and my recipes and workshops) with the best local seasonal produce I can find. This is one of the reasons I was initially approached to undertake a food consultancy project and for the last 5 years I have provided guidance and advice to a number of clients on food policy, ethics, sustainable procurement, menu design and recipe testing.