Henry Herbert, of The Fabulous Baker Brothers, dishes the dirt on keeping it in the family, kitchen disasters and smelly chefs
What’s the biggest myth
That they smell nice. Chefs smell like onions, deep fat
fryers, sweat, normally booze, so it’s what I would call an “exotically
intoxicating smell”. Full of excitement and mystery. Although my wife probably
What made you decide to
work with your brother?
Forced! No choice, albatross round my neck… No, we work in
the family business, and we’ve worked together pretty much all our lives, apart
from when I left and lived in London for six years. I’ve always worked with
him, so it never seems unusual. But people see Tom and I and assume we woke up
one day and decided we wanted to be on TV. That was never our intention, and we
feel very lucky, but there was a lot of hard work beforehand, and that’s still
What most excites you
about the restaurant industry these days?
In Britain, a lot is changing. Chefs out in the rural
areas are cottoning on to seasonal and local produce. We’ve known for a long
time that we have great produce, and we’re really proud of it. We have more
artisan cheese makers than France, which is pretty incredible.
What culinary gadget could
you not live without?
I’d say the knife. I don’t think you need loads of knives,
you just need a few good ones. With a very good cook’s knife, a bread knife, a
boning knife and a paring knife, you can do pretty much anything. I go to so
many people’s houses, and they just have vast amounts of crap knives. Get rid.
Any kitchen disasters?
I set fire to quite a lot of things. Almost any place I go
to, the fire alarm goes off at some point. It’s become a game now. No massive
major incidents; I’ve broken quite a lot of things. There are kitchen disasters
all the time – it’s how you deal with them. If you’ve made a beautiful cake for
someone and you drop it, and they don’t know, it’s how you react and what you
do to the cake that makes the difference.
If you had to cook a nice
meal in 30 minutes, what would you make?
Sounds like my everyday life. My life’s like Ready,
Steady, Cook. I get home and have to look in the fridge to see what my wife’s
bought. It can be anything. I’d probably say a risotto, with broad beans and
What do you eat when
you’re feeling lazy?
Sticking my fingers into the peanut butter jar. It’s
bloody delicious. I don’t do it very often – only a couple of times a day.
What’s your favourite
place to eat in Edinburgh?
Last time we came, it was suggested that we eat at Ondine.
Roy Brett was the nicest guy ever. I’d met Roy at 10 Downing Street with Nick
Nairn, obviously one of the classic Scottish chefs. So five months later, we
decided to go. There were quite a few of us and they were fully booked, but Roy
came out and said: “Don’t worry, we’ll make space.” So they put us in their
private dining room and treated us like absolute kings. I had this amazing
fruits de mer, I was in heaven. They gave us pudding on the house and a glass
of champagne, and then he came out and chatted to us for about two hours. He
was a real gentleman, a great host and it’s definitely a highlight meal for me.
Who would you most like to
I’d have to say Winston Churchill, Barack Obama, Hugh
Dennis and Jim Morrison. I met Hugh recently, and he was hilarious. Jim might
be a bit spaced out and not talk very much, but he’d be great. Food brings
people together, it’s a fact.
Words Amy McGoldrick
When & Where
The Fabulous Baker Brothers: Sibling Ribaldry in the Kitchen, ScottishPower Studio Theatre, 15 August, 3.30pm. From £10, Tel: 0845 373 5888
No longer a dirty word, feminism is once more front and centre at this year's Book Festival, says historical novelist Kate Mosse
Feminism is back, says bestselling author Kate Mosse, who believes a whole new
generation is embracing the F-word.
Mosse, who writes historical novels with female heroines and
who co-founded the Orange Prize, is one of the authors of Fifty Shades of
As a guest selector at Edinburgh International Book Festival,
the Labyrinth author will host a series of events that focus on the role of
women in the world today.
“‘Feminism’ had become one of those dirty words. But over the last 18 months or two years it
has come back. A lot of young people are using the word again and defining
themselves that way. My son and my daughter both define themselves as
“This generation are not very political but they are very,
very focused on fairness. People have realised that things are not going to get
better on their own.
“It is much more seen as an attitude of mind - not about
whether you are a man or a woman. It is about saying everyone, no matter what
sex they are or where they live should have equal opportunity.”
As one of the festival’s guest selectors she will be hosting
events on women in the arts, on parenting, and discussing heroines in
children’s literature in an event entitled Where Have All the Brave Girls
“I have programmed four or five events very loosely themed
around the idea of women in the 21st century.
“I was thrilled to be asked to be one of the festival’s guest
selectors - particularly when there are people like Margaret Atwood, Gavin
Esler and Neil Gaiman on the line-up.”
