Join Xanthe at West Dean for food adventure

Xanthe Clay, food writer for the Daily Telegraph is coming to West Dean in April
Xanthe Clay, food writer for the Daily Telegraph is coming to West Dean in April
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Xanthe Clay is a food writer, Telegraph columnist and trained chef who decided to pursue her favourite pastime after selling cookery books.

Her focus is on simple recipes, straightforward flavours, and she says it is important for food ‘to taste like the best of itself’.

Xanthe will be visiting West Dean College in April, joining Rosemary Moon for a day of food adventure and discussion.

“I’m really excited about coming to Chichester, I love the area and I’m very excited about working with Rosemary Moon who I think is wonderful,” said Xanthe.

“I want to chat to people about what they get excited about, and learn from people – and I’ll be there to answer any questions.

“At risk of veering dangerously into the realms of parenthood, I want to talk about the issues of children’s food and how we must get them to eat vegetables.

“Food is something which has to be woven in to the fabric of life. People who say they don’t have time to cook, have made the decision to be like that. It might sound harsh, but you can find time if you want to.”

Xanthe is keen to talk to people about where their food comes from, discovering local suppliers and farmers she describes are unsung heroes.

“I want to talk to people about suppliers, and the importance of knowing where locally-sourced food comes from – making the most of it and making the most of cheap cuts.

“I get very excited about raw ingredients. Farmers are my heroes. They are so important and a lot of the time go unrecognised. It is easy to forget that it was the farmer who got the food to us.”

After the recent horsemeat scandal, many have lost faith in the food supply chain and supermarkets.

“Smaller independent shops now really have a good chance to get people through the doors, and have to work incredibly hard to keep them,” said Xanthe.

“Now is the time for them to shine, and really show us what they can do.

“It is not so much the expense of food that is the trouble in small shops. Most people work 9 til 5, and most shops are open from 9 til 5. Now where is the sense in that? Businesses like this need to be adaptable and they need to make sure their customer service is fabulous.

“It really is an amazing opportunity while supermarkets are running scared. But they will fight hard. Shops have to be ready for that.”

However, the horsemeat scandal isn’t the only topical issue affecting the industry. The economic downturn has made many change their eating habits, especially with the current cost of a basket of shopping.

“The downturn has also made us revert back, in terms of cooking, to the way our grandmothers would have cooked.

“Travel has influenced me a lot. Experiencing cultures where people don’t have as much as we do makes you want to strip back a bit, and we can learn from the way they cook.

“Foreign food really has become part of our repertoire, and we can learn a lot from what other countries do.

“Some restaurants have become more like theatre, using your senses of taste as well as your sight and hearing. Although this style of cooking is nevertheless valid, it is a completely different level to the food we cook at home.

“I love the transformation from raw ingredients to simple, delicious flavours. Cooking chicken legs in lemon, now that is really exciting.

“Food has to taste like the best of itself.

“Cooking is all about minimum input and maximum output. Throwing together simple and tasty ingredients, and getting the best possible result.”

n Food Adventures with Xanthe Clay will take place on Saturday, April 6.

The day, which is suitable for all, includes a two-course lunch cooked by Rosemary Moon. Tickets cost £72.

For more information visit www.westdean.org.uk