We’re lucky enough to work with four fantastic Chef Ambassadors, and this month we’ve asked them to take some time out of their kitchens, so that we can quiz them on some of their best holiday and food memories.
Their stories give a wonderful insight into the inspiration for their cooking styles, recipes they always come back to, and not least, highlight places that we now can’t wait to visit…..we’re packing our bags!
This week’s interview is with Jo Pratt, weekly posts to come with Sophie Michell, Gee Charman & Caroline Artiss.
Which country would you say was your strongest influence in cooking?
I’m lucky to have worked in the food industry in the UK with so many different chefs and therefore influences over the years, I can’t imagine anywhere better to be. We have everything and I’m always learning new things. I love the fusion of different cuisines, so I couldn’t put my finger on just one.
If you could travel to cook in any country for a year, where would it be?
I would probably go for India. I haven’t been there before and I’d love to have a chance to cook with the locals, learning about authentic recipes and how to really appreciate all of the spices and other amazing ingredients.
What’s your favourite childhood holiday memory?
We spent many holidays in the South of France. I loved picking fresh cherries and apricots from trees and walking around food markets with my mouth watering, looking at a vast array of fish, meats, cakes, cheeses, olives, fruit, veg and so-on. Having everything in one place was something we didn’t have where I grew up in the UK, so that was pretty special and I suppose, educational.
Where’s your favourite place to travel?
I once went on a holiday where we sky dived, swam with Great Whites, bungee jumped, went on bush walks, saw the Big Five, visited some of the world’s most best vineyards, ate in incredible restaurants and all in just two weeks! We also came back home with change! So, I’d have to say South Africa, we loved it.
If you could fly anywhere in the world for a day, where would it be?
Japan. I’m told it’s a Michelin Star paradise, so visiting some top restaurants and seeing the bright lights would be a good day in my book.
What’s your favourite cookery book?
I have so many, it’s hard to say. One I’ve recently been looking over that my mum has handed on to me is a Marguerite Pattern menu making book. Sadly the great Home Economist has recently passed away. She was a big inspiration to me when I started in the food business.
If you had to cook one dish, what would it be & why?
Paella. It makes me think of being on warm sunny holidays every time, and there are so many different variations, it’s a dish that never gets boring. I love sitting around a big pan of it with friends – it’s ideal when you’re entertaining as it never fails to wow people.
If you had to choose one country to move to, where would it be?
Italy – amazing food, wine, architecture, fashion, culture, people and weather, including easy access to some skiing in the winter – perfect!
What’s your best food memory from a holiday?
About 15 years ago, having a 10 course tasting menu at Quartier Français in Franschhoek, South Africa. We were grads at the time, so something similar in the UK was not possible and the exchange rate at the time in South Africa, meant we were millionaires for two weeks, so we ate like royalty. It was a great location, incredible creative courses and delicious wine to match. Amazing!
Who was your main chef / cooking influence when you were growing up?
As well as Marguerite Pattern, it would be Delia Smith. I would watch her TV shows and then pretend to be her making up my own recipes. I thought she was great at making cooking look achievable. As I became older it was Gary Rhodes, who I eventually ended up working with for almost 10 years. I worked on his books, shows, tours – you name it. It was a 10 year course of how to cook with one of the best chefs in the UK. He had great energy and ambition and helped me what I have become today.