However, owning a cookbook and using a cookbook are two very different things. A shocking 40% of our cookbooks lie on shelves unused. More importantly, the majority of us (54%) say we refer to those cookbooks that we do use only once a month. So why are they not loved more often?
A lot of unwanted cookbooks are given as gifts for Christmas. The chief reasons for avoiding them is usually the complex nature of the recipes. Other excuses include expensive ingredients, difficult to source ingredients, and lack of time. Confusing terminology and prevalence of French terms in cookbooks are also turnoffs for the Great British public.
Topping the list of culprits who write cookbooks with complex recipes are a number of London restaurant owners and celebrity chefs, such as Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay. On the other end of the scale, user-friendly cookbooks are written by the likes of Jamie Oliver.
I was recently invited to the launch new cookbook Tapas Revolution written by London chef, Omar Allibhoy (pictured above), owner of the London tapas restaurant of the same name. If you haven't heard of Omar, he's “The Antonio Banderas of cooking", according to the aforementioned Chef Ramsay.
This cookbook is definitely of the user friendly variety, containing 120 recipes from simple tapas - like fried Padrón peppers that takes 2 minutes to make - to braised pork cheeks that can take almost 4 hours to prepare and cook. The increasingly cosmopolitan British public loves sharing dishes. Snacking away and sharing small plates whilst chatting with friends is now a national sport.
Clearly, a USP is the key to success when it comes to cookbooks. Other London restaurats to have made it big on the publishing scene include:
- Martin Morales's Ceviche, Peruvian Kitchen. In addition to the unusual recipes from Peru, the tactile cover reminds readers of their hit restaurant in Soho.
- Pitt Cue Co. - any cookbook that can turn barbeque into an art form is certain to be a hit, especially given the spectacularly warm summer we had this year.
- Russell Norman has been the darling of the London restaurant scene since opening Polpo back in 2009. His cookbook Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) is racking up big sales numbers largely from adoring fans who want to copy the bàcaro style of cooking.
- Out this month is Comptoir Libanais: A Feast of Lebanese-Style Home Cooking by Tony Kitous who has brought glamour to Lebanese cuisine in London with his chain of restaurants as well as Levant, Pasha and Kenza.
It tends to be the restaurants with cult followings that earn the book deals; hence we've had other prominent cookbook launches in 2013 from Vivek Singh at the Cinnamon Club, from Salt Yard, and from celebrity chefs like Rick Stein, Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver.
Why do chefs fall over themselves to publish their cookbooks? The answer: it's a calling card, a sign that they've arrived. Judging by Omar Allibhoy's cookbook, he's most definitely arrived.
Have to discovered any interesting cookbooks this year? Share your thoughts in the Facebook comments box below.
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