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March 14, 2011 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Interview With Genevieve Knights

We catch up with Genevieve Knights, former chef and food writer, who has a baking-themed book series underway.

As a food writer, do you think that your varied experience in the food industry has shaped your writing style, or that food writing has actually helped to sharpen your skills as a chef and recipe developer?

I was always taught as a chef to cook instinctively and often that meant without a recipe, tasting every dish until it was perfectly executed. As in any trade, the skills come with time: repeating the same dishes over and over again each night encourages constant improvement in a disciplined chef.
Recipe writing is a whole different deal. In order for someone else to recreate your work, the directions and ingredients quantities need to be as precise as possible. I have learned an incredible amount from researching articles but also from recipe experimentation and all of this helps in working as a chef. As for my writing style, I am a straightforward, no-nonsense chef, and I think that reflects in my articles
and blogs.

Do you remember the first food piece you ever wrote?

The first article I was commissioned to write was on cooking oils for Cuisine Magazine. You can view it on my website in the blogs section.

You’ve already published two successful books (Scones and Pavlova). What inspired you to begin your own cookbook series?

It is hard to find a place in the cookbook market when competing with so many well-known TV chefs and personalities. I decided the best course of action was to make each book’s subject the selling point. From there I looked for subjects that are considered old-fashioned, then updated them for modern tastes. While I don’t think I will write baking books forever, there is plenty of scope in the meantime to continue on with the series.

Both Pavlova and Scones feature 50 detailed, delicious, and different recipes. It must have been quite a labour of love! What do you think makes a good cookbook?

Across the board I think a good cookbook will give you delicious, easy-to-follow recipes featuring ingredients you may not have thought of using yourself and using them in an innovative and inspiring way.

Pavlova, which came out last year, is the only baking book in the world dedicated solely to its eponymous icon. That’s quite a special achievement! Were you surprised that no-one had ever attempted such a comprehensive pavlova book before?

In a way, I was surprised more attention hasn’t been paid to such a well-loved recipe. On one hand I decided it might be because the recipe is perfect just the way it is and that is how everyone likes to eat it. But on the other hand, when pavlova became popular via the fashionable home cooks of last century, they didn’t have access to many ingredients we take for granted these days. For some reason, modern food writers overlooked the subject as well. To me, it was long overdue that the recipe enjoyed a culinary make over.

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