Woolworths TASTE


BY CELEBRITY chef standards, Ottolenghi’s repertoire is modest: he’s been cooking for 15 years and “only” has four delis, two restaurants and seven books to his name. But, thanks, in part, to his column in The Guardian “The New Vegetarian”, which began in 2006, his influence far exceeds the sum of these parts.

Known among the food literati as “the chef who made veggies cool”, Ottolenghi‘s name is often accompanied by an eye-roll and a reference to obscure ingredients (harissa, tahini, sumac), but it has also become a happy household adjective for heavily spiced, veg-focused dishes that are designed to be shared.

Born in Jerusalem, Yotam is of Italian-German Jewish descent, which explains the myriad cultural traditions that infuse his recipes. His latest book, Simple, is no exception, featuring dishes that promise the same “drama in the mouth” typical of all his food, just with fewer ingredients.

He was famously accepted into the “genius” academic programme at Tel Aviv University, from which he graduated with a Masters degree before swapping cooking for academia. His books have now sold over a million copies collectively, and without ever having set out to do it, he has joined the ranks of the pioneering chefs who have changed the way we eat.

“When people say Ottolenghi I think they mean vegetable-heavy cusine, which is bold in flavour – with a lot of herbs and spices. They mean something that doesn’t necessarily belong to one food tradition but takes inspiration from different parts of the world, while still focused on the food of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. I also think they mean food that is not fussy, but also thoughtful – there’s a lot of thought that goes into a dish; it’s very vibrant in terms of colours and textures and contrasts.

So for me it’s a very natural way to eat. I didn’t set out to make it [my sole purpose]. It’s also because I am aware that

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Woolworths TASTE

Woolworths TASTE1 min readFood & Wine
Be A Pastry Pro
When working with frozen puff pastry, thaw it in the fridge if you have time, rather than at room temperature. This will ensure that it remains pliable without softening too much. If it’s an emergency (read: loadshedding), you can thaw it at room tem
Woolworths TASTE3 min readFood & Wine
Hong Kong hustle
The taut, ochre, glossy skin of roasted goose will beckon to you from every corner, but if you only have one chance to try this renowned dish, you may as well follow Anthony Bourdain’s recommendation. While the queues at Yat Lok can seem endless, the
Woolworths TASTE3 min readFood & Wine
Home Truths
In the early nineties, I found myself working at a historical mansion in Washington DC that served as a retreat for congressmen, senators and world leaders. I spent my days mangling sheets, polishing marble floors and turning rooms, and my time off r