Interview: Rosemary Shrager

July 10, 2015

Rosemary Shrager

Last week I was invited to the Good HouseKeeping Institute by Californian Prunes to interview one of my favourite chefs Rosemary Shrager. After stuffing my face with lots of delicious food she had prepared (recipes to come) I settled down and started the interview:

Rosemary Shrager

What convinced you to become an ambassador for Californian Prunes?
It was a no brainer really because I love prunes. I have been working with prunes all my life, throughout all of my career. I am a huge fan of them, so to work as an ambassador for California Prunes was a real honour.

What is your favourite prune recipe?
The prune and walnut tart and also the salted caramel cream prune tart (recipe to come!).

Apart from in tagines, how would you incorporate prunes into every-day savoury dishes?
There is honestly so much that you can do with them. The list is endless. I use them in terrines, in salads – they are especially good in bean salads. You can put them with more or less anything

What other store cupboard essentials would you suggest people stock up on?
Good question. Ginger is one of my favourites – it’s a great flavour. Ginger syrup, stem ginger, crystallised ginger – all types of ginger. Chilli is also a good one to have as it can liven up your dishes. I think it’s really important to have a good selection of spices and store cupboard staples so you can put something together at the last minute. But be careful with nuts – they can go off and become rancid.

Tell us about your cookery school in Kent - we see you host weekend courses, that must be a lot of fun!
I’ve been teaching cookery for 18 years, and we set the cookery school up two years ago. The school is something that I love as it’s a great chance to get back to my roots as a cookery teacher. It’s still a start-up but things are going well and hoping to build up. We do all sorts of corporate events and day courses and it’s always great fun. We do a lot of bespoke cookery days and team building events. It’s a great fun and I highly recommend it – come down!

You're last book was released three years ago - any plans to write another?
Actually my last book was released last year, my Cake and Bake book. I do have lots of plans to write more books but I’m waiting for a while as I’ve got so much on my plate at the moment – lots of TV, shows and my cookery school - so taking a bit of a rest from writing.

What was your biggest mistake as a newly trained chef?
I’m a self-taught chef, so probably not going to college and learning all of the basic culinary skills. I’m a completely self-taught chef, but earlier on in my career my lack of training meant that I lacked confidence. I always felt that I had to work a lot harder because of my lack of confidence.

What was your worst kitchen disaster? 
I can’t think of anything specific really. Probably something being overcooked because once it’s overcooked there’s not much else you can do with it. Things always go wrong in the kitchen because that’s just life. Sometimes it is just a matter of trial and error. However, it’s important to always learn from your mistakes and to be experimental – that’s part of the fun of cooking!

What would you say is your best masterpiece in the kitchen? 
It has to be my Chicken and potato pie. It is the simplest thing to make but it’s my masterpiece as people love it and always ask for it. Also, I once made a vacherine out of 60 egg whites, which created a huge crown for the centrepiece on the table. It takes about three days to make but it was a pleasure. It looked magnificent with a huge white swan on the top

Do you do the cooking at home?
Yes always. I never stop cooking!

Any tips for our readers? (there must be a kitchen faux-pas you see frequently?) 
One of my dislikes is omelets and scrambled eggs at breakfast. I stay in a lot a lot of hotels and they are always wrong rubbery or too sloppy and wet. The trick is to make them creamy, using butter and cream. This gives them a delicious taste and really helps the texture to be just right.