Credo: Rachel Khoo
'I love a full English fry-up, but it's a bit hard to find one in Paris'
Baking is a science If you don't weigh the ingredients properly, it'll be a disaster, but that precision does not come naturally to me. When I first moved to Paris to do a Cordon Bleu patisserie course, in 2006 , I was like, “Just throw it in and stir it.” I was the clown in the class, never taking it too seriously. But then I learnt that if, say, you make a macaroon, the sugar syrup has to be exactly 118C; if it's not hot enough, the meringue will be too floppy.
I'm not good at taking orders It's why I never worked in a traditional restaurant environment as it's a bit of a boys' club in Paris and there's not much creativity unless you're the head chef. My restaurant Little Paris Kitchen [located in Khoo's apartment], only had space for a table for two, but it came about as it allowed me to test recipes on people while I was writing my cookery books.
I've knocked on a lot of doors to get where I am When [The Little Paris Kitchen] was first televised, people thought I must have had a rich dad who brought me an apartment in Paris and all this was given to me. But everything I have has arrived through hard work; getting up at 5am to peel carrots, calling publishers and TV production firms...
It's nerve-racking cooking for the French I like to break rules, play around with food, but they don't like people messing with their dishes, so I'd get in a fight with some people about how you cook a coq au vin. I like to take all the ingredients for it and put them on a barbecue, making a summer version that's less heavy. But there are French grannies out there horrified by it.
I'm always defending British food The French say, “They only know how to cook roast beef.” But while Paris offers great French, North African or Vietnamese food, in London you can get any kind of food from any nationality.
I love a fry-up A breakfast croissant is great but sometimes I fancy a full English: bacon, sausages, fried eggs and beans, but it's a bit hard to find in Paris. I go to Le Bal Café, which is run by two British women and also serves a wonderful steak and Guinness pie.
The French don't know how to queue It's chaotic: there's queue-jumping and I'm like arghhhh! The British, they know how to queue orderly, there's some system to it.
There is a growing market for British food in Paris Marks & Spencer reopened on the Champs-Elysées at the end of last year, and on weekdays there are huge queues there for sandwiches. The Parisians have a tradition of eating out for lunch but with the current financial crisis a lot of people no longer have the money to do it - but as they don't have a sandwich culture, their sandwiches are not so exciting, so they're lapping it up. 1
Rachel Khoo, 32, is a chef and presenter of BBC2's 'The Little Paris Kitchen'. 'The Little Paris Kitchen' recipe book is published by Michael Joseph, priced £20.
For more: thelittlepariskitchen.com
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