Mosse will be also talking to audiences in Edinburgh about
re-imagining history from a female perspective in her latest novel, Citadel,
the third of a trilogy set in wartime France.
“There were many women active in the Resistance in the south
west of France, but not much is written in the history books.”
The author, who has spent five years researching and writing
Citadel, says it will be her last about women in the Resistance. “It has been very emotionally
exhausting. It is a very grim part of
history - reading all these testimonies of women tortured by Klaus Barbie.
“But it is has been a huge, huge part of my life.”
Mosse has been taking a break from novel writing. She has
just finished work on a collection of gothic short stories, The Mistletoe
Bride, to be published just before Christmas.
And the author herself has recently returned from trips to
Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, where she has enjoyed lively debates
with audiences of all ages. Mosse has been delighted by the new wave of
feminism that has been sweeping the world.
“People of my generation, who call themselves feminists, have
been waiting for this to happen for years.
about women and men being free to be the people they want to be.”
Words Claire Smith
When & Where
Fifty Shades of Feminism, Charlotte Square, 20 August, 3pm. From £8, Tel: 0845 373 5888
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 10:52
The event is chaired by renowned literary critic Stuart Kelly who’s acts as a perfect foil to Will Self’s sardonic wit. The two make informal chat by way of introduction, in which Self voices some well timed, dead-pan lines parodying book events themselves, immediately winning over the entire audience before reading quite a long extract from his new Booker Prize nominated novel, Umbrella. The writing itself is unsurprisingly intense and exquisite in equal doses and rapturous applause sounds through the tent when he finishes.
Bee keeping and foraging was on the menu for today's Drawing on Our Resources talk at the sunny Edinburgh International Book Festival. Kindred spirits Steve Benbow and Alys Fowler were cleverly merged together to tell us about their ventures – Alys as an urban forager, Steve as a city dwelling bee-keeper – where foraging wild plants and bees go hand in hand.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 10:16
Danny Wallace, notorious for his playful autobiographic non-fiction, computer game reviews and Guardian column, is at the Book Festival this year promoting his first fictional novel – Charlotte Street. He proclaims himself that his writing is “just like a conversation in a pub” and it is, with friendly anecdotes and ridiculous situations that leave tears in the corners of your eyes, but unfortunately his actual conversational stylings during this interview don’t reflect his writing.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 10:15
Alexander McCall Smith, one of the world’s most popular writers and beloved Edinburgh writer of the endearing 44 Scotland Street series introduces his latest children’s book, Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill. He briefly introduces his young audience to the heroine, Precious Ramotswe, the young detective, before opening up some entertaining discussion on the origin and characteristics of meerkats. I certainly learnt a lot about the creature. It is neither a cat nor a mere and should you meet one they will immediately climb onto your head as they instinctively move to the highest point of their surroundings on the look out for predators!
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 12:20
Becoming infamous for his remarks on corporal punishment following last year's August riots, MP for Tottenham David Lammy's summarised his views on the unrest in his new book Out of the Ashes: Britain after the Riots. His lecture yesterday at the Edinburgh International Book Festival explains all the key factors which Lammy attributes to the cause of the riots. Now call me a plebeian, but having just stepped off an exhausting ten hour coach ride from London, I was a little worried that I'd not quite be able to concentrate on the heavy-sounding speech. Fortunately however, Lammy turned out to be a compelling and exciting public speaker.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 09:40
Former comedian, sex therapist and wife of Billy-Pamela Stephenson-Connelly certainly isn’t letting the grass grow under her dancing feet.
“I happen to be a person who loves good sex,” says Pamela Stephenson-Connolly, the saucy 61-year-old whose shimmering sex appeal on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing made her the star of the show. Never have sequins looked so seductive, a rumba so risqué, or a pasa doble so passionate. Indeed, never has dance so lived up to its reputation as the vertical expression of horizontal desire.
Which is hardly surprising, given that the glamorous blonde, who has been married to exuberant Glaswegian comedian and award-winning actor Billy Connolly for 22 years and with whom she has three grown-up daughters, is something of a sex goddess.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 09:08
Book yourself a seat to see some of today’s most exciting authors talking about their work. Mark Fisher browses the bestsellers.
25 August, 4.30pm
A chance for the forthright author to reflect on 20 years of work as he comes to the end of his Islam Quintet with the publication of Night of the Golden Butterfly.
18 August, 6.30pm
The ex-BBC man reinvented himself as the voice of honesty in politics, putting him in prime position to reflect on the expenses scandal.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 August 2012 18:08
With her teenage years “full of angst” and two children for inspiration, it’s no wonder Cathy Cassidy’s books strike such a chord with her readers.
