Sent to press
Publication date: Autumn 2018
112% funded
507 backers

The definitive collection of recipes from one of our greatest food writers

1987 turned out to be an annus mirabilis for modern British cooking. Marco Pierre White opened Harvey’s; Simon Hopkinson launched Bibendum , Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers served their first customers at the River Café in Hammersmith while in Notting Hill Rowley Leigh was busy turning Kensington Place into one of London’s most popular neighbourhood restaurants.

The food he cooked was simple, seasonal and delicious offering a timely riposte to the fripperies of nouvelle cuisine and over the next two decades, Kensington Place and Le Café Anglais that followed it, were elevated to the status of legends. But Rowley could write as well as cook. His columns in the Financial Times were as influential and admired as his food.

It is these columns, produced in collaboration with the photographer Andy Sewell, that will form the heart of this book, the one all fans of his cooking have waited patiently for. It will contain 120 of his best recipes, each of them illustrated by Andy’s photos (unlike most cookbooks all the food photographed will have been cooked by Rowley himself – no food stylists will be harmed in the making of this book). In Rowley’s own words:

“This book is a selection of our work over five years. It is arranged by month because I think that provides a more compelling narrative. Some dishes are starters, some ‘mains’, and some puddings but as often or not they are just something to eat when you are hungry.

I divide those who are kind enough to appreciate my work into two camps. There are those who like my ‘writing’ and enjoy the introductory essays and those who want to cook the food and therefore glance at the essay and scrutinise the recipe. I am very happy for both groups but would make one observation. The essay is an attempt to entertain but the recipe is an attempt to instruct and therefore, as a writer, rather more demanding. What matters in a cookbook is that it, and its recipes, work. I hope that is the case. I have worked quite hard after all.”

He has – and now it’s your turn: help us make it happen and take this once in a lifetime chance of getting your name in the back of a culinary classic.

Rowley Leigh was born in Manchester in 1950. After university he tried his hand at farming and novel writing before falling into cooking ‘almost by accident’ in 1977.

After a couple of years at the Joe Allen restaurant, Leigh went to work with the Roux brothers at Le Gavroche in 1979 taking over their Le Poulbot restaurant as head chef in 1984 and winning The Times ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award in 1986.

He opened Kensington Place restaurant with Nick Smallwood and Simon Slater in 1987, and the following year published his first food column. He was won three Glenfiddich award for his work in the Guardian, the Sunday Telegraph and the Financial Times. His first book, No Place Like Home was published in 2001.

He left Kensington Place in order to open Le Café Anglais in 2007 and is now a consultant for the Soho House group, overseeing the opening of their Café Monico brasserie in April 2016.

Andy Sewell is one of the rising stars of British photography. As well as working for a wide variety of different newspapers and magazines, his personal projects have been acquired for the V&A, The Museum of London and the National Media Museum. His book The Heath won the International Photobook Award in 2012 and was described by the Guardian as ‘a classic of understated observation’.


I enjoy cooking and writing in January. It comes as a welcome relief after the deadline ‘pullbacks’ and frenetic pace of December when a working chef has to cook turkey and Christmas puddings for office parties and whilst attempting to think of something new to say about a subject – Christmas party food, Christmas starters, Christmas Turkey, alternative Christmas lunches, Christmas puddings etc - he has been writing about for twenty years.

January has its own problems. There are few ingredients specific to the month. The game season still has a month to run but care is needed with most birds as they become more mature. There are still apples and pears from store but the only fruit, apart from wonderful citrus, are the exotics. With vegetables, there are roots and brassicas aplenty and Italy seems to produce a new member of the chicory family almost every year. There is plenty of fish, if the weather allows and we live in an age where there is no shortage of meat at any time of the year.

The other problem is that January is diet month. Half the population – or certainly that section of the population that might read the FT – is on a ‘dry’ January and a detox diet. I prefer to defer my attempts at detox until Lent, not for religious reasons but because it seems more seasonally appropriate. I do, however, occasionally prescribe dishes that are suitable for those trying to clean up but in the main I tread my usual path. Whilst most food pages are full of well being and health, I reward the other population who pine for more substantial victuals. Nobody needs spiralised courgettes in an English winter.



Tuesday, 14 June 2016

'The life so short, the craft so long to learn'. Most cookery books emphasise how easy their recipes are. They lie. Cooking, like life, karate and playing the violin, has to be learnt. That is why it is so rewarding. This is a long, unmessy and beautifully illustrated book, documenting my cooking and ruminations over the last few years. And I'll cook your dinner.

John Neill
John Neill asked:

Dear Rowley

Ive corresponded with you & my partner & I have dined at Anglais a couple o times when weve been in London.
I miss you regular FT writing -- but now I understand why you're hardly ever published these days..too busy!

One Q please : if we support by subscribing, will a hard cover book be sent to Switzerland where we live?
Oh & would you like a few new addresses of potential subscribers?
Best of luck with this! How very exciting!

John Neill

Rowley Leigh
Rowley Leigh replied:

Of course we can post to Switzerland. And yes, the more addresses the better!
best regards

Michael Gwinnell
Michael Gwinnell asked:

Dear Rowley

We were really sad when Le Cafe Anglais closed as it was a favourite special occasion venue and occasionally we were joined by your fan and cooking enthusiast our son-in-law, his wife (our daughter) and their children. For many years my wife has lovingly cut out your recipes from the FT magazine and we have presented them to him in a binder on his birthday. Now your book will make that effort somewhat redundant!

Q1: We'd like to give them a signed copy for their joint birthdays next year - his is in March - will it be out by then?

Q2: And can we specify their two names as dedicatees of of your signature?

Q3: Is there any scope for choosing the subject of the giclee print?

Good luck

Michael Gwinnell

Rowley Leigh
Rowley Leigh replied:

Q1: I'm afraid not: probably not until September 2017 but it depends on when the book is funded.
Q2: Of course, you can add their names to the supporter list in the back of the book.
Q3: Yes, some scope. Did you have something in mind? We could perhaps produce a print with a dedication from me for whomever you like.

I'm sorry Le Cafe Anglais has gone but that's life. It was nice while it lasted.

The binder sounds great. What dedication!

Maisie Taylor
Maisie Taylor asked:

Hello Rowley
Not a question - more a statement.

On Saturday 31st May 1997 I copied your recipe for Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon out of the Grauniad. Since then my kitchen notebook has fallen apart, the cover has dropped off and it now opens automatically at that page. This is probably because I make it whenever there is tarragon in the garden. Thank you for a truly great recipe which never let's you (or me) down.
Maisie Taylor

Rowley Leigh
Rowley Leigh replied:

Sometimes the old ones are the best. I hope when you get the book you can expand the repertoire a little. Julian Barnes has a copy of Marcella Hazan which always falls open at a recipe for a pasta dish with courgettes. No matter how many times he makes it, he follows the recipe as though for the first time. Thanks for the compliment and have a happy Christmas. R

Join in the conversation

Sign in to ask a question