If you are lucky, you can find Eric Treuillé busying himself at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill, always an added bonus when visiting this gastronome’s dream. He is a charming man with a lot on his plate: five books with Dorling Kindersley so far and more planned for next year.
Eric Treuillé has brought Dorling Kindersley new found fame with his series of cookbooks with friends and each one is as good as the last. With Eric’s directorship of Books for Cooks, he has been perfectly placed to choose his co-authors, who are leaders in their particular field and as a result, his books have gravitas.Pasta and the Organic Cookbook are the most recent titles.
Eric left school at fourteen and was unsure what to do with his life. Two of his friends also decided to opt out, one went on to become a hairdresser and the other a chef. He stuck with the latter and his path in the culinary world was set before him. He apprenticed as a charcutier and then completed his studies in Paris. Asked if he regretted leaving school at such a young age, he replies ‘Absolutely not’. He seems to have led a charmed life and is not a man who looks backwards.
Books for Cooks
His involvement with Books for Cooks started as a Saturday job and just progressed from there. Eric not only directs the company but also teaches in the studio above the shop. He wants his students to enjoy cooking food in their own homes and for it to become a pleasurable pastime. A testament to the good teaching at BFC is the laughter that can be heard as you browse in the shop.
He devotes a considerable amount of time to teaching children to enjoy the art of baking. Last year he ran a number of workshops and children had fun with flour. But his overriding aim was to leave them with the memory of the smell of freshly baked bread. We can all remember coming across a smell and then being instantly transported back to our childhood and a memory of sticky buns in a granny’s kitchen.
Several cookery writers have started as food stylists and then gone on to write their own books and Eric is no exception. ‘Ten years ago I answered an advertisement looking for a chef with good hands’ and good hands or not, he got the job working with Anne Willan and Le Cordon Bleu cookery school. ‘Right from the beginning, I was keen to show food as it really was’ and his work for the Dorling Kindersley books prove that he has succeeded.
British Food versus French food, which is better?
Eric says ‘At the moment, you can find better food in England. It is easier to find a good meal here than in France’. I cannot believe that a man who is
still so French can afford Britain a victory over his homeland. 'May be not for long though.'
He adds that ‘We (the English) still have to come to grips with our produce. With the plethora of restaurant guides for eating out in Britain, there are very few guides to good produce which tell you where you can buy the best pork or carrots. We need critics for produce before we forget what real food used to taste like’.
At a Soil Association competition recently, Eric was judging organic sausages. They were good but lacked real flavour and he feels that producers must concentrate on this now.
I asked Eric to tell me what has inspired him the most in recent years. ‘Australia. They are about six months ahead of us. They are fortunate to have the best combination of fusion foods and the best ingredients in the world.’ He said that we should all be looking there for inspiration. ‘Their approach to food is innovative and this is reflected in their cookbooks and in the photography.’ It is interesting to note that Donna Hay’s books are never out of the Books for Cooks best sellers and Australian Vogue’s books too.
Where did you find that chopping board?
I had to ask Eric where he found his thick round chopping board as pictured in the Dorling Kindersley books. Some of you may have noticed that Jamie Oliver has the same sort. Eric found it in China Town in Soho in the basement of one of the grocers there. He advises buying the really thick ones as they last longer and don’t warp with washing. But before you all cause a stampede around Soho, let me get one first.
Who knows, but with a new book on Pizza next year, the world is Eric’s oyster.