Belfast Telegraph

Gizzi Erskine: Food is in my blood... deep down, it was the thing I was meant to do

Chef and television presenter Gizzi Erskine talks to Lucy Hubbard and Ella Walker about her earliest memories and her unusual previous career choice

From professional body piercer to cookbook author, restaurateur and TV gal, Gizzi Erskine's career has been rather impressive.

Her latest recipe collection, Slow, is packed with stews and hearty meals worth putting time into and will fully see you through the colder months.

We caught up with her to grill her on the important things...

Her earliest cooking memory is...

"My earliest is being in Scotland and lying on a tartan rug with my mum gardening and smelling soil. Raw potatoes - just that really earthy vegetable smell.

"Most people talk about the sweet peas or the smell of cooking toast or crumpets, and mine's the smell of really fresh, fresh, fresh vegetables. I could have only been about 18 months old."

Her biggest culinary disaster is...

"I had some guests over and I was recipe testing for one of my books. I was cooking slow shoulder of goat, which is actually in Slow. I spoke to a very good friend of mine who I trust loads, and I asked him, 'How long do I put it in for?' and he said, 'Temp 120 for six hours'. Now, a shoulder of goat has a lot less fat in it than lamb and it's also twice the size, but I trusted him, because he's a genius.

"So, put I it on, had guests coming round and it wasn't actually ready until four in the morning! And we all just stayed up - it was a really fun evening and the food was actually pretty great."

She switched a career as a body piercer to become a chef...

"I love piercing, I really wanted to be a piercer and I was really successful at it. It's the person I am and the people who I hang around with, you know?

"We're all into rock and I studied really hard for it - I studied for three years.

"I studied the anatomy of the body and took every class that I could, anything that I could do to improve myself within that industry. That's really how I look at everything in my life, but I really enjoyed it and I'm still friends with all the people who I was working with in the shop - they're my mates, my real mates.

"But food is in my blood. I did piercing for eight years almost and it was time for a change. Food was the thing that I guess, deep down, I was always meant to do."

Her culinary career highlights include...

"I can't pick one, I'm too lucky.

"My top three would be: the response to Mare Street Market (Erskine's London restaurant, deli and food emporium); the day we opened Pure Filth (her pop-up restaurant offering 'healthy food for hedonists') at the Tate to queues, like enormous queues around the block.

"And also when I got the job as the youngest Sunday Times cook and I managed to hold on to that title for three years - I'm very proud of myself for those three things.

"But also there's little things. Every single day, there's something that happens in my life that makes me go, 'God, my life is so mental, what the hell have I done to even deserve this?' Sometimes not in a good way, but mostly in a great way."

Slow by Gizzi Erskine, published by HQ, £25

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Slow by Gizzi Erskine, published by HQ, £25

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