Introduction

Orlando Gough is the sort of cook who can, apparently effortlessly, produce a delicious three course meal for twelve people while all those people are in his kitchen, drinking copious wine and talking loudly. And he can do it while joining in the conversation. Cooking has become second nature to him and is inseparable, in his world, from a relaxed conviviality. It’s cooking to nourish both body and soul.

He’s also a cook of distinct character. His recipes might stem from Sussex or from the Levant but, knowing him as I do, I think I could recognise all of them as his. That’s not, of course, that they taste the same as each other but that his cooking has its own handwriting: not fussy, not parading itself but wide ranging, heartwarming – and very tasty. He’s the epitome of a good home cook and a man entirely at ease with himself in the kitchen.

Other than that? He’s a remarkable composer, a great harnesser of the human voice in all its wonderful manifestations. He’s clever – double first in maths from Oxford. He’s the good parent, with his wife Jo, of Daniel and Milo – and here I suppose I must declare an interest: the four of them are among my favourite people in the world. I hope this doesn’t throw into question all I’ve written above. It shouldn’t – I’ve spent very many happy evenings in many different locations enjoying Orlando’s meals. I’m very happy now to be able to provide the opportunity for you to enjoy them too.

James Seaton, Toast. 18.10.12.

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"I started writing down recipes in a notebook when I was in my twenties, and I still have it and use it. It’s chaotic and scruffy and some of the recipes are almost buried under a thin layer of the food they describe, but it’s a treasure to me because it’s a history of my family life, full of notes, comments and annotations (‘fry the onions while trying to stop Daniel from screaming...’), as well as being a kind of culinary history of the last forty-odd years – for example there’s a recipe for Stilton Soup which was flavour-of-the-month in about 1975, and one for John Dory with Candied Aubergines which seemed like a good idea in 1995 but which prompted me later to write, simply, ‘per-lease’."

Orlando Gough. 06.09.12.

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