Navigating Around My Blog

Hello and welcome to my food blog. I'm Aidan Brooks, a 22-year-old chef from the East End of London. I graduated from Westminster Kingsway College in summer 2007 with a Professional Chef Diploma and emigrated to Barcelona, where I trained at two of the city's best Michelin-starred restaurants. In 2009 I moved to the Community of València to join the team of Paco Morales, Spain's "Chef of the Year 2009" at Juan Carlos Ferrero's Hotel Ferrero, where I was appointed Pastry Chef. This year I returned to the place of my birth to be part of the exciting project to start up a fine dining restaurant in the East End. I'm now taking a break for a while, before my next adventures in cooking.

(or "home" on my navigation bar above) to go straight to my latest posts. Otherwise, follow the individual links below (or the links in my navbar and sidebar) to specific parts of my blog.
Me, photographed in 2007This year I returned to my roots in the East End of London where I'm running a kitchen section for Nuno Mendes at his exciting new venture, Viajante, at the hotel which was formerly Bethnal Green Town Hall. I started blogging in August 2006, before starting my final year at college. My blog traces my progression from amateur home cook to the professional fine dining chef that I am today. It's brought me into contact with many wonderful people - home cooks, foodies and gastronomes, food writers and fellow professional chefs. And some people who have fundamentally altered the course of my development. I try to repay some of the support I've received by helping others - especially young people from non-privileged backgrounds - to appreciate food and to develop careers in this amazing business.

A Bit About Me And My Training To Become A Chef

(or "about me" on my navbar) to visit the part of my blog where I talk about my background in Hackney, how I studied at Junior Chefs' Academy at Waltham Forest College as a 15-year-old and how I prepared for life as a student chef. In this part of my blog (or "where i'm at" on my navbar) I talk about my formative years, describe what life was like at Westminster Kingsway College studying for a Professional Chef Diploma, why I migrated to Barcelona to train at Carles Abellan's Comerç 24 where I first became a chef de partie, to Martín Berasategui's Lasarte and Francisco Morales' Restaurante Ferrero.
Hotel Ferrero

The Landmark Hotel (or "work experience" on my navbar) for information about the restaurants where I learned to cook, starting with Restaurante Lanútus in Laúndos, near Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal and Joy Authentic Indian Cuisine in Hackney - and progressing to The Landmark Hotel and The Providores & Tapa Room in Marylebone and to Zuma and Boxwood Café in Knightsbridge. There are also links to the restaurants at which I've worked in Catalunya, where I trained at La Gigantea at the Hotel Mas Passamaner in Reus and at Comerç 24 and Lasarte at the Hotel Condes, both in Barcelona, before moving to Bocairent in Valencia to work with Paco Morales at Restaurante Ferrero and eventually returning to London to become part of the startup team at Viajante.

for my People And Places section, where I talk about the people who have influenced me as a young trainee chef, including Jafoor "Ali" Ahmed of Joy in Hackney, Professor Cyrus Todiwala MBE, restaurateur at the incredible Café Spice Namasté in Aldgate and Peter Gordon of The Providores & Tapa Room in Marylebone - the man whose cooking changed my view of food completely and irreversibly. Not forgetting the brilliant chef Nuno Mendes of Bacchus in Hoxton, within walking distance of the house where I lived all my childhood. More recently, Albert Adrià of Inopia and lately of El Bulli and Paco Torreblanca of the Torreblanca pastry empire, both of whom I had the honour to cook for recently. I'm also pictured at the celebration party when we won our Michelin star at Comerç 24 and outside every gastronome's Mecca - the Adrià family's unique, amazing El Bulli.Albert Adrià

Post topics

As well as being able to read my latest blog posts on my home page, you can navigate back to earlier posts by clicking on "Older Post" at the foot of the main home page section and forward again by clicking on "Newer Post". But because there are over 300 posts on my blog, I've created archives that allow you to find what I've posted by topic. These clickable links are in my sidebar to the right.
Cooking in the kitchens at Comerç 24
Professional work
Plating up in the kitchens at Westminster Kingsway
My former college
Experimenting at home - soft saffron gel with purée and air of beetroot
Experimental cooking
Classical Spanish cooking - butifarra y berberechos con patatas bravas
Classical home cooking
Eating doubles - Trinidad's great street food
Food items and snacks
Anandita Tamuly from Assam eats 60 ghost chillies in 60 seconds
Food news & reviews
Dining out on modern tapas with friends and family
Restaurant reviews
Sex and food reach perfect climax in Tampopo
Food movies and books
London's wonderful Borough market
Food markets & shops
Me with Kiera Knightly (celebrity fantasy)
Celeb chefs & TV
Taking a break on the Costa Brava with friends
Friends & family
My idea of populist nonsense - "Britney Spears Cooked My Hamster"
Food blogging & writing

Video clips

Professor Paulina Mata demonstrating (or "videos" on my navbar) for an index to posts that are based around or include video clips that I've either made myself or borrowed from elsewhere. There's a wide variety of clips including ones of me with foodie friends, videos made in college, edited clips from TV cookery programmes, foodie film clips and a host of others. I host most of my video clips on YouTube, where one of them has received almost a million hits. It's the wonderful Richard Dimbleby with his 1957 April Fools' Day spoof "The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest". This and many other video clips were selected for their humour.


