Alex Mackay has form. He’s not a celeb chef, he’s not a lucky blogger, he’s not even some bloke off the telly, he’s a working cook. He’s worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Italy and the UK, he once ran Raymond Blanc’s cookery school and he founded the Baou d’Infer cookery school in Provence. He works with Saint Delia. He knows all about food and, perhaps more importantly, all about the teaching of cooking.
Everybody Everyday (Bloomsbury) is one of those rare cookbooks, one that doesn’t stint on mouthwatering photography but which doesn’t let you down with poorly explained, badly edited copy either. Nor does Alex waste our time with whimsical guff about food discoveries and food stories. He has a job to do and he gets on with it very well.
The clever bit, apart from the very achievable and great-sounding recipes from all over the world, is the family-friendly angle. Each recipe comes with an added para explaining how to make the dish palatable for a picky small child. Personally I always make them eat what we’re eating, within reason, but I can see more liberal parents might find this useful.
The system Alex adopts is probably similar to how it works in his cookery schools. No Starters, no Desserts just practical approaches – six basic ingredients, six sauces and six slow-cooked meals. First he explains some core skills such as how to cook a cut of meat or a piece of fish perfectly, and then moves it on into recipes that build on the skill. The recipes aren’t dogmatic, he also accepts that every day cooks can have gaps in their store cupboard and offers alternatives when possible.
All recipes are of course tried and tested, not something every cookbook writer can honestly claim, and nearly all appeal straight off the page. The book is well produced; it has the heft of quality and is all in all a good buy.