The Accidental Foodie is a hard book to review. Not because the book is hard to read or the style is difficult to understand. No, it isn't that, it is that I feel I am reading the collective works of many chefs. Truth is that I am, as the following chefs and food writers have contributed to this book: Jamie Oliver, Joan Campbell, Nigel Slater, Bill Granger, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Terence Conran, Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack, Cherry Ripe, Kevin Gould, David Thompson, Sybil Kapoor, Donna Hay, Peter Gordon, Claudia Rodan, Maggir Beer, Antonio and Priscilla Carluccio, Stephanie Alexander, Neil Perry, Alastair Hendy, Darina Allen and Martin Boetz. As you can see, this book is one that has many personalities.
So, what can be said about a book that has so many famous chefs and food writers? Well, firstly, Neale Whitaker has done a great job in being able to manage to put this book together in a way that works. The book works, no doubt, due to the fact that Neale has been involved in some of the world's best food magazines, managing the bigness of these names in a way that is balanced and no one is overshadowed. This, and the personal friendship, if that is not too strong a word, has allowed him to tie the book into a coherent, enjoyable book with recipes.
Each chef or food writer presents their favourite recipes for you to enjoy. There are eighty four recipes in the book, presented in a clear, easy to follow manner. Accompanying the dishes are some beautiful photographs that bring the recipes to life. The main thing, though, is the narrative that accompanies each chef and food writer. The recipes are good, but the story behind the person is the thing that makes this book special. We learn why these people are held in such high esteem by Neale, and, if the truth be known, by us as well.
The recipes are good, but you could find them in cookbooks written by the chef or food writer. That doesn't take away from the book, though, as it gives you an insight to these food heroes from a man that has been fortune to know them personally.