World Chefs: Teaching students a thing or two about cooking

Reuters, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

Tiffany Goodall, a chef who began her career at the early age of 17, helps college students learn the basics of preparing food and planning meals

Ultimate student cookbook

Chef Tiffany Goodall learned to cook at an early age and completed culinary school while still in her teens, but it wasn't until she started university in her native England that she realised she was somewhat unique among her peers.

Most of her fellow students had no idea about the basics of preparing food, or planning a meal. Like most universities, the quality of the food served in her cafeteria also left a lot to be desired.

So for a small fee Goodall hosted culinary evenings called Tiff's Tuesdays for her friends and compiled recipes that formed the basis of "The Ultimate Student Cookbook From Chicken to Chili."

"I decided I wanted to teach my friends how to cook," she said.

The 26-year-old London-based chef, who runs her own catering company, hopes the book will be a must-have for students heading to college. In addition to a variety of recipes and plenty of photographs, the book includes sections on basic kitchen equipment, must-have pantry ingredients and food hygiene, along with tips on how to cook pasta, poach an egg and make couscous.

Goodall spoke to Reuters about the importance of knowing how to cook and how cost effective and healthy preparing food is for college students.

Q: Why did you decide to write a student cookbook?

A: "I trained as at a cooking school when I was 17 and then went to Newcastle University in England and the quality of food was not good. I met people who didn't know how to cook and having been privileged enough to have learned. I decided I wanted to teach my friends how to cook.

Q: Do you think it is a skill that most students don't have?

A: "Yes, definitely. I think it's because they have not been taught by their parents. Having never had to cook for themselves they find themselves at university or college finding that they have to fend for themselves."

Q: What approach did you take in planning and writing the cookbook?

A: "It is a total beginners cookbook. I wanted to make sure that there were loads of pictures to show someone how you get to the finished dish. There is no point in having beautiful images of a dish. For me it was all about taking the reader through that stages, from heating the frying pan, putting the eggs on and assembling the dish. I wanted it to be a visual journey."

Q: How would you describe the type of food you are teaching people to prepare?

A: "It is good comfort food, classic dishes that you can share with friends. Dishes that you can have fun with and make."

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in becoming a chef?

A: "My inspiration is my grandmother, who is an amazing cook."

Q: You did quite a lot of travelling before you published the book. Did your travels influence your cooking?

A: "Absolutely. I did a cooking course in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and learned how to use their ingredients. There are a few curries in the book, so that definitely influenced me, and learning how to use different spices. Travelling is great for that."

Q: What are some of your favorite recipes in the book?

A: "My favorites are the dishes you can share with friends ... I really love to share food and share the experience."

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn how to cook.

A: "I would say read a lot, give it a go and be brave."

Q: What are the basic ingredients for a beginning cook?

A: "Onions and garlic are crucial and can be the basis of any dish. Tinned tomatoes, which you could use for a pizza sauce. I would suggest pasta and rice, which are good store cupboard ingredients and some stock cubes."

Shrimp and Coconut Stir Fry (serves 2-4)
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1/2 inch (1 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 scallions, chopped
1 green chili, chopped
4 tbsp (60 ml) coconut milk
11 oz (285 g) small ready-cooked shrimps
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a skillet, then add the ginger, garlic, scallions and chili. Fry for two minutes, stirring constantly. You should be hit with delicious and fragrant flavors. Add the coconut milk and mix for around three minutes until hot. Right at the end throw in your shrimp. Scatter with cilantro and serve.

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