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>> Rick Stein OBE has written 19 cookery books, made 15 cookery TV series, owns six restaurants in the UK, and Bannisters in New South Wales, Australia, is a joint venture. He has cooked for the Queen and Prince Philip, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and French president, Jacques Chirac. His latest TV series, Rick Stein's India, sees him on an Indian odyssey, in search of the perfect curry. Did he find it?

Is there a foreign cuisine or dish that you tried early on in your career that might well have given you the bug for your overseas cooking odysseys in recent years?
Goan fish curries - particularly prawn and green chilli curry and mackerel stuffed with Kashmiri chillies, garlic, ginger, and spices - which I fi rst tasted in 1982.

What prompted you to explore Indian cooking and culture and did you enjoy it as much as you hoped to, professionally?
A lifelong love of curries here in Britain, coupled with a realisation that curry is one of the nation’s favourite foods and that a TV series and book written by an Englishman might be well received in the UK.

On your travels through India, you met chefs, home cooks and street vendor - what differences did you observe between the approaches at these different levels, and what did they share?
Generally I preferred the cooking of the home cooks to the restaurant cooks, as the dishes are more adaptable to cooking back in the UK. Street food is in a different category because it’s all about speed and simplicity so that dishes can be cooked and served in minute spaces.

With aspiring head chefs in mind, when you are head chef, what are your three top secrets
1. You have to impress on everyone that your style and recipes are what you want, not other people's interpretations of them.
2. Delegate as much as you can - you can never have enough time and if other people can do a task better than you can, get them to do it. Don't be defensive.
3. Don't bully young chefs - they need discipline but you don't need to frighten them! You'll get much better results by inviting them to share in the creative experience, which is good cooking.

You've said that when Indians talk of their food, they talk about their life. What would you do to increase the authenticity of Indian cooking away from India, to recreate that connection between life and food?
If you can afford to, send your chefs to India to cook - but if that's not possible, read Rick Stein's India.

Did you learn anything new about cooking fish and seafood from your travels in India?
I learnt that if the seafood is particularly fresh, it's not ruined by spice.

If you had to pick one ingredient that you think has to be present in a perfect curry, for you, what would it be
I couldn't imagine a perfect curry without slow-cooked onions and the Korma recipe I'm sharing with you uses these.

At Rick Stein's Fish, Falmouth, you serve classic fi sh and chips as well as other fi sh and seafood. What is the best fish for Fish and Chips - and what's special about your batter?
In my opinion, cod is the best fish because we buy large Icelandic fillets and you need thick fillets in fish and chips to retain moistness. There is nothing special about the batter; it's the dripping we fry in.

In recent years you have explored France, Spain, the Far East, the Mississipi Delta and now India. Is it a secret or can you divulge where you might go exploring next?
We're not really sure yet. It's early days but possibly China, South America or back to Europe.

Your OBE for services to West Country tourism was tied in very closely with your support of sustainable farming and fi shing. Why is this so important to you and how do you actively support the campaign?
The fish and meat in our restaurants is 90% from the West Country, except for the cod in our fi sh and chip shops, which comes from sustainable sources in Iceland. We are always looking for local produce to stock in our food shops, such as the Deli in Falmouth, and we regularly check on fish stocks in the South West.

Rick has provided a recipe for us from his book "Rick Stein's India (BBC Books, £25)."

Why don't you take a look at Rocky's Chicken Korma featured as our recipe of the month!

For your chance to win one of three copies of Rick's book see Country Club on page 23.

Article taken from August 2013 issue of Stir it up magazine. Get your copy here


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