Bringing Cookbooks Back To Life

Celebrity TV chefs to local cookery writers at the Chiswick Cookbook Festival


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It is commonly said that while we have a passion for collecting cookery books in this country, we tend to stick to the same half a dozen dishes for dinner, many of them quickly downloaded from the internet as we try to get dinner done and dusted as quickly as possible.

The Cookbook Festival, possibly the first of its kind, which runs alongside the Chiswick Book Festival from 12-16 September, aims to change that, and puts the emphasis on cookbooks coming back to life.

poster of cook books

"It's a totally new and refreshing festival for anyone who loves cookbooks and the world of food and drink", says organiser Lucy Cufflin, of Ginger Whisk. The idea for the cookbook festival arose out of a conversation between Lucy and cookery writer Jo Pratt last year.

"We were just chatting as we were both involved in the Chiswick Book Festival and saying how difficult it is to sell cookbooks these days because people now tend to google recipes. But the experience is completely different, you can open a book and you get diverted and you can end up cooking something completely different.

lucy cufflin cook
Lucy Cufflin

"It's a bit like the difference between going to a supermarket or doing a shop online, you don't tend to be seduced in the same way when you're doing an online shop as when you're having a wander in the supermarket and something catches your eye and you buy it.

"It think it would be a great shame if people stop buying cookbooks because with a book you get to know the author, so we said to each other, wouldn't it be great if we could bring books alive and entice people back into buying books, and they have much more longevity than looking up recipes online.

"So after that we spoke to Torin Douglas and he supported us hugely and we gathered together our friends and contacts to form a committee of cookbook authors, professional chefs, food editors and PR people , all women by the way, and it grew from there. We have been thrilled with the people who are coming to this first festival hope it will grow and grow."

jo pratt

Jo Pratt (pictured above) says says that there are so many book festivals which incorporate cook books and there are lots of food festivals but " we felt in Chiswick and west London we are such massive food fans, with farmers markets, independent shops and restaurants, that it seemed an ideal place to start a festival.

"I have now written eight books, I really love doing and it's nice to share a recipe in a cookbook,but in real life people can't always get to these huge food festivals, so this is a way to bring it to a local area and maybe one day it might be a national event.

"There has been a really positive response from local people and they know us as locals and the venues are quite personal so people can ask questions and not be intimidated . It's a really good opportunity for people to actually get up close to writers and cooks that they really admire.

Jo also does cookery classes and says it is really important to get younger people and children interested in the 'hands on' approach to cooking.

"Workshops are great, not everyone wants to see a demo and they often want to get hands on and have a go themselves. All the skills like learning how to hold and use a knife, to get a chance to touch different kinds of food, it can inspire people and if it does then that's a box ticked in my view."

john torode

The festival includes a line up of world-renowned chefs such as John Torode, pictured above) Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella), Melissa Hemsley, Jack Monroe with City Harvest, Jo Pratt, Niki Segnit (The Flavour Thesaurus), Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi from La Cucina Caldesi, Silla Bjerrum and Mallika Basu amongst others.

Throughout the festival, they will be discussing their published work, food and culinary experience. alongside tastings prepared by very experienced chefs. You can read about the individual events here.

Tickets can be purchased here through the Chiswick Book Festival system.

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September 2, 2018

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