Robert Jacob Interview
Professional chef, Robert Jacob swapped the high-flying fashion world for a chef's apron so he could follow his dreams of becoming a kitchen professional.
Using his knowledge of detail and precision, gained from working in the fashion industry, he applies his meticulous taste to his dishes.
Laura Packham, Gourmandize UK & Ireland's Editor, got the chance to talk to him about his passion.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU FIRST DECIDE TO MAKE THE LEAP FROM FASHION DESIGNER TO CHEF? WHY?
My mother is French/Portuguese and loved to cook so you could say I grew up around food. But it was when I was working in Milan as a designer that I fully realised my passion.
I used to love wandering around the markets, sampling and buying fresh seasonal produce and then going back and preparing meals for the people I shared a house with. I remember that it was when we had just finished a collection and having a party to celebrate and I was looking after the food and I thought to myself "I'd love to do this as a job" after that the seed was sown.
HAS YOUR BACKGROUND IN FASHION AIDED YOUR COOKING?
By all means, a very big "Yes". As a designer your eye is trained to focus on attention to details. I think it is very important for food to be visually attractive as it is the apperance that makes you want to eat it in the first place and of course, it has to taste good too. Again like in fashion, food is seasonal too and my firm advice to any food enthusiast is to take advantage of local produce while it is in season and fresh.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY INVOLVING FOOD?
As a very young child of 6 years of age, being on the look-out for the gardener to go and share his bacon butty at lunchtime.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON IN THE KITCHEN?
I have two: good knives & a microplane grater.
WHAT ARE YOUR 'GO-TO' DISHES WHEN HOSTING A DINNER PARTY?
It depends on the season and the occassion. In Spring, it would be shoulder of Wicklow lamb, For a casual get-together with friends, it has to be a Tagine. Whatever I choose, I must be able to prep most of it in advance, as I fully intend to enjoy the party as well.
WHAT CHEFS DO YOU ADMIRE MOST AND WHY?
In Ireland, it must be Ross Lewis from Chapter One. I like the way he cooks; concentrating on clean fresh flavours using the best seasonal produce. I am also a great fan of Heston Blumenthal & Ferran Adria both for their creativity and innovative approach to food.
WHAT HAD BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FOOD FLOP?
Must be when I was a comis - a chef in a Michelin star kitchen - I mistook salt for bread soda and put so much of it in that the bread was inedible and we were just about to start service.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TIPS TO HAVING A SUCCESSFUL FOOD BLOG?
I started the blog when I was studying Journalism as I wanted to write about food. Primarily the blog was a testing ground and the next thing, it just took off. In some ways I suppose I ran before I could walk but the response has been great and I am very grateful.
My main tip would be to write about what you believe in and to stick to your views, for they are indeed valuable.
WHICH GOURMANDIZE UK RECIPE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
I particually like the left over Beef Pho recipe from tobyelkington. I hate food waste and always admire people who can stretch left overs into a completely different meal and with different flavours.
ANY LAST WORDS OR MESSAGEs FOR OUR READERS?
Recipes are great but they are only a guideline. It's all about confidence and you shouldn't be afraid to take risk with your cooking. Experiment and make it your own.