Hospitality has been hit hard throughout the pandemic but that hasn’t stopped chefs from across the dining out spectrum helping out where they can, often through the delivery of meals to those most in need.Another such charitable vehicle has been the cookbook, with chefs donating their recipes to create tomes of which the proceeds go to charity. Most recent has been Recipes for Heroes, a book of 20 recipes from 20 chefs the proceeds of which go towards funding the not-for-profit initiative Hospitality for Heroes, which has been responsible for providing more than 100,000 meals for the NHS since the start of the pandemic.
Next month sees the release of another cookbook on with a similar charitable bent - timed to be released on the week of the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown. Called Chefs at Home, the book is a collection of lockdown recipes from 54 UK chefs with 100% of all royalties going to industry charity Hospitality Action.
The roster of chefs involved is impressive, and includes cookbook stalwarts such as Raymond Blanc, James Martin, Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge, Gordon Ramsay, Thomasina Miers, Marcus Wareing and Giorgio Locatelli, alongside chefs at some of the UK’s most talked about restaurants - Robin Gill, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Elizabeth Haigh, Naved Nasir, Tommy Banks, Chantelle Nicholson, Clare Smyth, Ben Tish, Andrew Wong and Farokh Talati - for a recipe book that is as broad in scope as it is big in heart.
The book is split into three main chapters - breakfast and lunch, dinner, and dessert and bakes - with all but one chef contributing two recipes. The result is a book of 107 dishes hailing from places including India, Vietnam, France, Ireland, Thailand, China and England, some of which are takes on the classics and others been born out of lockdown, such as Ellis Barrie’s Barrie baked beans with treacle bread; and Angela Hartnett’s bacon and fried egg bun that was prepared for the team when cooking meals for the NHS.
Cookbooks from multiple chefs of different backgrounds and cooking styles can often lack a sense of cohesion and purpose, yet Chefs at Home has a common thread (beyond the charitable one) that gives it true foodie appeal. While some dishes are obviously harder or more time-consuming to make than others - Tom Brown’s breakfast selection and Heston’s main course being two example - all are hearty, unpretentious everyday dishes that would work equally well as a midweek meal or for a more special occasion given the pedigree of the contributors.
Chefs notoriously don’t eat well at home given their working hours in their restaurant kitchens and had Chefs at Home been published a few years earlier it more likely would have included recipes for a cheese sandwich and a Pot Noodle. The prolonged time off during lockdown, however, has changed all that - and this book neatly documents that change.
Number of pages: 253
Self-indulgence rating: ✪
Must try dish: Clare Smyth’s warm chocolate and lavender tart
Publishing date: 18 March
Publisher and price: Jon Croft Editions, £19.49