Book review: Sex, Drugs and Sausage Rolls by Graham Garrett

Book review: Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls by Graham Garrett

by Eliot Collins 26 January 2016

Eliot Collins reviews Graham Garrett's Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls, a book that is part memoir, part cookery book. Discover more about the chef's background in the music industry and his journey to earning his first Michelin star, with recipes for a number of his signature dishes to try at home.

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Eliot worked as a chef partnership manager at Great British Chefs.

Eliot worked as a chef partnership manager at Great British Chefs.

The first time I met Graham Garrett he described to me one of his favourite food and travel experiences. It was a well trodden journey to a cider house in San Sebastián where a large group of hungry gastronomes were handed a mug, perfectly shaped for lapping up a newly cracked barrel of local cider. Alongside the fresh apply booze was a locally hunted hog, spit roasted and shared amongst friends like a ye olde post hunt celebration. I haven’t had the chance to follow in his footsteps, but it’s on the bucket list. I think this demonstrates a beautiful common trait in all great chefs – a passion for food that is social, cultural, meaningful and adored. Graham is in a position to share these stories another time in another book (hopefully), but for now the tales are of the world of music!

It’s not often you come across a book that combines the hard graft and delectable recipes of a Michelin-starred chef with the anecdotes and stories of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, making Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls a highly unique read. I was just starting to eat solid foods when Graham Garrett was bashing the skins of his toms-toms with Dumb Blondes, Panache and Ya Ya back in the 1980s, so reading his account of this decade with a musical lens really provides a perspective I can appreciate and be somewhat envious of. So, why the transition from drumsticks to Thermomix? Well, while all good things must come to an end, it doesn’t mean good things of a different kind can’t begin.

If we just focus on the food for a second, Graham demonstrates an understanding of the importance of simple, true flavours, with basic methods and recipes for homemade butter, buttermilk and dripping. A set of household staples from many moons ago, these three addictive ingredients are now fashionable again as we adopt the ‘backwards is the new forward’ approach to food. Indeed, just as nostalgic are humble recipes for cakes with ginger, banana and almond and his stunning Treacle tart.

He has also given the readers an interpretation of British classics with an element of finesse in ‘eat-off-the-page’ recipes for Sausage rolls with foie gras, smoked haddock salad and Eccles cakes.

There is something for all eager cooks, with over fifty recipes ranging from sweet and savoury snacks to full on indulgent dinners. My favourites are the spiced mackerel kebab, lamb bacon, sweetbread, peas and roast suckling pig. Influenced by Britain, the Mediterranean, Japan and beyond, Graham demonstrates his passion for great flavours that are big, bold, subtle, humble and elegant.

I’m not sure if Graham Garrett’s hands are more cut up from the dozens of fills he made holding on to a splintering pair of Vic Firths, or deboning game birds with a razor sharp Sabatier under the watchful eye of Nico Ladenis. Either way, this modest artist who is now thirteen years into cooking Michelin-starred food as the chef/owner of The West House in Kent deserves a pat on the back for this highly engaging and well-selected tome.