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Retired professional chef Paul James

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Paul James (Recipes From My Travels) is a retired professional chef, an author and owner of three Facebook blogs and a website promoting businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry. In addition to writing articles and columns for newspapers and magazines, he works closely with charitable organisations such as Food cycle UK and the Birmingham Food Hub, where he helps promote awareness of how to feed low-income families in Birmingham and around the UK. Through his blogs, he tries to actively help colleagues in the hospitality and tourism industry that are affected by depression and suicidal thoughts.

Interview

Which country cuisine do you prefer?

I love simple, comfort food, my next two books I’m planning on writing will be about the culinary and cultural experiences of Corfu, then the local dishes of the Greek islands.

What is the unique gastronomic experience you had during your travels?

I adore researching the relationship between food and culture, especially the cooking styles and traditions of one region to another….so each gastronomic experience is a revaluation. But I enjoyed the countless tapas bars down Tapas Alley, old town Benidorm.

How travelling and tasting foreign cuisines have affected the way you cook?

It’s made me appreciate the simplicity of dishes made with great ingredients.

cooking recipe

What is the basic idea on your site “Recipes from my travels”?

The idea came on a trip to Kassiopi in Corfu just over a couple of years ago. I had to retire from the career I loved two years previously with a life-threatening illness at 46. I had totally fallen out of love with cooking in general, mainly because I resented not being able to cook at the level I was used to….then on this trip, seeing the culture and culinary delights of Corfu stirred something inside of me, so I started just recreating dishes from places I’d visited….now I’ve written four books and collaborated on another and written articles for newspapers and magazines around the world in the space of a couple of years.

Retired professional chef Paul James

Greek Gyros, Fish & Chips and Pasteis de nata

Before travelling to a destination, have you already done some research on their food and local cuisine?

No, not really, I just love wandering around local shops and markets…. and seeing what the local produce is available.

Do you prefer a Michelin star restaurant or a street food counter or a market?

Market 100% can’t beat going out for a stroll around a great farmers’ market.

Do you think that the cuisine of a country reflects its civilization and culture?

Yes definitely, one thing I love researching and that’s the traditional dishes of each country and how they evolved. Cornwall is a great example of this.

Do you have a leading chef in the kitchen field?

Rick Stein, his passion and enthusiasm are second to none, a lovely gentleman too. He offered my son and me a job when we were planning to move to Cornwall… unfortunately, not long after, I was taken ill and that fell through. Cyrus Todiwala is another chef that I admire.

If you could choose from all the countries you have visited, the first dish, the second and the dessert, what would they be?

That’s difficult, really is….I’m a simple chef that loves simple food with great ingredients….

First dish… Greek Gyros, so much so I bought my own small rotisserie so I could replicate at home. Second dish…. Fish & Chips from Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop in Padstow. Desserts…..Pasteis de nata, little egg tarts from Portugal.

Your new book “The Grandfather, my Grandad is the best chef in the world

You have written a book about Cornwall. What are the elements that distinguish its culinary tradition from the rest of England?

Great Britain and Cornwall” was written when I was recovering and still very ill. A series of dishes up and down the UK, I distanced Cornwall from Great Britain purely because of the strong Cornish heritage and independence….so much so some still talk in the native Cornish language.

Talking of books, what inspired you to write your new book “The Grandfather, my Grandad is the best chef in the world?”

As a retired professional chef, I believe that children should be encouraged with the help of an adult, from an early age. So I wrote a cookbook with my three beautiful grandchildren, Freya, Freddy and Summer-Rai. It’s full of fun, easy to follow recipes, plus a few humorous stories along the way. The idea behind the book came from Freya who kept on telling her teachers at school that would listen, that she helped her grandad cook, because “He is a chef”. They have helped cooking with me every time that they come to visit, so I thought that if they enjoyed it so much maybe it would help other parents, and grandparents enjoy quality time with their children and family to experience a bond through cooking.

Retired professional chef Paul James and its cover of the book

Future projects

Your book has the foreword of a top chef. How did you get it?

Yes, I was lucky enough to have one of the world’s best chefs and TV Celebrity ‘Cyrus Todiwala’ write a foreword for the book. I first met Cyrus a couple of years ago at the Good food show in Birmingham UK and we have kept in touch ever since on social media. I mentioned I was writing a book about “Adult friendly” recipes that you could cook with the children and cheekily asked if he could write a foreword for the book. After sending him my manuscript, he agreed, like the true gentleman he is. Plus, I’ve had many messages of support from personalities from all walks of life that may be included in my book.

In conclusion, what projects do you have for the future?

I am just about to write a cookbook on the culinary and cultural history of ‘Corfu’, a place very close to my heart, as this was the place where I decided to start writing my blog “Recipes from my travels” 

I’m also in search of investors to help take “Recipes from my travels” to the next level and become a functional business that will employ people in building up my next projects such as the manufacturing of herbs & spice seasonings and flavoured Sea salts that will remind customers of holidays abroad every time they create a dish, merchandise and property projects next year.

I am also going to continue writing books, food and travel articles for publications around the world and carry on trying to end the stigma of illnesses such as mental health issues and substance abuse.

Request a copy of Paul's new book

In short, to order a copy of Paul’s new book published by ‘ShieldCrest Publishing’ please click on this link… https://www.shieldcrest.co.uk/product/the-grandfather-my-grandad-is-the-best-chef-in-the-world/

In conlcusion if you want to read other interviews, look at our Blog. 

Author: Edson Chacón from Kindle Journeys.

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