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James McIntosh: Fulfilled
2012.02.07 /
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Award winning cookery writer, home economist and demonstrator James McIntosh lives in London where he runs his own internationally successful home economics consultancy, Whisk. Before launching it, James worked in recipe development for Le Cordon Bleu Cookery Schools and as a consumer researcher for the Good Housekeeping Institute. He writes features for publications such as The Guardian and House Beautiful, and frequently lectures over the world. He also launched his own series of cookery books. James McIntosh talks to Mikołaj Hęciak.

Aside from food, which I imagine is the main focus of your life, what do you do in your spare time? Do you have any?

– That’s what my friends say, and mum keeps worrying that I’m going to burn out by the time I’m 40. I’m 33 and not one to sit about doing nothing. I’m one of those that works better in the evening than early morning. I hate mornings! If I’m working at a clients premises I will spend my day there, but when I get home after I have my dinner I sit and do some other work. Like writing my books or my iPhone App. I enjoy it and keep thinking of ideas. Yes I have done lots, but that only comes with hard work.

I have plenty of spare time, you make time for what’s important in life and for me that’s time with friends. Every Saturday night and all day Sunday I spend it with my friends, out for a nice lunch then to the pub and then we all congregate at someone’s house until late laughing and joking. I’m from Northern Ireland but live in London and I like to fly home once a month to spend time with my family over there too. It’s a beautiful part of the world where I’m from, a 400 year old farm house. To relax, I love to spend a Saturday night clubbing with my friends.

You are the owner of a successful home economics consultancy enterprise. Can you explain what home economics stands for?

– Home economics is very different to being a chef. Where a chef cooks, the home economist is concerned with all the factors that affect the meal, the family, where the food comes from, the food science, the correct utensils and methods and the energy needed for it. It is an academic profession

What is the future of home economics in 21st century?

– Ha ha, that’s the million dollar question! I suppose it’s related to the worlds food shortages and rising energy costs. I’m an active member of the International Federation for Home Economics and we have a few members on the UN and the Council of Europe. We work hard to get the best for global consumers and at the moment we are concentrating on how fiscal policy will affect consumers at home.

Is running your own business an antidote for global recession?

– Running your own business is never the easy option, but it does give you freedom to do what you want. There is a lot of paperwork required and careful planning. It’s always important to be one step ahead of your clients, that’s why I brought out my iPhone App last year www.whiskapp.com. Marketing, sales, doing the job, being the accounts department and the press officer and a general tea boy are all left to me! But I do love it, my company is very much my baby.

Would you say that what you do at present is deeply rooted in experience from your childhood?

– Mum was a home economics teacher and dad was a farmer, food is all I have known, and they both taught me the food system as I grew up, this knowledge and experience is vital to my daily work now. Some things can be taught, others need to be experienced.

How important is sharing regular meals with the family?

– I think that it’s vital, however it’s not easy. I know that when I do it it’s time that we talk and share as a family, we find out how the day has gone and it’s a time of bonding. However in London I live with friends and we are all busy so we all make the effort of eating together one night a week.

Have you got cooking in your blood?

– Yup! I bleed food!

Which aspect of cooking do you enjoy the most?

– I think it’s the talking and sharing time with others as I cook, it’s certainly not the dishes! However I see food as an experience and a social one at that. And if I’m cooking for myself I watch TV while cooking or listen to my iPod.

You were responsible for recipe development at the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School. How do you create a good recipe?

– That was many years ago! To create a good recipe is quite a skill. For the home I think it’s about using fresh affordable ingredients, using lots of flavours and as few ingredients as possible. Making sure everything is easily available and that one does not need to fly to Madagascar for example to find a vanilla pod for custard!

When did you start writing cookery books?

– I have written six, four in English, one in Chinese and nearly finished my German book. I decided to write my first book after my father died. It was a time of great sadness and I needed to do something I loved to get me through. I believe that my passion really shone through with that.

How did you feel when your book become recognised by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards?

– It was my first book. I flew my mum and brother to Paris for the awards and I remember coming off stage and nearly crying with emotion. What a night and what an award to achieve. I was 30 and titled the Best in the World.

Have you got a favourite cook book or author?

– I have a few, I love the work of Elisabeth David, who wrote so beautifully about food. She died young, but was so talented. I also like reading about new food trends on a global basis and food history and how it changed nations.

What is special about AGA ovens? Why did you become the Ambassador for AGA?

– An AGA is the best cooker in the world. Made in the UK and invented in Sweden. The AGA is always on, it is very much the heart of the home and it’s an easier way to cook as one does not need to think about temperatures, one cooks by cooking function – baking, roasting, boiling etc. The ovens are made of cast iron and that creates a lovely moist radiant heat. Food never dries out. I could write pages on this, but have a look at www.agaliving.com to see more. The CEO of AGA asked me to become their ambassador and I have flown all over the world with AGA. I grew up on with one and I spend my life with them, they are so beautiful to look at yet so perfect for all types of cooking.

Could you share a delicious recipe for this time of the year with our Nowy Czas readers please?

– Sure! I have a great everyday muffin recipe that is quick, easy and they never last long when taken out from the oven!



Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

250g self raising flour; 2 tsp baking powder; 100g caster sugar; 250ml milk; 1 large egg; 90ml vegetable oil; 150g raspberries; 150g white chocolate chips

Here’s how to make it... Makes 10-12 muffins:

Preheat oven to 180˚C (160˚C if using a fan oven) or Gas Mark 4. Place the muffin cases into a muffin tray.
Place all of the ingredients apart from the raspberries and chocolate into a bowl and mix to form a smooth batter.
Gently fold in the raspberries and chocolate.
Place into the oven for 20-25 minutes until nicely risen and golden on top. Allow to cook slightly and enjoy.

James says... These are best eaten within 24 hours, but they do freeze well.

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