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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shaun Hill is one of my heroes..., 30 July 2008
This review is from: Better Gravy: and Other Kitchen Secrets (Paperback)
Shaun Hill is one of my heroes. One of the new wave British chefs to surface in the 1980s, my worshipping dates back to when I first ate his food - and in case you follow such things it was at Gidleigh Park at least 25 years ago and yes, it included his "signature" scallops and lentils that has since been copied by a thousand chefs. I remember the moment - that first bite and I knew I had my knees under the table of a master.

What struck me then - and remains true to this day - was the clarity and integrity of Shaun's cooking. You'll find great flavours, some bold, others understated but they always work. Unlike many chefs, his food is appropriate, never over the top and what you actually want to eat.

All this leads to Better Gravy and Other Kitchen Secrets - Shaun's new book. To be a good cook and particularly one that makes everything seem deceptively simple, there's no denying you need some basic skills: good cooking technique, an understanding of which cooking methods best suit which ingredients and a knowledge of how those ingredients work together. Shaun, a master of more than just these basic skills, proceeds to share his knowledge.

As he writes, "the objectives for home and restaurant cooks are the same: a balanced and pleasurable meal. And the lessons to learn are equally important in both kitchens: good shopping followed by careful preparation and heartfelt cooking." As "balance is the key" its importance is stressed throughout the book.

It's debatable whether a thorough study of Better Gravy will actually teach you to plan a meal, let alone cook it, on a level with Shaun but it's worth a try. First arm yourself with by reading the various introductions that cover such diverse topics as Timing and Preparation to Mechanical Gadgets or Taste and Smell. Then plunge into Ingredients and Techniques..........and you're launched.

The recipes are, frankly, gorgeous; the temptation is to try them and I suspect that over the coming few months, I will. FoodLovers has chosen Steamed Chicken with Parsley Stuffing and Figs with Orange and Banyuls Sabayon, but you will want to try more, so treat yourself to your own copy. It's guaranteed to become indispensable, a must-have for every kitchen bookshelf.
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