cook book queen michele cranston

I went to the bookshop yesterday and was blown away by just how much shelf space is taken up by cookbooks. Everyone is obssessed with the idea of cooking - but, let's face it, how many of us make those tantalising recipes? Well, there's probably a couple of exceptions - for me, at least. Bill Granger's cookbooks and those by Michele Cranston. She was the pioneer, though, with all those beautiful - and, importantly, easy - recipes for Marie Claire. Michele is definitely the quiet achiever of all those "look at me" cooks and chefs. But that endears her to me even more.

Which five words best describe you? Smiley, chubby, busy, chatty and of course hungry!
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Cleaning a café - fortunately it was small and I soon started working as a waitress and then a cook. From there I paid my way through university and art school by working in many kitchens.
What’s your proudest career achievement? The marie claire cookbooks. Each one has been a labour of love and there is something wonderfully substantial and enduring about a book. I still get a kick when I see them lined up in bookshops.
What’s been your best decision? Agreeing to help Bill Granger set up bills. The early days of bills was lots of fun and I still miss the buzz of making simple yummy food and all the great people who either worked with me or became regulars and friends.
Who inspires you? People who care about the planet and go out of their way to do something about the bad decisions which we seem to keep making.
What are you passionate about? Good food. It’s a simple statement but encompasses complex issues... nutrition, sustainability, ethics.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Either simplicity or leave your ego at the door. In a funny way it’s the same answer!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? After seeing ‘Julie and Julia’ it would have to be Julia Child.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a vegetable garden like my grandfather’s. I’m great at the salad end but not so good at the seed, sow and slug beginning.
What are you reading? I’m re-reading Much depends on dinner by Margaret Visser but looking forward to the growing pile of ‘holiday reads’ next to my bed.

images courtesy of michele cranston and murdoch books; portrait by leslye coates

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