He triggered a vegetable revolution and serves us the most sinful desserts. Star chef and bestselling author Yotam Ottolenghi tempts the word with unconventional recipes

From time to time a tantalizing world lies in wait between two covers of a book, in terms of SWEET maybe even the sweetest. In his new recipe book star chef Yotam Ottolenghi, together with Helen Goh, celebrates sinful moments with promising desserts. Their composition may sometimes seem unconventional (Brownies with tahin and halwa), but always guarantees a high level of enjoyment (Grappa fruit cake). Ottolenghi himself has a sweet tooth. And his cooking career actually began with him whipping sugar and egg whites. In the nineties he completed his training at Le Cordon Bleu School of cookery. Ottolenghi is 30, a late starter in the gastronomy world. Because although his first word was „war ma“, a short form for marak, the Hebrew word for soup, and his father calls him a goloso (greedy glutton), in his early twenties Ottolenghi studied philosophy and literature at the university of Tel Aviv. Where he was to experience freedom as a young homosexual for the first time. While studying for his doctor title, he decided to take a break. He moved to London, enrolled at a renowned school of cooker, dropped out and became an assistant to the head pastry chef at Launceston Place,

an exclusive restaurant that was frequented by Princess Diana at the time. When a waiter called out to him one evening through the service lift: „that was the best Brownie I’ve ever eaten!“, he knows that he has taken the right path. However, Ottolenghi did not make a name for himself with his legendary desserts; but rather his unique way of cooking vegetables. Ottolenghi shows that vegetables are not simply an accompaniment but the star of every dish. And his success proves him right: In 2006 the Guardian called and asked him to submit a vegetarian column. There followed major TV specials. Ottolenghi now runs several restaurants and delis in London. He has published seven cookbooks, two of which are dedicated exclusively to vegetarian cuisine, and most recently SIMPLE: dishes with minimum effort and maximum taste. Almost every day the 49-year old creates new recipes and perfects existing ones. „Unconditional praise is rare and there is often a plethora of improvement suggestions“, says Ottolenghi, „but when you do come across the missing puzzle piece that makes the recipe complete, it is like a revelation. Everything disintegrates into harmony.“

“When dining, I always look for the drama taking place in my mouth. Not every bite has to be a statement, but I am always on the lookout for the little firework.”

Photos Copyrights: Peden + Munk, Adam Luzsniak, DK Verlag