I suppose if you learn how to cook from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Elizabeth David (French and Italian), Jane Grigson and a bit of Margaret Costa, it's not surprising that you end up with a Franco-Italo-British style. I've always found enough excitement, challenge and diversion in our own or our neighbours' cooking to make me happy to stay within European boundaries.
The regional nature of European cookery is, for me, what gives it its strength – although it's not hard to imagine these different strands becoming, over time, subsumed into a kind of pan-European style, which may well be led by us.
With the culinary world changing so quickly, however, there is a danger that our senses of proportion and balance will be sacrificed to the demands for novelty and the approval of fashion. The new, large restaurant-going public that has emerged over the past few years, along with the corresponding increase in media activity, has placed a premium on innovation and variety for their own sake. Continually creating new styles is seen by some as the best way to keep the interest of a population with a shrinking attention span that embraces each new sensation briefly, turns it into a cliché and rushes on to the next.
For this reason I prefer to work within the European tradition, where the influences of other cultures are absorbed more gently than they are in, say, Australia, New Zealand or in some modern British cooking. Where lemon grass has its place in the order of things, but not at the head of the queue. And where Thai green curry is part of a Thai restaurant menu rather than an English one.
'Classic Bull, an Accidental Restaurateur's Cookbook' by Stephen Bull is published by Macmillan, priced £20.Reuse content