january foodie profile: joanne fry


as i mentioned last week, this year i want to make space on my blog to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist and how they affect the way that people cook and eat.

i’ve spent many an evening thinking how i could integrate my love of food with my work and i expect that a lot of you have too. who knows, maybe one of these profiles will be the first spark of inspiration for a career change…

first up is joanne fry, pictured above, who works at the hotel school, norwich city college.

1. what is your food job?

chef/lecturer at a further education college. i have previously run my own catering business and cooked for various directors’ dining rooms in the city of london.

2. what are the best and worst bits of it?

the best bits are when students suddenly know how to cook certain foods and i get to see the pleasure this gives them. the worst bit is disruptive students - you have to spend too much time disciplining them.

3. how would you sum up your approach to food?

fresh and on the plate as quickly as possible.

4. has your job affected how you cook and eat?

i rarely eat any processed soup as it tastes too bland or salty.

5. what is your most useful kitchen utensil?

my magimix, i use it most days.

6. what’s your usual stand-by recipe?

rice and beans, with tomatoes and avocadoes.

7. which food says “home” to you?

chicken thighs roasted with chilli, onions, peppers and potatoes or butternut squash, with chopped herbs added at the end.

8. do you have a guilty pleasure?

peanut butter straight out of the jar. i also love crisps.

9. do you use a list when you’re food shopping?

i try to but usually forget to bring it with me. i also have a quick look round the kitchen before i go shopping.

10. how tidy is your kitchen?

i like everything to be in its place and hate to start cooking if there’s loads of stuff in the sink, messy surfaces etc.

11. what inspired your love of food?

my grandmother was a cook - she was born in 1902 and put into service as a scullery maid at the age of 12. her ethos was food before anything, my mum said they always ate well even during the war.

12. what is the first thing you remember cooking?

rock cakes and fairy buns - they weren’t called muffins in those days!

13. what is your top cooking tip?

have a good larder so that you don’t run out of things and can always throw something together. i always have pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes and various pulses, vinegars, oils mustards and spices in the cupboard plus onions, carrots, garlic, celery, tomatoes, cheese and bacon in the fridge.

14. what is your signature dish?

paella, tapas.

15. what’s your worst cooking disaster?

i can’t think, i haven't had one for a very long time.

16. do you have any food heroes?

i like nigel slater’s simple approach to food and the fact that he doesn’t "big himself up" like a lot of other chefs. i grew up reading my mum’s elizabeth david and marguerite patten books. i also like sam & sam clarke’s type of food, i don’t really like traditional british food, such as pie, spuds and vegetables - it’s too plain and heavy for me.

17. what annoys you about food culture in britain?

people won’t fillet fish or touch raw meat, they think these things grow in plastic trays!

also, people say to me "oh you are so lucky, your children will eat anything" which infuriates me! they only eat things because i don’t do “children food” -they eat what we eat or they go hungry. they won’t necessarily like food the first time you give it to them, it can take up to 17 times for a child to decide if they like something or not.

18. do you prefer eating in or eating out?

i like going out as it means i don’t have to cook and can relax, but i am often disappointed by badly executed food and crap service. my partner says we eat so much better at home.

19. what is the perfect foodie gift?

wine, not chardonnay though. i'm also seduced by harvey nichols food, it’s so nicely packaged

20. what’s your unfulfilled foodie ambition?

i want to have my own simple tea shop/ restaurant serving freshly cooked local produce. it’d just serve morning stuff, lunch and afternoon tea. i don’t want to work every evening.

abby dyson2 Comments