Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Luke Mangan is a chef who needs no introduction. He’s been conquering the kitchen scene for a while now, and if you’ve flown Virgin Business Class, or cruised with P&O, chances are good you’ve sampled some of his foods.
In ‘Sharing Plates’, Mangan has brought his eye for detail to the plate for aspiring home cooks, with a host of dishes just perfect for an indulgent meal. This isn’t your quick, easy Sunday brunch foodstuffs. It’s the kind of fare that takes more work than slapping together some bacon and eggs, and requires a few more specialised ingredients than you might have to hand already. If you’re a fan of hunting for new, gourmet bits and bobs, this is definitely a must-read. Still, even if you’re working to a tight budget, or not wanting to work with quail, ox tongue, or blood sausage, there’s plenty of recipes to tempt yourself with.
These are multi-process dishes, so if you’re new and unconfident in the kitchen, you might want to make these as a group effort, rather than trying to stagger to the finish line alone. But for those who are confident in their kitchen wizardry, and happy to work with gourmet ingredients they may not be familiar with, ‘Sharing Plates’ is a lot of fun.
It’s pretty good if you need to show off, too. These aren’t the dishes to make if you want to just haphazardly apply foodstuffs to plate; they’re generally the sort requiring a little more care and time. Mangan is a chef with a gift for prettying up the plate, and ‘Sharing Plates’ is a class in presentation for those wanting to add a little more finesse to their mealtimes.
Overall, I like the way this collection has been set out. I like that there are separate chapters for the seafood- it means that those of us who don’t eat it can skip those chapters and move on with our lives. But, a little niggling nit-pick is that seafood still finds its way into the meat section, too. Given that a quarter of the chapters are devoted to seafood, sneaking them into the remaining sections seems a bit like overkill.
But let’s be honest: if a few scallops in the meat chapter is the worst I can say, it’s a pretty good cookbook.
Mangan has done a fantastic job in bringing the gourmet into the family kitchen, and making it not look like the most overwhelming undertaking possible. The food is fresh, fancy, and overall a lot of fun to try. If you’re looking for a few new recipes to show off with, or to find your way out of a cookery rut, ‘Sharing Plates’ is a fantastic resource to explore.
‘Sharing Plates’ is published by Murdoch Books, and is available at leading retailers.