My Life in Food: André Hoinkis, master blender, Douwe Egberts
'I've bought the whole collection of Delia smith's books. She's fantastic'
Thursday 10 January 2013
André was born into a world of coffee. His grandfather started commercially roasting beans in 1944 in São Paulo, Brazil, and his grandmother would deliver it locally on a horse-drawn cart. After university and a stint at the family's firm, he joined Douwe Egberts in 1990. Since then he has risen to be the company's master blender, travelling the world trying new beans and finding new producers. His latest project is the pod-powered Philips Senseo Twist Coffee machine.
What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?
My coffee machine is, of course, most used. Each morning, I have a spicy, full-bodied coffee and then in the afternoon I usually have something more rounded and caramel. In the evening I use it for a decaf. It's always in use. My least used piece of equipment is my food processor. I like to cut ingredients by hand with my knives, which are all Japanese.
If you only had £10 to spend on food or drink, where would you spend it and on what?
If I could go anywhere it would be Ethiopia, to a coffee ceremony. It is a tradition where a plantation farmer invites you to his home. He roasts his coffee in a pan in front of you, stirring it with a special wooden stick, then grinds it down. If an Ethiopian coffee farmer invites you for a drink, don't just set aside 10 minutes – it's hours. I love that.
What do you eat for comfort?
I love drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate. It needs to be powerful – an 85 per cent cocoa chocolate is best. The combination of flavours is explosive.
If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
That's easy – I'd choose bread. You can have it with so many things – olives, parmesan cheese or bacon. It also smells fantastic. Though if I had to give up potatoes, I would miss French fries, especially from Belgium. Belgian fries are the best in the world.
What's your desert island recipe?
Ratatouille because it tastes good and makes the house smell fantastic when it's cooking in the oven. And after all, it is so simple, you just chop all the vegetables, add thyme, garlic, sage and olive oil to season it.
What's your favourite restaurant?
My favourite restaurant is Parigi in Brazil. Parigi offers two styles of food: classic French and classic Italian cuisine. The place is beautiful, and the way the food is presented is perfection. When I'm in Britain I love fish and chips and a pint of ale – simple but beautiful.
What's your favourite cookbook?
When I travelled to Europe I bought the whole collection of Delia Smith's cookery books. She is fantastic; almost everything I know in the kitchen I know from her.
Who taught you about coffee?
My grandfather. I spent a lot of time with him, learning the art of blending and tasting. When I was young, he'd hold my hand and bring me to the plantations, teach me about coffee. You could say I became a "coffee geek" because of him.
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