World-renowned chef, restaurateur and bestselling cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi discusses his passion for cooking, how “familiar” food makes people happy, and the best advice he gives to aspiring chefs.
On advice he gives to chefs and restaurateurs: “Many people come and ask me all about ideas for restaurants and food businesses…. The first thing I ask is: who is cooking?... So I see a lot of businesses that immediately – when I walk in the door – I know there’s actually no cook there. There’s people doing the cooking, but there’s nobody with a story, with an understanding of what the business stands for…. You want to get to the place through the food rather than just get someone’s business concept and set up for the food.”
On creating happiness through food: “So one of the ingredients for making people happy through food is… it makes them feel - it’s something that isn’t foreign. For very elaborate food - I’m not saying my recipes are easy or simple always…but the result is going to sit in the element of familiarity.”
On his latest bestselling cookbook Simple: “I didn’t just put simple on the cover without thinking about it a little bit. Because many cookbooks do have that simple or easy word on the cover….With this focus, we tried to understand what simple cooking means for the different people. I know from having conversations with cooks, is that they really have different expectations in cooking - like what’s easy for me is not necessarily easy for you and the other way around and so we took that challenge and we created a book that cooks simple food in simple ways.”