When Cathy Cassidy completed her first novel, she didn’t have an agent. Picking one at random “because of her funny name” – Darley Anderson – she sent off her book. Then came two surprises: “‘She’ was actually a very well spoken English gentleman,” she says. The other surprise was Anderson admitting he had never dealt with a children’s author before. “He only confessed when he’d sold it,” she laughs, “and said he hadn’t wanted to miss out on the next big thing.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 09:14
Telling the story of Marilyn Monroe’s dog in his own words was an interesting challenge for acclaimed author Andrew O’Hagan.
Whenever Andrew O’Hagan is quoted as saying that there weren’t any books in his childhood home, his father is quick to correct him. “He says it’s not true – we had the phonebook,” says the Glasgow-born novelist who grew up in Ayrshire. There was another book too: a biography of Marilyn Monroe.
To the young, hungry-eyed O’Hagan, she was “a modern myth, a fairy story, a woman from a poor background who was magically transformed. She was a manifestation of post-war optimism, and I was completely beguiled by her.” It’s fitting, then, that his latest novel is entitled The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his friend, Marilyn Monroe.
She began her career as a trapeze artist, then became a Hollywood star. So what prompted Emily Woof to turn her hand to writing?
Emily Woof has crammed a lot into her life so far. As a stage actor she has written and performed her own material; as a movie star she appeared opposite Rufus Sewell in The Woodlanders, and jostled with male strippers – including Robert Carlyle – in The Full Monty. As a professional trapeze artist, she trained for eight hours a day, building up her strength on a diet of sheep’s livers. Yet she admits that writing her debut novel, The Whole Wide Beauty, was the scariest proposition yet. “When you’re on stage,” she says, “there’s an illusion of being slightly in control. You can hide behind characters and feel that you’re somehow steering the thing. Writing fiction is far more open, especially as most of the characters were slightly different versions of me.”
Last Updated on Monday, 19 July 2010 11:53
Presenter and novelist Baron Melvyn Bragg has always been at the forefront of the arts scene in Britain, and is passionate about making the arts accessible to everyone.
Life for Melvyn Bragg has always been a juggling act. Best known as the driving force behind the flagship arts series, The South Bank Show, the prolific broadcaster, writer and former Controller of Arts at ITV has 21 novels and 13 works of non-fiction to his name. Diversity is his trademark: during The South Bank Show’s 33-year history, we were as likely to be treated to an insight into Dolly Parton or Billy Connelly as more highbrow subjects such as Francis Bacon or the Royal Shakespeare Company. “That’s exactly what I set out to do when I was given my own arts programme back in ‘77,” he says. “I wanted to bring popular art into the same tent as established art. It wasn’t going to be the odd tokenist gesture. Everything from pop music to grand opera to theatre and TV would all be given serious attention.”
RBS Main Theatre
31 August, 11.30
It’s lucky for Antonia Fraser that narrative histories became fashionable. Obviously she has reaped great success from its return a la mode, but also because one gets the impression Lady Fraser simply could not constrain herself to simply tell us the facts and trends.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:44
RBS Main Theatre
27 August, 15.00
It was apparent from the outset that the audience demographic was on the silver-haired side but this did not, tellingly, detract from an interesting and stimulating session.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:45
RBS Main Theatre
30 August, 21.00
Don’t be fooled by Margaret Atwood’s appearance. A head of tight, powder-grey curls, hands and feet demurely crossed, she looks sweet, though she avoids fragility, and looks as though she would offer you tea and talk sewing patterns and grandchildren.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:46
RBS Main Theatre
30 August 20.00
Normally on entering an event such as this you are reminded, or rather told, to turn all mobile devises off. It would be in Douglas Coupland’s allotted hour that roughly 600 people were asked to swap numbers with someone nearby and ring each other to create a Cell Phone Sonata!
Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2009 11:17
RBS Main Theatre
26 August, 20.00
‘Pandaemonium’ is right! Within the first few pages of his new book, Christopher Brookmyre presents us with a bus-load of teenagers bent on farting, singing rude songs, sexual innuendo, wrestling over a guitar... and as if that weren’t enough, someone manages to set the bus (not to mention one of the teenagers) on fire, causing the coach driver to crash and kill a deer...
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2009 13:25
ScottishPower Studio Theatre
23 August, 19.00
Sharon Olds is a funny mixture. Stepping tentatively onto the stage in her black two-piece, an incongruous sparkly lock in her flowing grey hair, she looks benign and witchy.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2009 11:34
RBS Main Theatre
24 August, 20.00
Vince Cable has had a multicoloured career. Deputy leader of the Lib Dems, he’s previously been a diplomat, civil servant, high-flying economist, and even acting party leader in the pre-Clegg days. Oh, and, so chairman Brian Taylor delightedly informed a packed RBS marquee, he’s also an ace ballroom dancer.