Q&A with Rosie Birkett

Eve O'Sullivan
22 May, 2015

We ask our authors ten questions about their life long love of food. This week, we speak to Rosie Birkett, author of A Lot on her Plate, about roast dinners, tuna tacos, and why you should never run your finger through hot caramel.

Rosie Birkett interview
What is your first memory of eating?

Around the kitchen table with my family as a child. Mum's roast dinners are totally legendary so those are what stick in my mind first and foremost, but I have very early memories of scavenging in our garden for cherries, plums and stealing vegetables from my dad's veg patch, like beautiful sweet peas in their pods.

What was the first dish you ever cooked by yourself?

It will have been an almost inedible stew of onion, leek, nettles and water cooked up over a campfire in our orchard with my sister and our neighbours. We also used to toast marshmallows, which were somewhat more palatable.

What dish do you associate most with your childhood?

Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. And cockles plucked from the beach on camping holidays in France then steamed open with lots of vinegar and white pepper.

What single ingredient can you attribute to a turning point in the way you cook?

Proper stock. Chicken, fish or beef - making stock takes time and practise but it adds so much depth and flavour to dishes, it's something that completely transformed my cooking. It showed me that going to the effort of doing things properly is the only way. 

To whom do you owe your love of food, and why?

To my mum, who's a fantastic home cook, and my father, who was a vociferous eater. 

As a cook, what has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in the kitchen?

Don't put your finger through the caramel. Making sure I eat during the day even if there's too much to do. I have a habit of almost passing out and then realising I've forgotten to sit down and chow down.

Aside from well-known accolades, what do you regard as your biggest achievement?

Making the transition from being a food writer to cooking. And building up a career as a food writer having been told I had more chance of winning the lottery.

What recipe are you most proud of?

My tuna tacos and salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake.

Rosie Birkett's tuna tacos             Rosie Birkett's popcorn cheesecake

If you could give one piece of advice to a keen home cook, what would it be?

Make the most of butchers and fish mongers - it all starts with the ingredients.

If you didn’t work in food, what would you do, and why?

I would probably have tried to act, so the world has been spared on that one.


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