(or "restaurants" on my navbar) for the restaurants section of my blog, where I talk about the great places in which it's been my privilege to dine. Eating is a tremendously important part of learning to cook - it sharpens the palate, inspires creativity, establishes a framework within which to judge your own cooking and sets goals for your future achievement. In this section of my blog you will find my review of dining out in Barcelona and links to my posts about the great restaurants I've experienced, including El Celler De Can Roca in Girona, Cinc Sentits in Barcelona, Mugaritz in San Sebastián and Quique Dacosta in Dénia.
The Guggenheim, Bilbao


Thai White Asparagus Soup, Lobster & Curry Salt (or "recipes" on my navbar) for my recipes section. I'm not really into recipes and if that's what you are looking for there are far better blogs than mine, such as Elise Bauer's Simply Recipes. In the pro kitchen, new dishes are documented as dish specs, but this is more for costing purposes. We have to learn every detail of each dish - there isn't time to refer to recipes during prep, let alone during service. When cooking at home, I use my knowledge of produce, my kitchen techniques and my palate to produce dishes. If I use a recipe, it is only as a guide - with the exception of baking, where ratios are all-important. I've documented some of the dishes that I prepared at home, mostly while still living in London, and I've produced photo recipes showing how you can make these meals yourself.

Herbs and spices

(or "spices" on my navbar) for my spices section. I had to suspend work on this not long after I started due to pressure of exams, but I've been gradually getting it up to date during the past couple of years and the first phase is now complete. Here you will be able to find information on many different spices, with a spice index, a spice overview table that lists each one and provides a summary of characteristics and main uses and tables sorting spices by family group and by dominant flavour.

The spices that I've written up are:
Herbs and spices
Ajwain, Allspice, Almond, Angelica, Anise, Annatto, Asafoetida, Barberry, Basil, Bay leaf, Bay leaf, Indian, Bay leaf, Indonesian, Bergamot, Boldo leaf, Borage, Bush tomato, Camomile, Capers, Caraway, Cardamom, black, Cardamom, green, Celery, Chameleon plant, Chaste tree, Chervil, Chicory, Chilli, Chives, Cicely, Cinnamon, Chinese, Cinnamon, Indonesian, Cinnamon, Sri Lankan, Cloves, Coconut, Coriander, Bolivian, Coriander, common, Coriander, long, Coriander, Vietnamese, Costmary, Cress, garden, Cress, water, Cumin, Cumin, black, Curry leaf, Damask rose, Dill, Epazote, Fennel, Fenugreek, Fenugreek, blue, Fingerroot, Galangale, greater, Galangale, lesser, Gale, Garlic, Garlic, bear's, Ginger, Grains of paradise, Horseradish, Hyssop, Juniper, Kaffir lime, Kewra, Kokum, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon balm, Lemon grass, Lemon myrtle, Lemon verbena, Lime, Liquorice, Lovage, Lovage, black, Mace, Mahaleb cherry, Mango, Marjoram, Mastic, Mexican pepperleaf, Mugwort, Mustard, black, Mustard, white, Myrtle, Nasturtium, Nigella, Nutmeg, Olive, Onion and shallot, Orange, Oregano, Oregano, Mexican, Pandanus leaf, Paprika, Paracress, Parsley, Pepper, black, white, green, red, Pepper, cubeb, Pepper, long, Pepper, negro, Pepper, pink, Pepper, Sichuan, Pepper, Tasmanian, Pepper, water, Perilla, Pomegranate, Poppy seed, Pumpkin oilseed, Purslane, Rice paddy herb, Rocket, Rosemary, Rue, Safflower, Saffron, Sage, Salad burnet, Sassafras, Savory, Sesame, Southernwood, Spearmint, Star anise, Sumac, Sweet clover, Tamarind, Tansy, Tarragon, French/Russian, Tarragon, Mexican, Thyme, Tonka bean, Turmeric, Vanilla, Wasabi, Wattleseed and Zedoary.

My Australian Gastronomy Project

A key part of my Professional Chef Diploma involved a study of the gastronomy of an allocated country and the formulation of a three-course gastronomic menu suitable for a top restaurant. The second stage was to research the national cuisine and its historical development and to justify the menu recommendations, leading to a detailed report, a presentation and a practical. I was allocated Australia and I learnt a huge amount about Australian history, culture and gastronomy.

