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Kingdom of Cooks, my new eBook

Andy Lynes

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(I haven't posted here in a while so I hope that starting a new topic about my own work will be acceptable but I really think the book will be of interest to eGullet.org members).  
I spent part of 2014 travelling the UK talking to chefs and eating in their restaurants. I feel strongly that now is the most exciting time in British cuisine since the modern British movement of the late 80's and I wanted to document the moment somehow. The result is Kingdom of Cooks, an eBook of extended, in depth interviews with some of Britain's most talented and interesting cooks including Mary-Ellen McTague (Aumbry, Manchester), Neil Rankin (The Smokehouse, London) and Gary Usher (Sticky Walnut, Chester). They are not household names but all have received recognition in the shape of positive reviews or guide book awards, some have appeared on television or written magazine columns or even had a cookbook published in the case of the Pennington brothers at The Ethicurean in Bristol.  The book also includes an interview with the far more established Simon Rogan of L'Enclume and Fera restaurants as a 'godfather' figure, someone whose name came up again and again in conversation as an inspirational figure and whose naturalistic style and use of organic and wild produce was reflected in the cooking of many of the chefs included in the book. 
The criteria for inclusion in the book was that the chef would either be in their first head chef position or have opened their first restaurant. I tried to cover as wide a geographical spread as possible and limited the London based chefs to just two out of the 14 interviewed. The idea was to identify a new generation of chefs who had worked for established figures like Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay but had gone on to do their own thing. Although there are a wide variety of establishments and styles represented in the book from neighbourhood bistro (Sticky Walnut) to smart city centre restaurant (Timberyard in Edinburgh), themes began to emerge from the interviews, partly to do with shared techniques like pickling and fermenting and the use of home grown or foraged ingredients, but also what amounts to the search for a national culinary identity, undoubtedly inspired by new Nordic food but not a slavish imitation of it.
I chose the long form interview format for the book because I wanted to allow the chefs to speak for themselves as much as possible with as little editorial interruption from me (although the many recorded hours of conversation took laborious transcribing and then very careful and extensive editing to render them readable - excising repetitions, sentence fragments and the like and organising the questions and answers into a flowing narrative in contrast to the interviews themselves that leaped from subject to subject and fired off on countless tangents). I also wanted to give the reader the impression they were eavesdropping in on a conversation they might not otherwise have access to.
I hope if you read the book that you enjoy it and I'd love to hear any feedback you may have. 


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