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THE MOST modest as well as one of the most accomplished British chefs, Simon Hopkinson keeps a low profile, preferring to confine himself to the kitchen at Bibendum and to concentrate on his cooking. His definition of job satisfaction is roasting a chicken perfectly, which is why his first book, published by Ebury at pounds 17.99, is called Roast Chicken and Other Stories.

Co-written with Lindsey Bareham, the book is organised by ingredient, with 40 of Hopkinson's favourite things listed alphabetically (aubergine, brains, ceps . . .) and discussed in idiosyncratic style, with appropriate recipes.

Hopkinson champions the uncomplicated approach: 'Good cooking depends on two things: common sense and good taste.' A poor cook, he reckons, can ruin the finest Bresse chicken, 'but a good cook can produce a good dish from any old scrawnbag of a chook.' Quite.

TEN DAYS after the annual Glenfiddich awards ceremony, those who came away empty- handed continue to grumble about the winners. None is more bellicose than Giles Kime, the editor of Decanter, who is furious that his rivals at Wine took the newly created title Magazine of the Year. It is surely no coincidence, he contends, that Joanna Simon, the Sunday Times wine correspondent and one of the four judges who selected the Glenfiddich winners this year, is also a contributor to and former editor of Wine. Suspecting favouritism, he's written to David Grant of Glenfiddich to tell him that his awards are in danger of losing credibility.

THE MOST remarkable feature of the shortlist for the magazine category of the Glenfiddich awards was its inclusion of Vogue Entertaining Australia, widely regarded as the most fabulous food magazine in the world. Or the most pretentious, depending on your perspective. It is one of the Gastropod's favourite antipodean publications; but why don't we have gastroporn mags of our own to nominate for awards?

The recent demise of Taste means that there are no longer any glossy, food-dedicated magazines left that aren't tied in to television (such as BBC Good Food) or distributed through supermarkets (such as Sainsbury's). Taste will no longer appear on a monthly basis, but the title might survive as an imprint, publishing occasional editions covering specialist aspects of food.

SOHO'S LATEST trendy hangout is a bar on Bateman Street, at the corner of Greek Street, called Riki Tik. Run by a posse of fashion and music business types, it opened two days before Christmas and closed in the middle of January, following a flood. In that brief time, Riki Tik picked up a nomination in the Best Bar category of the forthcoming Time Out awards and a degree of notoriety for its decor, which seems to have been inspired by the Seventies sci-fi series Blake's Seven.