Le Cordon Bleu London alumna Jane Lovett graduated from the school in the mid-1970s and has since been working as a food stylist and hosts regular cookery demonstrations. In this interview, we learn what inspired her to cook and the theme behind her new cookbook “The Get-Ahead Cook” published by Apicius and even offers some advice for upcoming food professionals.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary arts?
I can only think that my desire to cook stems from greed! I have always enjoyed cooking and all things food related. I get as much pleasure from planning and shopping for ingredients as I do from cooking and eating them. As soon as I’ve finished one meal, my thoughts turn to what the next one will be and it has always been this way! I find cooking therapeutic and writing and testing recipes are what I enjoy doing most.
Why did you decide to enrol at Le Cordon Bleu London and which course did you study?
I knew Le Cordon Bleu offered an unparalleled training and I wanted to learn traditional French cooking techniques and skills from the best teaching chefs. I was after a solid culinary grounding – a foundation that I could delve into, and one which would stand me in good stead throughout a career in cooking. I studied a Le Cordon Bleu Diploma which ran for one academic year.
What stuck out to you the most about the course and how did it help you in your career?
The huge variety of cuisines and techniques that we learnt - I really don’t think there was a culinary stone left unturned! To this day these still come in handy, such as being faced with a sea urchin at a photoshoot recently and knowing how to prepare it. Understanding the correct way of doing something, and the science behind it, helps me when writing recipes and also to rectify mistakes and avoid disasters!
I knew Le Cordon Bleu offered an unparalleled training and I wanted to learn traditional French cooking techniques
How did you start writing cooking books and what inspired you for your latest book?
I have always been a voracious writer of recipes, which I use largely for the demonstrations I give around the country. During these demonstrations I am always asked why I don’t write a book, so that is where it began really. I have learnt, through the demonstrations, that most people want to be able to prepare recipes ahead as much as possible, or at the very least one or two elements of a recipe, especially when entertaining. So to this end I write most recipes as such, and these became the theme of my latest book.
What would you say was your biggest challenge in developing your career as a food writer?
I have been cooking for many years now and in lots of different forms – catering, teaching, food styling, commercial recipe production, recipe testing and now demonstrating and writing, so it has been a natural progression. Getting a book published is not easy as publishers, understandably, mostly favour cooks and chefs with high media profiles. In the absence of this the theme of the book needs to be arresting, different and stand out from the crowd - something that appeals to home cooks and draws them to the book.
Please share some advice or tips for the new generation of food professionals.
I don’t think I’m in a position to offer advice! However, I think experience is everything. If unsure as to which direction to specialise in I would suggest trying as many different genres as possible, until you find the one you enjoy most. Nothing will be wasted and you’ll be gaining experience and knowledge along the way, which I think is key to cooking. And expect to work hard – cooking for a living isn’t easy but it’s very rewarding, and people will always need to eat!
Jane Lovett's book "The Get-Ahead Cook" has been published by Apicius Publishing and is available to buy online.