have always seemed to find myself by accident or design,
in a kitchen. As the youngest child of a farming family
in Cornwall I was always the one helping my mother make
butter, bread and of course pasties. As a teenager in school
we were allowed to chose between metalwork or domestic science,
as the former was taught by a notorious sadist and the later
was full of girls it seemed a no brainer, though I was the
only boy in the cooking class.
getting a degree at Bristol University, like many a stary
eyed youth I decided that the life of rock and roll was
the one for me but even here found myself organising the
catering for music festivals like WOMAD and Young CND. After
a while it was obvious that the music industry while it
makes some very rich indeed it wasn't going to do much for
me and so I applied to work on the management team of a
small chain of restaurants, Huffs of London. I soon found
that when one of the Chefs called in sick, hung over or
had a new girl or boy friend I was the one left holding
the fort or baking tray. By the time I left I was making
and cooking hundreds of croissant and Danish pastries every
morning before the rest of the staff arrived.
changed when I met Sarah Miatt who used to work occasionally
in the kitchens to pay for her studio in Wapping, after
being together for a year we decided we wanted to get married
and have children but both felt the big city wasn't the
best place to raise a family, so the week after our wedding
we moved to Italy.
family is very well known in the horse world having broken
and trained a number of Olympic competitors and so my first
employment in Italy was as a riding instructor and by chance
the club I taught at was based at a lovely farm near Orvieto
called La Cacciata that was also the place where Alister
Little held his cooking courses, we became friends and I
learnt a lot not just about food but also how to run an
enjoyable cooking holiday. Alister no longer teaches at
the farm but still gets the olive oil shipped over to sell
in his west London shop.
I moved out of the horse business and into cooking holidays,
at first the agencies would hire me as a guide and translator
but soon found that given I knew as much as the Chef it
was cheaper to employ just one of us. This led on to me
catering for weddings then for conferences and even Italian
political leaders, aristocrats and industrialists. It is
a great compliment but I must be one of the very few Englishmen
to be paid by Italians to cook for Italians. At times when
the host in some splendid Tuscan villa is complimented on
the food, I have to be pulled out of the kitchen to prove
to the guest that the Chef was truly English.
am very interested in both the history and science of cooking
which has led me to be invited to teach in England, France
and the USA both to amateurs and professional Chefs. I also
teach the University of Alberta Alumni annually on "Italian
cuisine in it's historical and cultural context".
I am also assisted by my 19 year old daughter Lizzy who,
born in Italy, is bi-lingual and a great help both in the
kitchen and as a guide.