There’s no author credit beyond Great British Chefs (GBC) on the jacket but in reality, Around the Table is the work of GBC’s recipe developer Pollyanna Coupland with contribution from a number of chefs from across the UK. Put together during the lockdowns of last year, the book references the various stages of the loosening of restrictions and the return to normality - the al fresco section inspired by the period that people could entertain only in their gardens - with the desire to cook for others again the inspiration for every recipe.
The book is split into seven chapters - small plates, sharing platters, al fresco, one pots, dinner party starters, dinner party mains, and make-ahead desserts - with the first seven recipes of each chapter coming courtesy of Coupland and the final three from other chefs. The roster of chosen chefs is eclectic, with contributions from the likes of Adam Bennet, Rohit Ghai, Masaki Sugisaki, Angel Zapata Martin, Stosie Madie, Roberta Hall-McCarron and Kerth Gumbs to name a few (a short biography accompanies every chef).
The loose narrative of the book means there’s plenty of styles of cuisines and dishes contained within the pages, with small plates ranging from battered cod’s cheeks with pea ketchup; and polenta-crushed halloumi with preserved lemon sauce; to crispy merguez-stuffed olives with chilli honey; and wild garlic malfatti; and one-pots ranging from risotto and hotpot to Punjabi chicken curry. In total there are 70 recipes hailing from places as diverse as Mexico, Japan, Italy, Spain, Indian and Lancashire.
The inclusions of the chefs add gravitas to the book, but Coupland has been clever with her dish selection so that her own dishes don’t appear any less cheffy than those of the contributors. The result is a book that encourages creativity without proving to be too taxing for the home chef.
Though created and inspired by the lockdowns, none of the contributors to Around the Table would like to see a return to those days. But should this ever happen, this is the book to help see it through.
Around the Table
Author: Great British Chefs
Number of pages: 190
Must try dish: Kerth Gumb’s honey-glazed quail with mixed seed scratchings and sriracha mayonnaise
Publisher and price: Food Publishing, £24.99