- Jan 2, 2019
Barbour Life-Alexandra Dudley
Spring summer 2019
#BarbourLife celebrates the people who live a Barbour Way of Life, and for our January instalment, we met up with renowned chef and author of 'Land and Sea', Alexandra Dudley.
For anyone who doesn’t already know you, can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
I guess I’m a bit of a hybrid - a classic millennial in that sense. I work as a food writer, chef, food Photgrapher and host. I host an interview series at Soho House where I sit down with artists, authors, chefs and also host my ‘How to host a dinner party’ there event which I’ve now expanded into workshops which I also host at my home. I love a dinner party and am an avid believer that it doesn’t need to be difficult nor stressful.
When or where did your interest in food come from, and was there a specific point in your life when you decided you’d like to pursue a career in it?
I was very young when I started cooking, picking up after my mother or grandmother and constantly asking to stir the pot or roll the pastry. I was probably about 11 when I knew I wanted to work in food. It was then that I wrote my first cookbook. ‘Alexandra’s cookbook’ was written entirely by hand and I’d traced some incredibly detailed drawings of how to fold croissants which I’d found in one of my mother’s ancient french cookbooks.
I started cooking for family friends in my early teens and started a small cake business too.
Your debut cookbook ‘Land and Sea’ drew on childhood memories in your mother’s kitchen. Describe a notable memory?
Goodness there are many but I’d say one that still makes me laugh was a Mothering Sunday. It was tradition that my siblings and I would bring my mother breakfast in bed. Usually we didn’t over complicate things and stuck to toast with jam but I knew my mother really loved a good fried egg. One year I took to the challenge. 16 eggs later we produced a somewhat rubbery fried egg. The toast was cold and the butter wouldn’t melt. All in all it was a disaster but I think my mother enjoyed it all the same.
You are also a Food Stylist, Content Creator and Supper Club host. Which is your favourite role and why?
Probably a supper club host. I host supper clubs throughout the year and always do a series of garden supper clubs in my own garden. These are my favourite. I do six courses for up to 18 people. Usually a handful know each other but the rest come solo. It’s fantastic seeing everyone get to know each other over food. The evenings always end late and full of joy.
I enjoy hosting my ‘how to host a dinner party’ event too. I think so many are afraid of things not being perfect. I’m a big believer in embracing the imperfections and having fun whilst doing so. I share my tips and tricks to create a lovely evening as well as little kitchen hacks and money saving techniques.
You’re based in London, a bustling urban city. Where do you go to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and what do you enjoy doing to unwind and enjoy the simpler things?
I’m lucky in that both my parents live outside of London. My dad splits his time between the north Norfolk coast and Peru so I visit him by the sea whenever he is over and my mother lives in Surrey. I’m a big walker and if ever I feel overwhelmed with London life a big walk will sort me out. The walks there are fantastic. My boyfriends family also live in the countryside. We visit them often too - so I’m very lucky.
The Barbour Way of Life celebrates those who enjoy the simpler things in life, like a stroll in the British countryside or a pub lunch with loved ones – what simple thing in life do you enjoy most?
An early morning walk, before breakfast and before everyone is up. There’s always a few of us, usually those doing the early dog walk and a couple of keen runners but there’s a sense of peace about walking at that time. I love it.
Have you travelled to any interesting parts of the world due to your love of food?
I am constantly inspired by food when I travel so I like to travel whenever I can. I went to Istanbul earlier this year and was in awe of the food culture there. It is so rich in flavour and colour and uses so many different techniques. I’m planning on hosting a supper club inspired by my trip there in the new year.
What is your favourite Winter dish?
I love roasted squash. All squash but particularly acorn squash and delicata squash. I like to chop them, roast them - perhaps with a few banana shallots too. Then I’ll make a zippy pesto to go with it. I love jazzing up my pesto too. My go to is a cashew and tarragon one and I love sage and almond too.
What is your favourite Winter memory?
I have many but most of them involve spending time with my siblings. Driving through misty roads with my brother in search for good coffee or watching trashy television with my sister.
You’re wearing Pre-SS19 collection for the shoot – which was your favourite piece to wear? What do you like about your outfit?
I’d have to say the coat. When I was young I used to watch my parents go off fishing and walking in their barbours and thought they were incredibly grown up. Even at my age I still feel a spark of maturity and wisdom wearing it.
What would we find in the pockets of your Barbour Jacket?
Probably a mix of bendicks mint chocolate wrappers and scrunched up shopping lists. I cannot resist a bendicks mint chocolate and often pop one in my pocket before heading out on a walk. I’m old fashioned when it comes to shopping lists so usually write them on scraps of paper.
Learn more about the #BarbourWayOfLife here.