Lucy Cufflin, Co-founder & organiser of the Cookbook Festival
Profile by Bridget Osborne
There are food festivals up and down the land, but Chiswick has the distinction of being the only place, as far as we know, which has a Cookbook Festival. Organisers foodie entrepreneur Lucy Cufflin and TV chef Jo Pratt wanted to create something more than just a food festival. They wanted to offer fabulous food but also to celebrate the creators. Lucy feels very strongly that in these days when we can just pull a recipe off the internet, if we don’t buy cookbooks we will lose them. Chiswick already has a well established Book Festival, so under the umbrella of the Chiswick Book Festival they have launched a unique event where not only can you see the authors and hear them talking about their books, but you can also take part in workshops, watch cookery demonstrations and taste the recipes.
Cookbook festival founder and organiser Lucy Cufflin tells the editor of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne what got her interested in cookery initially and what motivates her to share her passion.
A Cordon Bleu childhood
‘I remember my childhood mealtimes as exciting and delicious. We would be eating Cassoulet , Beef Bourguignon and veal when my school friends would be eating fish fingers and chips. My Mum had a passion for food and had subscribed to the Cordon Bleu Cookery magazine and each month a copy would come through the letter box with a glossy picture on the front of a ridiculously tall and complicated pudding or an exotic savoury. I think this is where my real love of food came from. We all need to eat, so to be able to enjoy eating and take great pleasure in sharing food with friends and family as part of everyday life is a true gift.
On the Piste
‘A change of direction after Art College saw me following my love of food and enrolling at the Cordon Bleu cookery school in London after which I became chef to the British Ambassador in Sweden. After an Embassy weekend ski trip and first time ever on a pair of skis I was hooked, handed in my notice at the end of a year and set off for the French Alps to do a ski season. One thing led to another and the French Alps became my home for the next 15 years running my own ski chalet. The joy of feeding hungry skiers, finding new and interesting local ingredients fired my passion further and I became the go-to person in resort for recipes and food information. I teamed up with Skiworld, a large ski chalet operator, to create a recipe book for their staff and realised what we needed were recipes that worked every single time for every single person, which maximised every minute spent in the kitchen but had fabulous results – and so my fool-proof recipe ethos was born: how to simplify a traditional recipe or how to re-write a classic or simply create and invent my own new recipes.
‘Driven by my belief that everyone can cook and that everyone should be able to enjoy the loveliness of sharing food with friends I adapted, created, collated and wrote hundreds of recipes for Skiworld and each season over 35,000 skiers staying in their 150 chalets across the Alps and in USA would eat my food. No recipe ever made the menu unless it had been tried and tested many times by me, many others, tweaked and re-written and only the most popular recipes made the grade. It has been a labour of love and although I am no longer hands-on with the recipes each year the ethos of the fool-proof recipe has stayed with me and I never publish a recipe without cooking it many times and get at least a good crowd of folk to cook it.
Sharing the love
‘I just want people to feel the joy I feel when I share home-made food. I talk about food all the time and if I am not shopping for it, actually cooking it I must be dreaming about it so I think I am really just a self-confessed foodie.
‘I started my food production company Lucy’s Food when I returned to the UK in 2000 and we produced cakes and sweet goods for cafes, bars and restaurants including the then new style Debenham’s café. I sold the business when it became less artisan due to demand and after writing a couple of cookbooks teamed up with the photographer on my second book (Lucy’s bakes) to start Ginger Whisk Ltd – food photography studios and prop hire adding a small cook school alongside’.
Lucy is now focusing on the Cookbook Festival, which raises money for charity.
Group photograph of the Cookbook Festival committee by Dinis Cruz. Other photographs by Charmaine Greiger – charmainegrieger.co.uk
The first Cookbook Festival in September 2018 took place in and around Lucy’s cookery school Ginger Whisk off Turnham Green Terrace and St Michael & All Angels Church, Bath Rd. W4. The second one in 2019 spread out on to Turnham Green Terrace with a marquee on the ‘piazza’ and a street party held in collaboration with Chiswick-based community project Abundance London.
Read more about the Cookbook Festival here.
Read profile of Cookbook Festival co-founder and organiser Jo Pratt
Read Lucy’s guest blog about the 2019 Cookbook Festival here.
Collaborations with Abundance London
In October 2017 Ginger Whisk held a chutney making day with Abundance London, a not-for-profit whose original purpose was to harvest fruit from local gardens which would otherwise go to waste, and make use of it by making preserves and juices. Abundance London has since branched out into creating the mural under the railway bridge over Turnham Green Terrace, the Chiswick Timeline, and to refurbishing the piazza beside it.
Read more about Abundance London here.
Read more about the 2019 Turnham Green Street Party here.