I’m thrilled to welcome Chef Larry Edwards to this Divine Inquisition. Oops, I mean this Divine Interview.
Larry is an internationally acclaimed chef and culinary writer and the author of the bestselling cookbooks, ‘Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals.’ The Downton Abbey bit is intriguing and I have a secret to confess. I’ve never watched the series, although after seeing this all from Larry, I think I might have to make it a future goal.
As the founder and executive Chef at Casa de Cuisine, Larry Edwards has brought his style to the world via his internationally syndicated columns and features.
As is our habit, we like to start the interview with the ‘getting to know’ questions, for a bit of fun. So Larry was kind enough to tell us a bit more about himself.
Can you tell us two items on your bucket list, if you have one?
First, I would love to live in Taiwan for a year or so. I am enamored by their culture and food and find the people friendly and inspiring. Secondly, spend a considerable amount of time traversing Africa working with environmental organizations.
If you could go back in time to change one thing what would it be?
That is a tough one as I am not one who tends to look back. In my personal life, I wouldn’t change anything. In my professional life, learn to live a more stress-free life.
What is your most essential appliance?
The food processor. There are times I am just too damn lazy to chop, mince or slice.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
Meryl Streep! The lady can play anyone.
What horror fiction character scares you the most?
Pennywise, the clown from Stephen King’s It. One of the greatest characters ever created in the realm of fiction.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
Insects! Actually, they’re not too bad when prepared properly. You don’t really taste the insect, just the spices they were fried in. I do, however, draw the line at spiders. Nope, not eating a spider.
Okay, fun over. Now down to the serious questions.
We have to ask. What’s with the fascination with Edwardian cooking and Downton Abbey in particular? It’s unique, basing recipes on a treasured TV show so how did this come about?
Many trained chefs are also culinary historians. I have always found the Victorian and Edwardian era to be fascinating. When someone told me the television show featured the food from that era, I had to watch. Like millions, I became hooked and due to the huge worldwide popularity of the series, I felt a cookbook would be a welcome addition.
You’re passionate about this era of cooking and obviously, a lot of research must have gone into putting together the recipes for the time. How did you do this- tell us a bit about your research process?
The research was the easy part. I was trained in Europe and many of the dishes prepared during the era Downton Abbey takes place, we learned to cook. The more difficult part was adapting those dishes for today’s modern kitchen. It should be noted that the dishes we feature in the Downton cookbook are authentic, as opposed to the few others which have been released after ours.
You mention in your Twitter profile that you’re a Buddhist. If you don’t mind, can you tell us what drew you to this discipline and how it might affect your culinary processes?
I was drawn to Buddhism because it seemed like people I knew who were Buddhist always seemed at ease and peace with themselves and their surroundings. Once I began to venture into it, I began to feel more at one with myself. I guess the most important way it changed my views on the culinary arts is that it urged me to become more original and gave me the faith to go where my heart leads me.
The picture food which showcases your food is tantalisingly delicious. In your opinion, what matters most- taste, texture, originality or presentation? Or is it all of these combined? If so, what’s the overriding attribute for you personally?
We first eat with our eyes. When you see a dish that looks wonderful, you want to eat it. Secondly, the secret to any dish is the combination of taste & texture. When we are creating a dish, the first thing I work on is the marriage a flavors (ingredients). Then we take into consideration the combined textures and how it will feel in the mouth. Once we have those two, we work on the preparation process. The final step is the presentation. If I can grab your eye, I know I can win your mouth.
Do you get to travel a lot around the world soaking up other countries’ culinary influences and if so, what’s the furthest you’ve gone on your travels to seek great food inspiration?
In 2017 we have two new cookbooks being released worldwide. The first, on September 12 is called Style & Spice. The second, released worldwide on October 10, is called The American Table. Both books feature food considered to be “American,” although Style & Spice has a lot of Mexican and Latino inspired dishes. Due to the subject of these books, most of my traveling the past few years has been throughout America and especially in the American southwest. When I do have time to travel, the places I enjoy the most are Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. Since we might be working on a project soon featuring island cuisine, I might be venturing to sand, surf and rum countries!
What’s the toughest part about being a chef, and cooking and what advice would you give to someone starting out in this industry?
The advice I always give to people wanting to get into this business is simple. Be prepared to never have a day off, never celebrate a holiday and look forward to eighteen hour days. If you do not have a burning passion, you will fail. As a chef, you create not only food, you create memories.
The Chef’s future projects
As he ventures into 2017, the Chef has two new cookbooks being released internationally. Style & Spice will be released on September 12 and The American Table will be released on October 10.
In 2018, the Chef will having a new series featuring the world’s best breads and launching a new series cookbooks coming from his famed Rock ‘N’ Roll Kitchens.
Where to find Larry and his books
Divine thought this little Downton Abbey video would fit the mood
Thanks so much to the Chef for coming along and sharing his ideas and passion with us. We wish him all the best for 2017.