My Australian gastronomy report (or the link in the "topics" section of my side bar) for my report on the developing cuisine of Australia. My thesis was a controversial one - that two centuries and more of racial division in Australia was the principal factor retarding the development of the national food culture. But it's not all bad news, because I discovered the amazing world of New Australian cuisine, drawing on the best of techniques and products from the settler and indigenous communities as well as from the outside world.

In this section of my blog I publish my college report in four sections, including my Australian Gastronomy Menu, along with links to other posts I've published about Australian food.

Other bits of my blog

I've covered almost all of my blog in this brief tour, but there are a few other bits floating around which you might like to visit. If you can read Portuguese, click here to read about my Portuguese "extended family". My CV can be found here, along with information about my school results, my qualifications, my references and the countries I've visited.

Food events in the UK for May 2010

At the foot of my home page is the UK Food Bloggers' Association Calendar, with links to some the key food events in the UK during May:

Alde Valley Spring Festival across the Alde Valley, East Suffolk
3 Harbours Seafood Festival at The Greenbelt, Prestonpans, Scotland
Baishakhi Mela in Weavers Field, London
Bath Coffee Festival in the city centre, Bath, Somerset
Big Apple Blossomtime in Much Marcle, Herefordshire
Bristol Eco Veggie Fayre at The Ampitheatre, Bristol, Somerset
British Asparagus Festival in and around the Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire
British Sandwich Week across the UK
British Tomato Week across the UK
Catering & Hospitality Forum at Whittlebury Hall, Towcester, Northants
Christchurch Food And Wine Festival various venues around Christchurch, Dorset
Coeliac UK Free For Tea? across the UK
Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill, nr. Brockworth, Gloucs
Cranbrook Flour Show at Union Mill, The Hill, Cranbrook, Kent
Dales Festival Of Food And Drink in Leyburn, Wensleydale, N. Yorkshire
Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair at Kedleston Hall, Kedleston, Derbyshire
Derbyshire Food Festival at venues across Derbyshire
English Wine Week across England
Evening Of Kentish Food at Amos Hall, The Market, Ashford, Kent
Fal Fish Festival at Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall
Festival Of Food - Tickle The Taste Buds in Stokeinteignhead, Newton Abbot, Devon
Flavours of the West at Milsom Place, Bath, Somerset
Foodies Festival on Hove Lawns, Hove, East Sussex
Foodies Festival at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
Free Range Pig In A Day at The Anchor, Walberswick, Suffolk
Fruity Friday across the UK
Get Into Artisan Baking at The School of Artisan Food, Welbeck, Notts
Get Into French Baking at the School of Artisan Food, Welbeck, Notts
Gourmet Wild Food Weekend at the Fat Hen, St Buryan, Truro, Cornwall
Henley Food Festival in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Introduction to Beekeeping at St Paul’s Church, Clapham, London
Leek Fine Food Spring Fest at The Market, Leek, Staffordshire
Letchworth Food Festival in Letchworth, Hertfordshire
Loch Fyne Food Fair in Clachan, Cairndow, Argyll, Scotland
London Food Link Spring Network Do at Lumen Cafe, Tavistock Place, London
Ludlow Spring Food Festival at Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, W. Midlands
Making Local Food Work for People and Planet at Friends Meeting House, Manchester
Manchester Food and Drink Summit at the Ramada Hotel, Piccadilly, Manchester
National Bread Week across the UK
National Escargot Day various locations across the UK
National Honey Week across the UK
National Real Bread Maker Week across the UK
National Vegetarian Week across the UK
National Watercress Week across the UK
Normanby Hall Food Festival at Normanby Hall, Scunthorpe, S. Humberside
Parkland Alfresco Food Festival in Swinton Park, Masham, N. Yorkshire
Power to the Farm at Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucs
Randwick Cheese Rolling in Randwick, Gloucestershire
Real Food Festival at Earls Court 1, S. Kensington, London
Royal Windsor Food and Drink Festival in Home Park, Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Slow Food Cornwall Bread Day in Ladock, Cornwall
Southport Food and Drink Festival in the town centre, Southport, Cheshire
Spirit of Summer Fair in Olympia Grand Hall, S. Kensington, London
Streatham Food Festival various locations in Streatham, London
Taste Of Edinburgh at Inverleith Park, Edinburgh, Scotland
Tewkesbury Food & Drink Festival on Vineyards Playing Fields, Tewkesbury, Gloucs
Torquay Food And Arts Festival in Market St., Torquay, Devon
Watercress Festival in Alresford, Hampshire
West Wales Food Festival in the National Botanic Gardens, Carmarthen, Wales
Wild Food Taster Day at the Fat Hen, St Buryan, Truro, Cornwall
Wrexham Food Festival behind the Library, Wrexham, Clwyd, Wales
Yorkshire Game Fair at Harewood House, Leeds, W. Yorkshire

to learn more about these calendar events.