Reading (because that is what is done with Hopkinson’s cookbooks) Roast Chicken and Other Stories (1994) reminds us just what an engaging writer he really is. He tells, of course, how to make one great dish or another, but then goes that extra step and reveals what that dish actually is.
Yes, all the mechanics are there—ingredient choice, strategies and technique, useful tips, hints and shortcuts, but the extra that comes through is his personal affection for the finished product. Never hesitating to let you know that the goal is a happy palate, he makes this food because he clearly just loves it and wants to share it. “It’s so good,” he exclaims now and again.
Oeufs en cocotte, he notes, used to be served at Lacy’s, a favorite London restaurant—”two eggs served up in those little brown and white dishes with handles,” adding that he, himself, “always had three.” Arranged by key ingredient (from asparagus to brains to scallops), the book also includes superb little essays of appreciation and valuable practical approaches.
British born Hopkinson (1954– ) is an affable fellow of many talents, known to everyone in the 1990s as a star chef (the restaurant Bibendum in London was the place to go), and an accomplished writer. This book, his first, was Britain’s Glenfiddich Award winner and, to the surprise of many, an international best seller.
Becoming, in time, a television personality and a fixture on BBC for many years, he rapidly became well regarded in the U.S. and elsewhere for his unpretentious manner and for the food he cooked, contrasting markedly with certain larger-than-life superstars known for their antics.
Hopkinson retired from restaurant work and had a regular column with The Guardian, to which he still contributes occasionally. He ultimately wrote half a dozen books, but Roast Chicken is surely his best known, written in association with London food critic Lindsey Bareham, who also shared authorship on The Prawn Cocktail Years (1997).
The copy we offer is the first UK edition. The book is in Very Good condition, the jacket showing minimal fraying at the head of the spine and a small tear to a fore edge corner.