What do a Smash Hits sticker collection, an obsession with cutlery culture and a knack for knowing how to Give Great Food have in common? Smith hotel-reviewing chef Allegra McEvedy’s tasty new book, Bought Borrowed & Stolen, that’s what.*
York & Albany reviewer Allegra – aka the First Lady of fast food, thanks to having co-founded the Leon restaurant chain in London – has put together a travel-loving foodie’s wet dream of a book that brings together recipes and food memories collected over a quarter century of global roamings. Lovers of Ripailles who are not Francophile purists take note: this is gastronomy and globetrotting with a healthy smattering of scrapbooky memorabilia thrown in for good measure. We love.
Each destination, from the Arctic to the US, is summed up by its most idiosyncratic and ubiquitous kitchen utensil: the knife – culinary objects of desire that Allegra has also amassed on her worldwide wanders. (We are just imagining all the Fun Times she must have had in Customs over the years: ‘So, madam, about that Burmese machete/Mexican cleaver/Filipino hunting knife in your suitcase…’.)
As well as being the Leon princess, Allegra is a chef, writer and broadcaster, with cookbooks and TV series under her belt including Economy Gastronomy (co-written with chef Paul Merrett, he behind the Victoria gastropub in leafy SW London). Allegra has been a guest presenter on Radio 4, as well as hosting The Guardian website’s first live, interactive cookalongs. As well as a good fish pie, she loves Hollywood musicals, Elvis and juggling. And she’s still looking for the sticker of the Haircut 100 drummer to complete her Smash Hits collection…).
Bought Borrowed or Stolen: Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef (£25, Conran Octopus) is out now. Read Allegra’s review of York & Albany hotel in London for Mr & Mrs Smith; you can also catch her on TV again later this month in her new show for the Good Food channel, Matt & Allegra’s Big Farm, starting 9pm on 23 October.
*Apologies to anyone offended by our blatant disregard for points 2 and 9 of the San Jose Mercury News Lede Desk Memo. You know who you are.