Lennie Ware, co-author of Table Manners, answered some questions for our blog.
Lennie and her daughter Jessie have written a family-centric cookery book packed with anecdotes, recipes, photos and memories of their lives and the meetings they’ve had with all kinds of people on their chart-topping podcast (also called Table Manners.)
What prompted you to write the book? Was it a natural follow-on to the podcast?
People were interested in what we were cooking and kept asking for the recipes, so it felt like a natural fit to put it all in a cookbook.
Who do you think is your typical reader, if such a person exists? Who would you love to read your book?
I think Mothers and their children would be a typical reader, as Jessie and I’s relationship is relatable to other families. We made the recipes really easy to follow, so anyone and everyone can have a go, we hope it has a broad appeal because it’s so easy and accessible.
It’s very clear that you have a strong relationship - have you always been able to express yourselves so effectively with one another?
Yes we’ve always been very close, we have really similar personalities.
How do you choose your guests? Is there a waiting list to be on the podcast?
Some people choose us and approach us to come on the podcast after hearing certain episodes, and other times we approach people that we’d think would be really interesting. We’re really desperate to get a sportsperson on but we’re currently still trying!
Who chooses what to cook for each guest? Do you ever disagree and have to double-up on recipes?
Jessie and I discuss together and come up with a plan for what we’re going to cook depending on our guest and any dietary requirements. It depends who has the most time out of Jessie and I. For example, for tonight’s recording I’ve made a pudding and rice and Jessie has made the chicken and veg.
How do you come up with recipes which cater to vegetarians, vegans, people with food allergies, and of course carnivores? What’s your failsafe vegan or veggie meal?
I’m not strong on vegetarian food, however two members of the family have now become vegetarians so I’ve needed to up my game. I’m a natural carnivore but it’s important to think about what we’re eating and I’m trying harder to have more plant based recipes. Last night I made a Veggie chilli con carne (without the carne!) and it was delicious. It went down really well and was so tasty.
Food styling is very visual and Internet-friendly. Did you do all your own food design and styling in the books?
We had help with the food styling as I love things looking beautiful, but it’s not my strong point! Everyone laughs at me when I add an edible flower to a dish.
Some people cook to relax - how do you like to unwind?
I love to watch telly, read or drink red wine!
What’s your perfect festive meal? What would you choose for the food, who would you invite, and what’s the perfect location?
My perfect festive meal would be a middle eastern feast with lots of Ottolenghi recipes or a Christmas roast dinner. I would invite Gary Lineker, Marcus Ashford and would host it at Manchester United football ground!
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve eaten?
I’ve had so many memorable meals, but most people know that I’m really passionate about SPRING the restaurant in London. They serve the most delicious food.
Who’s your go-to cookery writer or recipe book?
My go to would be Ottolenghi, Nigella or Delia.
How did you decide which recipes went into the book?
We collated all of the recipes that we cooked on the podcast, the ones that went down the best and were most memorable.
What do you always have in your kitchen cupboard? What’s your standby supper dish?
I always have tinned tomatoes in my cupboard, and my standby supper dish would be Pasta Puttanesca.
What was your favourite book as a child? Do you prefer paper books or e-books?
I love a paper book, my favourite book as a child was Little Women.
What are you reading at the moment? What book(s) would you recommend to a friend?
I’ve just finished reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid which I really enjoyed so would definitely recommend.
Which authors or food writers are on your go-to bookshelf?
I have zillions of cookbooks from Ottolenghi to hairy bikers.
Thank you very much for answering our questions. We wish you every success with the book.