Editor’s note: I was in London a few weeks ago and a big hullabaloo broke out over a guy who criticized a top chef. I’ve always been sort of amazed by the fact that chef’s should become celebrities and so the abuse being heaped on this regular guy who likes food really hit me where it hurt. A young guy who likes food and wants to share that with strangers and friends and when he says something negative…gets the shit kicked out of him.
So, I offered him a column here. Please join me in welcoming James Isherwood, our newest food columnist on Vagobond.com . James will be sharing tips and ideas from the European Foodie Capital of the world each week here on Vagobond.com. So you can catch our New York Foodie in the morning and cross the Atlantic in the afternoon to see what is hot and happening in London. – Every Thursday! Welcome James!
Before I start my first column, I thought I should first introduce myself. My name is James Isherwood and up until a week ago, I was just someone who enjoyed writing the occasional restaurant review. I don’t want to talk too much about this as I’m sure you have heard all about it. If not, I’m sure a quick Google search will give you the full story. It is, however, very reassuring that people will not accept this kind of intimidation. This could all have been resolved if the chef in question had sent me a private DM.
Unfortunately, it escalated and got out of hand, but, I’m happy to say it’s slowly dying down now.
I admit, and hold my hands up, it does appear a little two faced that I didn’t say anything at the time. I just went into automatic pilot with the “Yes, it was fine” reply. Not many people in this country like to complain face to face (especially on a first date with the girl sitting across from you as the Chef asks you how everything is going). And because I had enjoyed my meal 95% of the time, it never entered my head to say anything.
So, now, here I am writing my very first column for Vagobond.com. I thought I’d keep it short and sweet and say a few words about someone who offered me his support last week.. I’d like to dedicate this to one of the good guys out there… Chef Nigel Slater.
In the world of fine-dining, shouty chefs, and Michelin starred restaurants, standing out from the crowd is Nigel Slater. Not a ‘chef’ but a ‘cook who writes’ and is currently on our screens every Friday presenting Nigel Slater’s Dish of the Day. Nigel’s approach is to simply see what he has and then to create a recipe from all the ingredients he has on hand.
This results in great food and something wonderful. No more left-overs! It also means his dishes are uncomplicated so you certainly won’t see a foam here, or a red wine jus there. Just good, delicious food.
I still have my dad’s copy of Nigel Slater’s Real Food. It’s a bit bruised and battered now, but I still sometimes use the recipes from the book, such as the onion gravy. Nigel was my dad’s favorite cook, and recently I followed Nigel on Twitter and have since spoken to him a few times online..he comes across as a genuinely nice person.
My dad is no longer with us, but it’s times like this when I am in contact With Nigel, that I wish he was. He’d like that. I’m sure of it.
It was good to see the BBC feature Nigel in the recent documentary on sweets and cakes. Nigel took us all on a personal journey of what sweets meant to him when he was younger. It’s Nigel’s relaxed narration that’s never over-bearing, this is what makes it so enjoyable to watch.
And of course I’m sure that all of us male viewers are grateful to Nigel for introducing us to Nigella Lawson! She was a guest way back in the early days making regular appearances on Nigel Slater’s Real Food.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say a bad word about Nigel… to me, that’s all the proof necessary to show that you don’t need a massive overblown ego to cook great food. Most cooks already seem to understand that intuitively, but of course, some of them are noticeably confused about whether their job is to make great food or be celebrities. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll come around.