The delectable Sophie Dahl brings her culinary prowess to LifeStyle FOOD with a six-part cookery series, The Delicious Miss Dahl, marrying her talent for storytelling with fresh, enticing recipes. We chatted to her about the show, her favourite dishes and even Manly beach!
Why do you think Australians will love your series The Delicious Miss Dahl?
"It would be bold of me to assume they will love it – I can only hope people will appreciate it for the reasons I made it – that it involves lots of gorgeous food that is simple to make and then eat with great gusto! To my mind it should be a relaxing cosy thing to curl into of an evening, like putting an old jumper."
What is your most memorable moment from the series?
"When we made the nostalgia episode I went down to the seaside town that my granny had lived in, that I hadn’t been to since she died, in 1997. It was odd to suddenly walk on the beach again, as a grownup, in a place that was such a formative part of my childhood. It was bittersweet."
In the show you explore the connection between emotion and food, what would you cook for a table full of your loved ones?
"My loved ones are a greedy bunch – I would make a huge mixture of things, a little risotto to start, and then probably a roast chicken with some bread sauce, roast potatoes and roasted beetroot, and a bowl of peas and mint, I would then have to have a cheese plate (for my brother Luke who like me, dreams of cheese) with quince and oatcakes, and then if everyone was still alive, a plum sorbet."
If you could cook one dish to sum you up as a person, what would it be and why?
"Something straightforward but with a sense of humour. I don’t know – help – a raspberry fool?"
Have your experiences as a writer and a model influenced your cooking? Is so, how?
"I stopped modelling four years ago, which was somewhat of a relief, but the travelling I did then had a big impact on my cooking and the sort of food I was exposed to. I love that cooking has a narrative like writing. I think they are quite closely connected, in that they are both intuitive and full of humour and magic."
Who has been your greatest cooking influence?
"I’m a big fan of people who can write about food with the same alacrity that they cook it, Ambrose Heath from the 1940’s, Simon Hopkinson, Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson."
What’s your naughtiest cooking secret?
"I did once pretend that I made a cake that I very much did not make. It happened all by accident, someone had sent me a cake, and challenged me to a baking competition, and it was in my kitchen. I served it to some kids I teach an English class to and their parents who I did not know very well, said to them “Look Sophie’s gone to all the trouble of making you this lovely cake.” At which I nodded and said “Uh huh,” somewhat vaguely. The irony is, it was a faaaaar better cake then I ever would have made, so the chick who sent it would have won the baking competition hands down."
If you could invite anyone, which three people would you love to have at your dinner table?
"Mary Magdalene, Winston Churchill and Mata Hari."
If you had to cook one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
"I cannot commit to that. It would be awful."
Have you ever travelled to Australia? If so, what did you think of the food?
"I’ve been to Australia twice and I ate beautifully both times I was there. My husband and I went to an amazing place in Melbourne this year, it has a cheese shop attached and we ate ourselves silly. We also did a great deal of good eating down in Manly Beach."
What is the key ingredient to becoming a great home cook?
"A willingness to experiment and keep learning."
THE DELICIOUS MISS DAHL screens Mondays at 7.30pm from September 20 on LifeStyle FOOD, FOXTEL and AUSTAR. Click here for more information and recipes from the show.