february foodie profile: amy jane badré


as you’ll know, 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.

this month we’re hearing from amy jane badré, who is scottish and lives and works in provence in the south of france.

1. what is your food job?

we, “famille badré, père et filles” produce french extra virgin olive oils and almonds for the patisserie trade.

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

the best is a never-ending supply of delicious olive oil! the worst is the "weather stress" – too much rain, not enough rain, too much wind, not enough wind to pollinate, too hot, not hot enough ….

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

plant it, tend it, pick it, cook it, eat it. food comes from the land, not the shop!

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

yes. i feel a sense of pride cooking everything from scratch and teaching my daughters how to cook real food. i also feel an obligation to find the best quality produce to cook with - second best isn't good enough and i like to know that the meat or the vegetables i'm using are the best i can get. i like to know where the produce comes from, who produced it and how.

5. what is your most useful kitchen utensil?

a very sharp knife.

6. what’s your usual stand-by recipe?

cheat's pizza. this is what i make when i'm running late and everyone is hungry and waiting to be fed! it's simply a tomato tart that's poshed up with capers, anchovies and mozzarella. it takes 30 minutes to do from start to finish.

7. which food says “home” to you?

i have two homes. stovies, as scotland was my home for 20 years, and french onion soup has said home for the last 20 years.

8. do you have a guilty pleasure?

i don't think so. pleasure doesn't make me feel guilty!

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

yes. but i still always end up going back and forward up the aisles as i pick up an ingredient and think, "oh i could do x, y or z with this if i had any a, b or c".

10. how tidy is your kitchen?

it depends what's been happening in there and who was doing it! if the girls (aged 6, 11 and 13) are cooking or helping then there's stuff all over the place.if my husband is cooking the kitchen looks like a professional one, with absolutely no mess whatsoever!

11. what inspired your love of food?

unconsciously, perhaps the fact that my grandparents used to have a restaurant. consciously, my mum who cooked very well and very economically: she cooked for seven every day on a shoestring budget. also, the fact that my husband loves good food and appreciates my cooking is very good for my culinary motivation.

12. what is the first thing you remember cooking?

chicken liver pâté. mum used to make pâtés, cook hams and make salads for the deli counter in dad's shop.

13. what is your top cooking tip?

brush the pastry for your apple pie with egg yolk and put in the fridge for 15 minutes before putting the apples on – it stops the juice from the fruit soaking into the pastry and making it go soggy.

14. what is your signature dish?

osso bucco. my in-laws still talk about the osso bucco i cooked for them on mothering sunday 15 years ago!

15. what’s your worst cooking disaster?

a cheescake i made using out-of-date petits suisses. the foulest thing i have ever made!!

16. do you have any food heroes?

my mum.

17. what annoys you about food culture in france?

i hate the way big family meals last for hours and hours - an average of 4 in my mother-in-law's case. it's not because there are 15 people at the table that the meal has to take so long. i think it's a "i made a big effort to cook this so let's make it last as long as possible" mentality.

18. do you prefer eating in or eating out?

oh that's a difficult question. i love eating out – i love the luxury of not having to cook. but i prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of eating in, at home or at someone else's home.

19. what is the perfect foodie gift?

a selection of different olive oils, of course!

20. what’s your unfulfilled foodie ambition?

i have two:

  • to make baked alaska
  • to earn a living for a family of 5 from selling our oil and almonds. when we do, i can pack in my job in town and spend my days cooking and baking!

if you are interested in trying famille badré olive oils, including this year's "huile nouvelle" (new oil) which is sought after a bit like beaujolais nouveau, contact amy jane via email at mas_seneguier at hotmail dot com.

abby dyson5 Comments