Interview: Your Magical Kitchen – Kate Marshall

Nusrat Ghani

So Kate, let’s start by you telling us how you got into cooking?

Cooking was a creative outlet for my mum. Dad was in the military and therefore away a lot. I was an only child, so mum and I spent a lot of time together in the kitchen. She was main course and I was dessert!

Have you always enjoyed making food from scratch?

I grew up in a community where cooking from scratch was the default. It never occurred to us to buy a ready-meal or take-out. Nowadays, I get the feeling that people think if you can cook from scratch, you are automatically a great cook. But I don’t think that’s true. I think you have to learn how to cook in order to cook from scratch. I didn’t find it a totally joy-free endeavour at the beginning…

What inspires your cooking: People, places, flavours, seasonal ingredients – or a combination of all these?

Places! I have been lucky to travel across the world (mostly for work, but also fun) so I love trying different cuisines and the origins of them. I am also a big fan of fusion cuisine – where you smash two cuisines together – like Nikkei cuisine (Japanese-Peruvian) and Mod Oz (Mediterranean-Asian) – which is actually easier than it sounds!

Are you a full-time cook or do you have another career too?

I have always cooked most days with a view to what some people would call ‘restaurant-quality’ food. That means I am in a recurring cycle of buying fresh foods and foodstuffs, cooking ahead, prepping foods, making marinades etc. You have to be super-efficient when you are cooking like this (which was the seed for the nine steps in the book), especially if you are juggling this with a grown-up day job! My career has spanned media and government (with a short stint running a small business in-between) and now the book is out I am looking forward to my next adventure!

What made you want to publish your personal cooking philosophy to share with others?

The ethos (and later, the book) did not emerge in a studied, linear way. It was a response to my own frustrations and failings learning to cook and cook well. I had been the reader who is interested in food and cooking and can follow a generic recipe, but couldn’t make the dishes they want to make, nor expand their culinary horizons. I was also the reader whose kitchen was far from organised. I had essential ingredients missing, foods past their use-by date and too few foods that went together. I wrote the book for people like my younger self in my 20s and 30s, for whom all the pieces of cooking haven’t yet fallen into place.

Why did you choose to call the book Your Magical Kitchen?

Two reasons. First, I really do think cooking is magical. Second, I could have called it My Magical Kitchen or In My Kitchen, but neither of those would have been the book I wanted to write. What I wanted to write was a book that took the reader through a personalised journey – hence, your, in the title.

 What would you say is different about your book compared to the likes of Jamie Oliver et al?

It’s a very different type of book compared to our national culinary treasures! It is more like a guide to shopping, eating and cooking. Think of it as a primer. Once you have the basics under your belt, you can roam all over the place. Because we live in a world based on images, included in the book are lots of visuals and graphics to make the journey easier for you, including a bunch of recipes that connect to the nine steps.

What are you enjoying most about seeing your book published?

Many people helped me become a reasonably decent cook. From those first years working in professional kitchens, through uber-foodie friends, to weekend cookery classes, I got better, happier and more joyful in my kitchen. While the book has almost overtaken my life, I did want to pay it forward for the next generation of cooks who also may not feel that confident in their kitchen. If only one person discovers something new, that would be a great day.

Your Magical Kitchen is published by Meze and priced £20. For more information visit or visit @yourmagical kitchen on Instagram

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