You don’t need an introduction to British Ruby Tandoh bread if you’ve logged the necessary hours and stared at the Great British Bake-Off replay division and writer, and was runner-up in the show’s fourth season. Since the Bake-Off, Tandoh has been challenging long-held preconceptions in the food industry, writing with energy and depth about everything from sugar to fictional cooking.
her fourth book, Cook as You Are: Recipes for Real Life, Hungry Cooks, and Messy Kitchens, Recently published In America, it’s every bit as poignant and warm as its predecessor. Vogue spoke to Tandoh about the importance of meeting home cooks, how the pandemic has changed her cooking habits, and why she favors recipes that use illustrations rather than photos. Read the full interview below. Everything in this book looks delicious, but what’s the perfect recipe for you right now?
Ruby Tandoh: Oh my god, Honestly, it’s hard when you’re the one writing stuff because it doesn’t seem so shiny after you’ve done all the recipe testing and everything. However, I know I need to provide a convincing answer, so I’m going to say that one recipe that I’ve cooked over and over — despite being disappointed with how it generally works — is this Chili Crisp Dough. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, in the sense that I guess it’s is ridiculous, but it doesn’t taste ridiculous; it tastes very, very good. That recipe still excites me, and takes about five minutes to make, so I managed to throw it together even in its state of disarray.
How did it feel when the book was ready for publication compared to other projects?
is weird. I did recipe testing and all during the first lockdown and normally you would want to go through a cookbook where you can test the recipe on a friend and get a second opinion to see how the recipe fits into the rhythm of everyday life. I don’t feel that way about it because I’m indoors all the time and basically just cook for myself. So it’s a completely different way of doing things. I found the process challenging but also freeing because I could really focus on the form of the recipe and not just the spirit or trying to impress people with cooking or something like that. Just: what’s the recipe? What does life ask of us in how we cook these recipes? Even things like going into the supermarket have become an ordeal during lockdown, so I’m more attuned than usual to the various ways that cooking can become worrisome or the various anxieties that can pile up in it. It’s a very enlightening process, difficult at times, but also very exciting. It feels really exciting to really think about what a cookbook can do that might be different than what I’ve done before.