“I love Allegra’s cooking. Like her, it’s bold and brassy, full of attitude and flavour. I love her writing too. It folds her cookery deftly into real life – where of course it belongs. And it’s full of handy, confidence-boosting tips that make everything feel doable. Who wouldn’t want to spend time at her big, beautiful table?” Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
A spirited and engaging family cookbook from renowned chef and bestselling food writer Allegra McEvedy.
Allegra McEvedy is one of the strongest voices in food writing, and this much anticipated, beautiful, heartfelt book is a personal love letter through food both to her beloved mother, who died when Allegra was 17, and to her own daughter, Delilah, currently aged 3.
When her mother died, Allegra took huge comfort in her mother’s scrapbook of lovingly collected recipes. Made up of cut outs from newspapers and magazines, with helpful notes and recipes in her distinctive scrawl, the tatty orange photo album was the source of many happy family meals and memories. To Allegra, this book became a deeply symbolic embodiment of their relationship; cooking was a love she shared with her mother, a link between them. Simply put, for many years this scrapbook was the first thing Allegra would grab if the house were on fire. Then, through no fault of Allegra’s, this treasured book was tragically and shockingly lost, and with it all that remained of her mother’s food legacy, other than that which lived in her memory.
When Allegra became a mother herself, thoughts of her mum’s lost cookbook kept coming back to her, and she decided to build her own culinary legacy for her toddling child. Big Table Busy Kitchen is that book; an extraordinary cookbook both for her daughter and for every family, designed to invite them in for a lifetime of memorable cooking and eating. It is the ultimate celebration of food, home, love and life.
This is a chronological journey through life’s watershed stages in 200 glorious recipes, from first bakes to first loves, feeding the family to feeding your friends, compulsory veg to nursery puddings and everything in between. With recipes that are as achievable and tempting as they are inventive and engaging, accompanied by stunning photographs, vibrant page design and bright, bold hand-drawn illustrations, Big Table, Busy
Kitchen comes straight from the heart and is everything a family cookbook should be.
In addition to the recipes she’s come up with just for Delilah, Allegra shares her childhood
food memories and revisits some of her mother’s recipes, tweaking them with her chef’s
instinct where needed, as she does with Toad in the Hole with Cidery Onions. Allegra’s
recipes fi t modern life, embracing and encouraging a wider take on what ‘family’ means
in this age, such as with Gingerbread Families for our Times. “The multi-racial, multicultural, LGBT figures that lay all over our kitchen table drew such delighted bellygiggles from Delilah that it provoked a slightly confusing cross-generational moment,
which made me want to be the child again”.
The book also has side-notes on what Allegra considers to be crucial motherly advice, from her ten-point guide to cooking spot-on steak, to 25 years of hard-learned tips on how to cure a hangover. Big Table, Busy Kitchen is a book for life, a fun and exquisitely beautiful present for any new parent, new student, new couple, new family, or just for yourself, and is the perfect starter kit for your own family food legacy.
Described by the Independent as, “a caterer with a conscience”, Allegra McEvedy has been cooking professionally for over 20 years. working her way through a clutch of London’s best restaurants (The Groucho Club, The River Café, The Belvedere) culminating in her getting her first Head Chef job at 24. She then went off to cook in the States, where she spent time in San Francisco and ran the kitchen at Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Grill in New York. She came back and opened The Good Cook in a community centre in Notting Hill, The Tabernacle, where she honed the philosophy that she has lived and worked by ever since: that there are more ways for a chef to make a difference than by winning Michelin stars, and good food should be available to everybody.
In 2004 Allegra co-founded the award-winning healthy fast food restaurant group LEON, in which she remains a shareholder. Allegra co-presented Economy Gastronomy, a six-part BBC prime-time series about planning ahead, shopping well, spending less and using ingredients wisely, and has worked extensively with Good Food Channel, co-presenting Matt and Allegra’s Big Farm in 2011 then Allegra’s Turkish Delights in Autumn 2012.
She was The Guardian’s Chef in residence for three years and is still a regular contributor,
pioneering quarterly “cookalongs”, the internet’s first live, interactive and illustrated cooking class.
She enjoys radio, has a seasonal food slot on Robert Elms’ show for BBC London and is a regular on Radio 4.
Allegra is patron of the Fairtrade Foundation, The Food Chain (a charity that delivers hot meals to people with HIV and AIDS) and The London Gay Symphony Orchestra, as well as a Fellow of the RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and a spokesperson for Compassion in World Farming.
In 2008 she was awarded the MBE for services to the hospitality industry, with the citation of promoting healthier eating and ethical sourcing in the UK.
Big Table, Busy Kitchen is Allegra’s 6th and biggest book.
She lives in West London with her daughter.
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th NOVEMBER 2013