Restaurateur • Chef • Author • Mother • Wife • Umami Expert • Pursuer of Deliciousness
ARCHIVE ––––––––––––––––––––––––––March 2016 | DONT' LOOK BACK
Laura's latest book
AT HOME WITH UMAMI
2015 • Ryland, Peters & Small
March 16, 2016 / London
Started. Happy. Rewarded. Awarded. Liberated. Dicey. Angels. Investor. Earthquake. No Factory. No Stock. No Insurance. No worries. New factory. New Launch. Nobu. Excitement. Vegetarian. Umami. Tsunami. No ingredients. No Launch. Credit Crunch. De-list. Re-list. Mailing list. To-do-list. Grindstone. Nose down. Illness. Lucky Break. Foot Break. Tick Bite. Bed Rest. Restaurant. Refurb. Arm Break. Give Me A Break.
I set about losing myself in ‘flow’. Positive flow comes when you do something positive that you can lose yourself in, and unlike beloved box sets which were wonderful when I was really sick, task led flow is more creative and nourishing. So between a rock and hard place I wrote a book on my favourite fifth taste, umami, which I not surprisingly entitled ‘At Home with Umami’, which I was -literally. I was so happy to learn that shortly after the book release in October, America’s NPR kindly voted the fruits of my flow as one of the top 11 cookbooks of 2015, thank you so much T. Susan Chang you made my year!
In the sprit of the Dylan disasters, this wonderful news was soon followed by the fact that my book was now out of stock on Amazon.com and stuck on a trailer waiting to get into the Amazon warehouse in Illinois, which was apparently bursting at the seems. We sadly did not get into the warehouse in time to meet any of the holiday demand, there is a ‘go with the flow’ joke in there somewhere but I am still not quite able to see the funny side.
Once I could stand on two feet again without crutches, I moved from the bed to the stove to see if I could cram the flavours of favourite family recipes into useful and time saving foil fresh pouches. My Taste #5 Umami Sugo sauces launched in Waitrose in October, they are handy single serve pouches packed with real Italian sauces, made with real Italian tomatoes, in Italy and at under 70 calories a shot they make the ideal topping for pasta, grains, fish, meat, veg or chicken. Hard to type, let alone believe, but no sooner than the Sugos were in the bag, I slipped over, (not on a tomato) and broke my elbow.
Fortunately for me it was my left arm, allowing me to stir, but very challenging to chop none the less. Again there is a ‘wanna hand’ joke in there, but still not laughing. The upshot was that a really useful set of slow cooker ‘simmer sauces’ was born and they are called Pot Shots, and are scheduled for launch in Waitrose after the Spring break and again coming to the US soon (touch wood ;).
It is bloody challenging getting listings for new products in what is more often than not a pay to play industry. When you are a ‘Mom & Pop’ start up ,as is my business, it is almost impossible. The only currency I have against the Heinz’s, the Unilever’s and the Schwartz’s is that I am a person and I have passion and that I spend my margin on ingredients that are technically not viable business wise. I am also quite good at flavour, and spend as much time on making my flavours look good as I do on making them taste good, even if on occasion, the budget has meant drawing the packaging myself.
Meanwhile back in the boardroom. Selling delicious ideas from the heart and soul in the boardroom, can be one of the most dispiriting things that can happen to a person, especially a passionate person with their skin in the game and their beliefs, hopes and dreams on the line. My only advice, whatever the business, is if you do not stack up on the spread-sheets, do the next best thing and spread the love. I know, totally insane when you look at the image below, but I have found that amongst all that grey flannel hides the odd angel, albeit margin maintained.
I use this piece of earnest prose to sieve the angels from the suits. You have no idea, how hard it is to stand up and read an essay like this to the class. I have to be careful what I wear, as no one likes a sweaty girl in the boardroom.
DELICIOUSNESS IN MY DNA
I created this range firstly because I needed it. Like many parents, I am a working mother with one foot in the past, one foot in the future and continuously split in the present. Torn between the family values I desperately wish to instill, the nourishing meals I want to make, and the reality of today’s time constraints.
No, I was not going to be defeated in this feat to feed those I love the old fashioned way, and get into that bed as quickly as possible, happy in my heart that I had done my part. I needed an all flavour no mess arsenal of quality scratch cooking tools that I would be proud to feed those I love with – I call it cupboard love or love in the cupboard. The ingredients would be high quality, and as clean as my conscience. The deal was if my grandmother could not or would not have used it, it was not going in. As I cooked and ground and stirred and splashed I knew that once I had this in the bag, I would never have to mess my kitchen up again on a week night. With the help of just an onion these slow flavours would be the slowest tasting fast food money could buy.
These magic potions packed with umami deliciousness would allow me to buy what I call a weekly ‘jeans and white t-shirt’ shop which I would be able to accessorise at the last minute with my slow cooking flavours. In my home this shop looks something like this: seasonal vegetables, mixed proteins in trays (skinless boneless chicken thighs, lean ground beef/mince, fish fillets, chops) basmati rice, dried beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, couscous, sweet potatoes, potatoes.
I am a big believer in the saying you are what you eat, therefore your family is what you feed them. I prefer to buy to the best ingredients I can afford and perhaps eat a little less meat, but when we do I make sure it is the best I am able to provide for my family. There is no doubt that quality ingredients need quality flavours for a result that is so much more than the simple parts that make it up. Fill out stews with a can of cooked beans or chickpeas and chop in chunky seasonal veg for healthful mid week meals that taste like a hug in a bowl.
Invest in your friends, family and yourself and they will thank you for it, but above all when you are cosy in that bed in years to come and they are all out and about doing the things you no longer have the desire or the energy for, you will be able to look yourself in the i-pad and know that whatever they say, you will know, cross your heart, that you did your best.
Back to my horribilis annus; I have decided the only way to get over it (referring to last year) was to get rid of every trace of it. To that end (excuse the pun) I am currently on day 6 of one of Jason Vale’s (The Juice Master) brilliant juice feasts. I am supporting this with colonic hydrotherapy (google it, yes it’s not nice) and I can honestly say that my brain and my heart are slowing beginning to clear.
This beautifully photographed programme (photos by my husband Christopher, check out his work at www.christopherscholey.com) is all about good looking, healthful, flavour packed meals that can be prepared in less than ten minutes. Leave the flavours to us and you can keep all the flattery for yourself.
CLICK HERE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DOUBLE YOUR DELICIOUNESS WITH THE TASTE# 5 UMAMI DELICIOUS MAINTENANCE PLAN – and we will be sure to email you when the plan goes live.
From my heart to yours with love,