In my student years cooking meant beans on toast or pot noodle or a kebab if you were flush. How times change.
The advent of celebrity cooks and the evolution of media along with cheaper, more available products means the Great British culinary tradition is alive and more well than ever.
It was at college that Ben Ebbrell and Barry Taylor first came up with a plan for a student cook book. It started in the pub (well, naturally) with a few recipes written down on a beer mat. Post pub cooking experiments followed (always fun) and the prototype cookbook was drawn up.
It was a far from exclusive club, they invited everybody to join their crew, anybody who could cook, or thought they could, or wanted to learn, or just the curious. Suddenly dozens of kitchen virgins became budding cooks overnight. And all this just from a little energy and enthusiasm.
They got together with designers, photographers, writers and media representatives and came up with the beautifully designed Sorted Cookbook.
And their skills don’t stop at main courses, they do mouth watering desserts and vodka jellies too. In short these guys and girls have some serious skills and they are the future of the British food industry.
Most recently they got a big thumbs up from Raymond Blanc, who was quoted as saying:
“Encouraging young people to enjoy and appreciate food is a personal passion. I am delighted to support this book, it is full of great recipes for students to start their culinary adventure.”
So I had a few questions for Mr Ebbrell and the gang.
What is the secret to your popularity?
It’s difficult to say why people enjoy watching our videos and using our cookbooks so much. But we believe it’s because we strip away any nonsense and just deliver the bits you need without all the fuss. It’s all pretty raw, honest and light-hearted too, dotted with jokes, innuendoes and banter. We have a lot of fun making SORTED and I reckon that comes across on screen and in the images of the book.
Was some of your initial cookery experiments alcohol fuelled?
Cooking for myself as a chef is a profession, so obviously I steer clear of alcohol in proper kitchens. But the beautiful thing about SORTED and when I cook with the rest of the crew is that it is heavily focussed on everyday life and social occasions. It goes without saying that many of these have had the odd beer or two to get things going. Have you seen our chicken quesadilla party food (www.sortedfood.com/chickenquesadilla) or our adult, alcohol-fuelled jellies (www.sortedfood.com/adultjelly)?
Have you entered any cookery contests?
SORTED isn’t really about competing or showing off. Instead we open our arms to all young novice cooks. It’s more about sharing and all getting stuck in to create a lot of fun in the kitchen with mates. Having said that, personally I did enter a competition on the GoodFood Channel’s ‘Market Kitchen’ last year. It was a talent search competition looking to find a new TV chef and after a week of gruelling food based tasks and presenting I came out on top. http://uktv.co.uk/food/chef/aid/613549
Have any of your team gone on to work in any famous restaurants?
What you may have noticed about our recipe videos and profiles on our website is that essentially we’re just a bunch of old school mates. I’m the only chef involved but that is great proof that you don’t need an armoury of skills and dedication to knock up some really tasty grub. What you do need is an enthusiasm to experiment, try stuff out and have a few laughs in the kitchen. The rest is easy. So no, I’m the only one who’s worked in top restaurants, hotels and cooked for the occasional celebrity but that doesn’t mean that as a crew we don’t know how to churn our meal after meal of quick, simple, tasty grub heavily seasoned with banter!
Who are your cooking heroes?
I’m a big fan of chefs who cook from the heart. Using basic, fresh everyday ingredients and not having to do too much with them to create stunningly simple food. Rick Stein, James Martin and Jamie Oliver all do this so well. I can only hope that some of SORTED’s recipe will give them a run for their money too. What do you reckon?
Does cooking improve your chances of getting a hot woman?
Being able to throw together an impressive meal for that special someone is always a handy skill to have up your sleeve. And it doesn’t have to be as tricky as the end result may suggest. A few simple ideas cooked up with some personal flair and charisma is all you should need to blow the socks off of your hot date! How about trying our vanilla panacotta to seal the deal at the end of meal? (www.sortedfood.com/vanillapanacotta)
So if all this has whetted your appetite then check out Ben and his gang at: