Writing a cookbook: a talk with Sybil Kapoor and Jenny Linford

Read about a chat with food book authors and how to write one yourself


A few weeks ago, during London Craft Week, I took part in a workshop to hand-make a notebook.

During this course, I learned the basics to create a very simple and important object from scratch for those who write, want to write and write down thoughts and reflections, and even more important to write down old recipes, new and experimental.

The old cookbooks of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers have been passed down from generation to generation, all very much lived and written with pen and paper. There were no phone applications when writing a recipe on the kitchen table mixed with flour and ingredients of the moment. I think we all received as a gift cookbooks from our families; it is important to continue the tradition and pass that story to those who like us want to cook and explore tastes and smells. Some of these cookbooks will become books. Here is a wonderful event organized by the British Library where two renowned names in writing and cooking talk to us about how to write a cookbook.  

You may love to cook, and perhaps write too, but what really goes into making a cookbook? Take a peek behind the scenes with two highly respected food writers, Sybil Kapoor and Jenny Linford, to find out about the process of writing and creating a cookbook, as they share their trials, tribulations and top tips.

Sybil Kapoor is the author of eight books including her latest Sight Smell Touch Taste Sound A New Way to Cook.  She began her career as a chef in London and New York and has since won many awards for her writing, including two prestigious Glenfiddich Awards, two Michael Smith Awards from the Guild of Food Writers and Food Writer of the Year at The Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2015. Her features have appeared in the GuardianThe Sunday Times, and the Financial Times. Her bestselling books include Modern British Food, Simply British and Taste. She contributes to The Economist’s 1843 MagazineHouse & Garden and the award-winning Borough Market Market Life magazine.

Jenny Linford is a food writer and author of over 15 books including The Chef’s Library, featuring the favourite cookbook choices of over 70 acclaimed international chefs, and Food Lovers’ London, first published in 1991 and still in print. Her work has appeared in Delicious, the Financial Times, Modern Farmer and the National Trust magazine. She runs Gastro-Soho Tours, offering personal guided tours around London’s food shops. Travelling to Denmark, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Spain as well as travelling around Britain to meet producers including bakers, chocolate makers, asparagus growers, ice cream makers and farmers, her most recent book, The Missing Ingredient, showcases the voices of the people she has encountered and championed over 26 years.

Food Season is supported by KitchenAid

More info:

How To Write A Cookbook
British Library St Pancras

Mon 20 May 2019, 19.00 – 20.30

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website – www.bl.uk – every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

The British Library’s Membership scheme is a way for people to support the work of the British Library, while also gaining access to benefits including: unlimited free access to exhibitions, access to the exclusive Members’ Room (with a guest), access to the Knowledge Centre Bar (with up to three guests), 20% discount in British Library restaurants and cafés, 20% discount in our Shops, priority booking for events, along with four free tickets to British Library events. Membership is available at a range of prices and full details are available at www.bl.uk/membership.  Membership is separate from access to our Reading Rooms, which is available to anyone holding a British Library Reader Pass and which remains free.

About KitchenAid

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic KitchenAid Stand Mixer.

In 1908, after watching a baker mix bread dough with a heavy iron spoon, Ohio-based engineer, Herbert Johnston, developed a stand mixer to help alleviate the backbreaking work. By 1919, the first household mixer, boasting the unique planetary action and famous curves, was ready for market. During a product test, the wife of an employee exclaimed: “I don’t care what you call it, it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had!”.  And the rest, as they say, is history …

Since the introduction of the stand mixer in 1919 and the first dishwasher in 1949, KitchenAid has built on the legacy of these icons to create a complete line of products. Today, the KitchenAid brand offers virtually every essential for the well-equipped kitchen from utensils and cookware to large and small electrical appliances offering professional performance to both chefs and passionate home cooks.

KitchenAid is part of the Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s leading major home appliance company. For further information on KitchenAid, visit www.kitchenaid.co.uk

Exploring: Made at Leiths series on career in the food industry

Bi-annual magazine on food that shapes culture


A Culinary school has launched an inspiring series looking at a wide range of careers available in the food industry.

Leiths School of Food and Wine, based in West London and founded by GBBO’s Prue Leith, are using the month of May to explore food industry careers – including a few you may never have thought of.

From super-yacht chef, to food stylist for those M&S adverts, to recipe developer for the latest trendy ingredient delivery service, Leiths will show that the opportunities in food go far beyond restaurant kitchens.

The #MadeAtLeiths series includes an Instagram takeover throughout May, Alumni blogs and a London Underground poster campaign, all highlighting the true ambassadors of the school; the Leiths graduates.

Leiths Managing Director Camilla Schneideman said: “There is an abundance of fulfilling, creative roles to be found in food, and a respected qualification from Leiths will set your CV apart.

“While the prospect of changing career can be daunting, there is a nationwide shortage of chefs, and with a qualification in food, you can work all over the world.

“We are proud to have graduates go onto roles in top restaurants such as Fat Duck, Petersham Nurseries and Spring, but it’s not just about landing a role in a Michelin starred restaurant.

“Leiths students go onto high profile positions in food writing, recipe development and food photography. They are entrepreneurial; starting their own catering companies and pop-ups, authoring cookbooks and launch food businesses. Many work on food series for television and others act as thought leaders in the future of food and technology in governance and policy. The opportunities are endless and highly motivating.

“Working in food can really future-proof your career.”

“Juggling family life, a food column and the Leiths diploma was tough. I pushed through and got exactly what I came for – a solid depth of knowledge, experience of working in Michelin star kitchens and, best of all, a wealth of foodie friends.”

Melanie Johnson, food stylist, photographer and columnist for Country Life Magazine

“This momentum was so important. For anyone thinking of changing careers, my advice is just go for it, hard and fast. But look after yourself too.”
Tomek Mossakowki, professional baker and co-founder of The Dusty Knuckle Bakery School run out of a shipping container in East London,


Leiths’ reputation as a first-class training school for chefs attracts students of all ages from all over the world. With its dedicated teaching and friendly atmosphere, Leiths’ guiding principle is to impart enthusiasm for the trade and instil a lasting love of good food and wine. This is not restricted to career cooks – many enthusiastic amateurs attend the varied programme of courses and diverse range of special events, from food and wine matching evenings to chocolate workshops and carving demonstrations.

For those with professional ambitions, the Leiths Diploma in Food and Wine is highly respected in the culinary world and can be achieved in three terms, starting in September of each year, or in two terms, starting in January. Students learn menu planning, budgeting and wine appreciation and attend daily demonstrations and practical classes, as well as lectures by leading gastronomic celebrities, famous retailers and head chefs from leading hotels and restaurants. Throughout the year, visits are organised to a variety of establishments involved in the business, including Billingsgate fish market and Smithfield meat market. Students get the chance to undertake work experience in leading London restaurants, while visiting chefs specialising in Italian, Japanese and Indian cuisine come to teach at the school and cookery writers and chefs demonstrate their specialities, such as chocolate work.

For those keen to learn the basic skills needed to become a confident, capable, efficient cook in just four weeks, the Essential Cooking Certificate takes place late summer every year, making it especially suitable as a summer course for amateur cooks at the start of a gap year.

Leiths excels on both the theoretical and the practical sides, benefiting from over 30 years’ experience, whilst remaining fully abreast of contemporary techniques, styles and methods. Leiths is run by Managing Director Camilla Schneideman.

For more information and for the full list of courses available, visit http://www.leiths.com or call Leiths on 020 8749 6400.



‘Firm to the tooth’ the degree to which pasta and vegetables are cooked.


A dish topped with cheese or cheese with breadcrumbs which is then browned by grilling (or sometimes baking).


A roasting tin half-filled with hot water in which to cook delicate food in the oven.


To spoon over a liquid during cooking to prevent drying out.


Soft texture, used to describe the inside of a perfectly cooked omelette.


Parboiling prior to freezing, or so vegetables only have to be reheated before serving. (See refresh)


To heat a liquid to 100˚C – at which point the liquid boils at a rapid, bubbling pace.


Sugar cooked to a toffee colour.


Butter that has been separated from milk particles to allow it to reach a higher temperature without burning.


To chop roughly, or to cut tomato flesh into even squares or diamonds.


To beat ingredients together, such as butter and fat when making a sponge cake.


Small evenly sized cubes of fried bread used as a garnish in soup or salad.


To loosen and liquefy fat, sediment and browned juices stuck at the bottom of a frying pan by adding liquid and stirring while boiling.


To extract the juices from vegetables, fruit meat or fish. (i.e. salting aubergines to extract bitter juice.)


To skim off the scum from a sauce or stock: a splash of cold liquid is added to help to bring it back to the surface.


The base of a layered pastry.


The consistency where a mixture will drop reluctantly from a spoon.


To set alcohol alight to burn off alcohol and excess fat.


To mix with a gentle lifting motion. Often in a figure of 8 movement.


Reduced brown stock.


To brown under a grill after the surface has been sprinkled with breadcrumbs, butter or cheese


To steep or heat gently to extract flavour. e.g. milk with onion slices


Vegetables or citrus rind cut into thin matchstick lengths or very fine shreds.


To knead out the air in a risen dough.


When using egg whites, adding a spoonful of egg white to the thicker mixture first, to avoid losing air.


To soak meat, fish or veg before cooking in acidulated liquid containing flavourings and herbs to flavour and tenderise the meat.


To coat, mask or cover, e.g. hardboiled eggs for egg mayonnaise.


See julienne


The base of a soufflé.


To flour, egg and crumb ingredients before frying.


A paper wrapping in which fish, meat or vegetables are cooked to contain the aroma and flavour.


To cook very gently in a barely moving liquid just below boiling point.


To make a frying pan non-stick by heating with oil and salt, then wiping.


To put dough to rise before baking.


Liquidized, sieved or finely mashed fruit or vegetables.


A reheated dish made with previously cooked food.


To reduce the amount of liquid by boiling rapidly.


To cool cooked or blanched vegetables quickly in cold water, to stop the cooking and set the colour.


To melt solid fat.


Melted butter to which flour is added. Used for thickening sauces.


To heat until on the point of boiling.


To brown meat rapidly, usually in fat, for flavour and colour.


To flavour, generally with salt, pepper or sugar. (Can mean to prove a pan)


To mix flour, arrowroot or cornflour to a thin paste with a small quantity of cold water.


To cook gently, usually in butter or oil, but sometimes the food’s own juices, without frying or browning.


The skin or a citrus fruit, very thinly pared without any of the bitter white pith.

(Source: Leiths School)

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