Sue Quinn is trained in cheese and wine, and even gets to judge the Academy of Chocolate awards – what could be better than that? Getting to write about it, that’s what. As Sue explains, she is always learning more about food every day despite her expert knowledge in the area. This week she offers us some of her knowledge into the food industry – including the process of making the chocolate bar, and what it means to write a recipe book.
I always wanted this podcast to be pretty eclectic in it’s range of guests, all hung under this idea of hospitality in its broadest sense, where food and drink is the common denominator. This weeks guest, Sue Quinn is a food writer and cookbook author. I wanted to chat to Sue about the importance of the written word in hospitality, and I guess life in general. The reviewers, the critics and the influencers are all having an impact on our venues and our daily lives.
From the ghee butter in Olivia Coleman’s Oscar-winning goody bag, and the rise of ultra-processed vegan food to the eery beauty of cacao pods that look like alien lanterns: this gives you a flavour of the range of topics that Sue explores in her writing life.
But her early career was far removed from food and drink. Sue was a political journalist in Australia before moving the UK as London correspondent. After a stint at the Guardian as a home news reporter, she went freelance, and began editing and then writing cookbooks.
Sue’s now an award-winning food writer, journalist and cookbook author. Her articles and recipes regularly appear in the Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the Guardian and her books range from Easy Vegan to Cocoa, her most recent encyclopaedic work on chocolate. In the interests of research, Sue even travelled to Mexico, where she sampled gorgeous artisanal hot chocolate – something she was well qualified to do because she has accreditations in both chocolate and cheese tasting.
As you’ll hear, variety really is the spice of this writer’s life – and Sue’s ability to turn her pen to a range of projects is an advantage in a sector which has seen a huge amount of change in the last few years.
Andrew Stembridge doesn’t believe in panic. His years in Scotland at a time that was arguably the worst for hospitality means that he is no stranger to disaster – and he learnt about 15 years worth of hotel knowledge in just two. Now Andrew has taken all that knowledge into his role as Executive Director at Iconic Luxury Hotels which includes award-winning, produce growing, hospitality LOVING tree house heaven: Chewton Glen.
James Cochran is cool, calm and passionate about cooking in a way that honours his roots and allows his parents legacy to live on. Starting in the kitchen at just 12 years old, James enjoyed the long hours and graft that came with his job back in the day… Going on to wine the Great British Menu and open his own restaurant in London certainly made his old mentors very proud… His aim now is to get himself a cooking show that offers an alternative perspective, and maybe in ten years or so to open a small restaurant in his beloved home town of Whitstable.
There is no getting away from the fact that James Cochran is a dude. He’s the chef with no name and his restaurant is named after a song from The Strokes, and if that’s not cool enough, he also happens to be an epic chef, and an all-round entertaining chap.
If you look at James Cochran’s sample menus – from pheasant sausage to buttermilk jerk spiced chicken – you can see the influences that shape his brilliant cooking: Scottish from his dad; Vincentian from his mum.
When James was honing his chef’s skills alongside Brett Graham at the famous The Ledbury, he couldn’t bring these influences to the fore – great though his time with the Michelin-starred chef was. (He really does mean ‘great’, despite the 18-hour days when he never saw daylight and despite regularly missing his tube stop, because he was so exhausted).
James came into his own when he was named ‘Champion of Champions’ on the Great British Menu in 2018 and his Goat Sharing Board and legendary Scotch Bonnet Jam reached the attention of millions.
Now, as the owner of 12:51, he has the freedom to work creatively with the ingredients from his childhood. He says he ‘feels honest every day about the food he does and is happy to carry on his parents’ legacy’.