I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many places around the world, and experience some absolutely fantastic food. My travels have provided much inspiration for this book, and indeed some of you reading this might even see some dishes that have we have shared and that provided the insight.
Perhaps the best experiences have been where you don’t expect something incredible, but when the food turns up, it is completely stunning beyond its price or basic description. There are many that stand out, such as the simple but extensive grilled meze from “Tripoli” in Jaffa near Tel Aviv (shown in the cover photo); the wonderful Tapas bars in the back streets of Cordoba in Spain; the incredible Lobster Bisque in a lovely Italian bistro in Stockholm; the amazing fresh Tabouleh in Saudi Arabia; the brilliant pasta in “Toscanini” in Amsterdam; the sensational seafood in “Claypots”, Melbourne…I could go on!
I must have well over 100+ recipe books from a variety of chefs, and with each book having between 100 and 200 recipes that’s nearly 20,000 to choose from, and that doesn’t include all the ideas not from books. With that amount of choice, it’s really difficult to get the right inspiration when wanting to cook, nor know which ones really work. And that’s the idea behind this book. A selection of the best combinations, ideas and recipes that I know work, that are either true to their origin or I have refined over many iterations.
The inspiration also comes from some of my favourite chefs such as Keith Floyd’s wine inspired flamboyant style; Jamie Oliver’s pukka approach to just throwing simple flavours together; Rick Stein’s great passion for seafood, but also making everything look so easy; Delia Smith’s rustic recipes that just work; …and for those of you who remember the Galloping gourmet, for some of my earliest cooking experiences! All of these chefs have a relatively simple, pragmatic, unpretentious approach, of combining the freshest ingredients with robust flavours and not a single flavoured foam or colour smoke in sight.
The final inspiration comes from the pleasure of cooking and sharing great food with my wife, family and friends. To eat great food is wonderful, but there is something extra special when you have cooked it yourself!