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Bill Sewell, co-founder and owner of Michaelhouse Cafe in Cambridge, to release new cookbook





An image of Bill Sewell from his new cookbook
An image of Bill Sewell from his new cookbook

Bill’s Kitchen is the title of chef and restaurant owner Bill Sewell’s third book, a project he has funded via Kickstarter.

The cover of Bill Sewells new cookbook
The cover of Bill Sewells new cookbook

Food has always been a big part of Bill Sewell’s life. Brought up above his parent’s antique shop off Kensington Church St in London, his mother excelled when it came to cooking delicious homemade food.

In between studying for his history degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, Bill’s own baking was snapped up by a local healthfood shop, leading to his first cooking job for a vegetarian café in Westminster.

After completing his business and accountancy training with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Bill returned to cooking, working as a commis and pastry chef at Launceston Place restaurant, before opening his award-winning The Place Below, in the crypt of St Mary-le-Bow, in 1989.

In 1997, he set up the Café @ All Saints in Hereford. The Michaelhouse Café in Cambridge followed in 2008.

An image of Bill at his Hereford cafe
An image of Bill at his Hereford cafe

Originally vegetarian, Bill and his cafés now enthusiastically embrace an omnivorous diet and are proud to use carefully sourced local and free range chicken, pork, game, lamb and beef.

Bill’s Kitchen follows the success of his earlier books, Food from the Place Below (1996) and Feasts from the Place Below (1999).

On the subject of his third book, Bill said: “The first two books were written while I was vegetarian and while the cafés were vegetarian, and I’ve become very meat-eating and omnivorous – and the cafés have as well.

“Overall, it’s the best stuff from my 30 years of cooking – that’s what the book’s about. Our food and my cooking is very much the opposite of what you see on Masterchef and Great British Menu. It’s straightforward but very good quality homemade food.

Lemon shortbread, recipe from Bill Sewells new cookbook
Lemon shortbread, recipe from Bill Sewells new cookbook

“Something like the salted caramel brownie recipe, for example, which is a recipe we’ve been using for years. It comes partly from a New York bakery, uses 70 per cent chocolate, which is much higher quality chocolate than most cafés would use, and it’s just a delicious thing. That’s kind of where we’re coming from.”

Bill added: “Another example would be the jerk chicken, and a good selection of variations – tamarind and chilli chicken and Mexican chicken, for example – where we marinate free range chicken overnight in a chilli spice mix, and then the chilli’s cooked on top of rice.

“You’re left with this incredibly chickeny, spicy rice with the crisp skin of the chicken on top – it’s from a really well-looked-after chicken from a farm in Herefordshire.”

Asked how he ended up using Kickstarter, Bill replied: “That was really interesting. My first two books were published by Harper Collins, and that was great. They know what market they’re aiming at, they know what format they want the book to be, they know how many recipes they want it to have and so on.

Chocolate and chilli pot, recipe from Bill Sewells new cookbook
Chocolate and chilli pot, recipe from Bill Sewells new cookbook

“But I’m now in my mid-50s and so I’ve got a much clearer idea of what I want the book to be like – and with Kickstarter I’m completely in control of it. I’ve got a team of designers whom I’ve worked with for many years, a photographer near where I live, an editor who’s worked with the designer a lot. It’s a team project.”

The ambitious Kickstarter crowdfunding appeal concluded this week, with Bill and his team having reached their target a while ago.

Bill concluded: “The other thing about Kickstarter is you’re not asking anybody for charity – people are getting something in return for the money they put in. They’re either buying an advance copy of the book, or they are getting a barista course from us – or I’ll do a bread course at my home, or I’ll spend a day talking to somebody about their café plans...”

There’s still time to support Bill’s mission to publish his ‘greatest hits’ at kickstarter.com/projects/646492003/bills-kitchen-my-very-best-recipes-from-a-life-of, or to pre-order your own copy.

Salted caramel brownie, from Bill Sewells new cookbook
Salted caramel brownie, from Bill Sewells new cookbook

The book is scheduled for release in October.

michaelhousecafe.co.uk



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