Got good news last week that my next project has been shortlisted for the Deutsche Bank awards.
The project is about my mother, but will not be focusing on her death, this next book would look at her life and my journey through her life, retracing her history.
My mother, Sue Miles, was one of the central figures of the London counter-culture of the 1960s and a leading influence on the British ‘restaurant revolution’. She knew everyone, from The Beatles down, and was involved in such seminal events as the Allen Ginsberg Albert Hall poetry reading of 1965 and the obscenity trial of Oz magazine of 1971, before going on to become a leading figure in the restaurant scene of the 1980s. She was the first female Head Chef in the UK, and had an impressive string of restaurants she either founded or worked in throughout her career (L’Escargot, Soho Brasserie, 192, Zanzibar, Didier’s). She was a pioneer for good quality ingredients cooked simply.
It is the food aspect that I will concentrate on for this book. In Tulip, I used images of my mother’s flowers to lead the story, so in the same manner, in this second book I want the food to be the recurring theme. She had a fascinating life, so the food imagery will be interwoven with text, revealing her life-story (told by myself, friends and family met along the way) and complemented by my conceptual photographic journey in which I retrace her life.
My mother was hugely influential in the restaurant scene in Britain. She taught many of the now big names in British food, helping them on their way to becoming world-class chefs. Many became personal friends, and many called her ‘their mentor’. I am inviting a large selections of these chefs to contribute to this book, ranging from the very well-known, to many of the more recent young chefs she has helped in their careers. I’m asking people to simply contribute recipes she taught them, and perhaps a few words about the way she influenced their food, their career and the British food scene. Many of the people she has worked with have funny stories to tell from her kitchens.
Mum always planned to do her cookbook but never got the opportunity, so this is my chance to do it for her, to do one last project for my mum. This book is not just about her or her food, it’s my chance to bid a final good-bye to a much loved and missed mum. The journey through her life will be fascinating and I’m sure it will be a cathartic experience, as well as a long-standing testament to her. My previous book, Tulip, looked at her death and how I dealt with it, but this project will look at her life and how I am dealing with her not being around anymore.