All books need to tell a great story, even cookbooks. Food is all about memories, emotions and connections. It makes us happy, brings people together and even changes lives. And that’s certainly true of Kerryann Dunlop, one of the Food Tube stars offered the chance to publish their own Family Cook book with Penguin.
As one of the original 15 apprentices at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, the only thing more obvious than her exceptionally ballsy approach to life was her talent in the kitchen. She went from a poor background and limited prospects to a fully qualified chef and a job at the exclusive Baker & Spice café and bakery. But a few years later she gave it all up for her kids.
For some that might seem like the end of a career. However, that’s where the story of Kerryann’s book begins. Kerryann learnt a lot at Fifteen, but her love of food comes from a source much closer to home, and that’s the inspiration behind her Family Cook Book, which came out yesterday.
“I’ve always loved cooking. I’d always be in the kitchen, looking at what my Mum and Nan were cooking, and it’s from them that I learnt how to cook. A lot of the recipes in this book are versions of my Mum’s and Nan’s, who passed down their knowledge to me.”
Kerryann’s book is full of the kind of recipes that families are crying out for. There are 50 classic recipes, each with a little twist that makes them special to Kerryann – from Chilli con veggie to Turkish-style couscous, and one of her all-time favourites, Cheesy potato pie with pimped-up baked beans. All quick, easy and delicious dishes that are perfect for kids.
That may sound like a bit ask, but as Jamie has always said, a little knowledge goes a long way. Knowing a few dishes can set you up for life, as you experiment with those recipes to make them your own, or branch out with new ideas and flavours. All the time you can rest assured you know exactly what is going into your meals because you cooked them, and you’ll keep a lid on costs too.
“Since having kids, my cooking has become much more family orientated – I don’t want them to eat ready-meals and processed food, I want to feed them like my Mum fed me. I grew up on good home-cooked food and it was my Mum and Nan who showed me that it’s more than possible to make good food on a budget.”
With Jamie’s latest book, Save With Jamie, being all about saving money without compromising on flavour or nutrition, Kerryann’s new style is right up his street. The fact that such lovely recipes come from someone brought up in a home full of good, home-cooked food backs up his argument that teaching kids to cook is the best way to combat obesity. Being part of Jamie’s world has kept Kerryann’s childhood dream of being a professional chef alive – now culminating in her first ever book. Since quitting the commercial kitchens she’s appeared in lots of Jamie’s shows, including Jamie’s School Dinners and Jamie & Jimmy’s Food Fight.
“As a child, I was obsessed with watching cookery programmes on the TV and, from a young age, Delia Smith was my favourite but as I got older, Jamie took over. He was young and always excited about what he was doing, which made him really easy to relate to.
“He is just an amazing bank of knowledge, and his passion for food and what he does is so contagious. He’s never been unable to answer any question I’ve asked him, and he always explains things in such a way that’s impossible not to understand. He is a perfect teacher.”
So if Jamie never inspired you, it’s now time for Kerryann to have a go. You can buy her book here.