The Resident catches up with Ed Smith, Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2022 Cookery Book winner about his favourite London restaurants, and his award-winning book Crave…
Crave is a creative collection of recipes arranged by their flavour profiles, and looks into why we crave the foods we do based on the seasons and our mood, so we can fix our hunger with something that really hits the spot, as Ed explains below.
How did the idea for Crave come about?
There are so many (great) recipes and cookbooks at our fingertips. But I think that probably means there’s too much choice … and either deciding what to cook is overwhelming and we end up cooking nothing new, or we fixate on recipes that, at that particular moment, aren’t quite right.
I figured it would be useful to put together a collection of recipes to quickly sate subjective cravings. So Crave is a cookbook with six flavour profiles that I think cover most moments: Fresh and Fragrant; Tart and Sour; Chilli and Heat; Spiced and Curried; Rich and Savoury; Cheesy and Creamy.
What’s one of your favourite recipes in the book and why?
Loads of favourites in there! But over two years-on from having written Crave, I still frequently return to the Sriracha and lemon linguine with chilli pangrattato. It’s quick, it’s cheap, it’s more-ish, and most importantly for the flavour profile it sits within (Chilli and Heat), it packs a punch.
Ed Smith wins at the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images/Fortnum & Mason
Crave by Ed Smith, Quadrille Publishing. Photo: Quadrille Publishing
What flavour profiles do you regularly crave and how do you satiate them?
I do often turn to that Chilli and Heat section. Seems to be in response to lots of differing inputs: to add a bit of spark and interest; to remind me of travel; sometimes when it’s really hot, sometimes when it’s really cold. The Tart and Sour section is a bit of a go-to for me to, probably for similar reasons. And Cheesy and Creamy in colder months, obvs.
Your previous cookbook The Borough Market Cookbook had a focus on seasonality. Is there any connection between seasonality and what foods we crave?
Seasonal ingredients are always a prompt for what I want to eat (and tend to ensure what you’re eating tastes great), as are the conditions outside. But that latter thing was also a reason to offer Crave as something different to the established spring, summer, autumn, winter cookbook format.
Climate change is blurring the seasons, and I think weather has a bigger impact than season on what you fancy eating. We get blue sky cheer one day, and then the next it’s cold and wet, so I felt cutting to the chase and organising by flavour craving (whatever the weather or season) was a smart thing to do.
Where are some of your favourite restaurants and foodie haunts in London and why?
I like great cooking, good people, professional but relaxed service, a natural charm. I don’t chase brand new places these days, preferring to return to places like The Quality Chop House, Black Axe Mangal, Towpath, Smoking Goat, Lyles, Bocca di Lupo. But recently I thought Lisboeta was superb, Sessions Arts Club lived up to the hype, and Parrillan Borough Yards, too.
What would be your desert island dish, from a London restaurant, and why?
Tricky. Maybe lamb offal flatbread from Black Axe Mangal as I’m unlikely to find the ingredients for that while beach-combing, so wouldn’t get to cook it for myself.
Crave by Ed Smith is published by Quadrille Publishing and available now.