“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

It’s a cliché, but especially true in the world of cooking. All cooks do it, whether a novice taking their first intrepid steps in the kitchen, or a seasoned restaurant chef at the the top of their game, anyone with culinary aspirations will, at some point, gain inspiration from other chefs. My tour of some of London’s restaurants in May was not just an excuse to spend most of my days eating, drinking and catching up with friends – I needed (yes, needed) to eat out in all those fabulous places to feed my imagination, not just my appetite. And I know it was totally worthwhile, as it gave me so many ideas and that, ultimately, benefits everyone – particularly me and my guests. Polpo was a real goldmine and I’ve been happily romping my way through Russel Norman’s gorgeous book since I bought it a couple of weeks ago, bringing a little taste of Venice to north Cornwall.

Fennel, frisée & French bean salad with walnuts recipe (slightly adapted) from “Polpo” by Russel Norman

Flourless orange & almond cake recipe from “Polpo” by Russel Norman

Jamie Oliver’s books, especially the ones related to travel, such as “Jamie Does”, “Jamie’s Italy” and “Jamie’s America”, are full of recipes that I constantly revisit. I love Thomasina Miers’ “Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home” and for pure, unadulterated travel/food porn and gorgeous photography, I adore David Loftus’ compilation of recipes “Around the World in 80 Dishes”. To remind me of my San Francisco days, I was thrilled to be reunited with my copies of Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food” and Judy Rodgers’ “The Zuni Café Cookbook” (buried and temporarily lost for three long years in the bottom of a packing box) – I can almost taste the fabulous Californian produce in every sentence.

Mackerel & pomegranate ceviche recipe by Jamie Oliver

Cherry tart recipe by Bill Granger

I really enjoy cooking recipes developed by these brilliant chefs, who have a wealth of experience between them. Some I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person, others I feel as if I know, at least in the culinary sense, via their books. I hope to be joining their (very lowest) ranks soon as I am putting the finishing touches on my own recipe app for the iPad. Over the course of my career as a private chef, I have developed a collection of recipes for people who share my passion for food and healthy living. In any group of guests, often a number of them will have dietary restrictions, so I have adapted several of my favourite dishes in order that everyone around the table can share the meal and eat together. I’m hoping that my recipes take the worry and stress out of cooking for a group of people including those on special diets, and if any of my dishes become part of other cooks’ repertoires, I will be over the moon.

Photography by Beth Druce for my recipe app www.bethdruce.com