Graham Garrett on his book Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls

The  Staff Canteen
Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls is Graham Garrett’s first book, it follows his transformation from rock star to Michelin-starred chef and owner of The West House in Kent. The Staff Canteen, as always, wanted to know more so we spoke to Graham about why he had decided the time was right to put his life down on paper, the story behind the title and how difficult it was to pick which recipes made the final cut! Graham Garrett 3 ©Clifford Garrett low resFlicking through Graham’s book it’s clear to see he enjoyed an exciting, hectic and unpredictable youth but for many his career choices are almost backwards. Why would you choose to leave the superstar lifestyle of a drummer in a rock band to become a chef, working every hour god sends in a sweaty, unglamorous kitchen? “I would say I probably enjoyed all of that lifestyle then, a lot more than I would now!” Laughed Graham. “I always wanted to do music and play in bands but to a careers master that’s not a legit job, is it? So, I started looking at other careers and the only other thing I cared about was cooking. “My dad was totally against it, he said it was such a shit job – low pay, shit hours – don’t know where he got that from! Back in the day, I think he questioned my sexuality at that point as well! It was just that old school mentality and it kind of put me off kitchens a bit.” He added: “Looking back, if I had been like all the kids I employ now who go straight from school or college into the kitchen, especially at Michelin level where back in the day I would have been getting caned in the kitchen and getting serious abuse, I don’t think I would have lasted. “I’m not that kind of person – I can dish it out but I can’t take it!”graham quote During a tour of the Soviet Union with his last band, Ya Ya, Graham found the experience very surreal and ‘quite hellish’. It took its toll and when the band came back to the UK they drifted apart, Graham started doing sessions with other bands and he found he wasn’t enjoying it. He said: “In a band and touring it’s like being on a lad’s holiday. Going into a studio and playing on someone else’s song you didn’t write is like being a casual and going into someone else’s kitchen, you feel like a numpty having to ask where everything is all the time. “I missed my writing buddies and then we had our son Jake, who pretty much runs the restaurant for me now, I was a house husband and suddenly all I cared about was watching Hot Chefs on tele, reading my cook books and worrying about what to do for dinner. “I just got more and more into the food thing and I fell into it and treated it as a hobby. I’m one of these people who can’t do lots of things I have to chuck myself at one thing. So although I was calling it a hobby and I was supposed to be writing songs, I didn’t touch a drum kit and it took me two years of working six/seven day weeks in the kitchen, doing a stage when I wasn’t working, before I said ‘I’m in denial here’. “I’d done the thing I said I would kill myself before I did – I had a day job.” Not just any day job, Graham went on to achieve Michelin stars and work in some of the UK’s best kitchens including Nico Ladenis’s and Richard Corrigan’s who also wrote the books foreword. Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls - Spread 7 low resGraham said: “He was an obvious choice. As a chef he is brilliant and he’s all about hospitality and entertainment. His cooking is like that too, it’s generous, bold food that you want to eat. “When I first went into his kitchen at Lindsay House, it was a very manic place with a lot of mad chefs; but you’d walk into this thing which was an excuse for a walk in fridge and there would be a brine tub with pigs trotters in, somewhere else they would have cabbage pickling, he’d make soda breads – it was just proper food which took me back to what I enjoyed when I first started.” Graham laughed: “I’m not sure I would want to work for him again! He’s very demanding and it keeps you on your toes, it taught me a lot being there.” So why now? Why did he think it was the right time to put his life and recipes down on paper and create a book? He said: “I spent so many years with people and customers saying ‘when are you going to do a cook book’ and my reply was always that I would never do one; I buy hundreds of them and I just think they get a bit samey and formulated in their approach. “I met Anthony Hodgson at Face (Publications) who said if I wanted to do one he would be interested and you think if someone like that who has just done Sat Bains is interested, would it be arrogant to say no?” He added: “I was always the reluctant party until it picked up enough momentum and I thought I have to do this.graham quote 3 “I don’t really like putting myself out there, it wouldn’t seem so looking at it, but I spent a long time treating my past as another life and then putting my head down and trying to be a chef. I wouldn’t have anything to do with that side and it took me a lot of years to accept it and even start to go and see bands again. “When we were working out the direction of the book, I just dumped a big box of shit on Anthony and said ‘do what you like’.” In his book Graham has opened up his life for everyone to see, although there is no doubt a few stories he’s kept for himself! And with that he has chosen a selection of recipes which accompany each era of his life. Picking just a few of the recipes accumulated over the years would be a hard task for any chef but Graham says ‘that was the easy part’. “I didn’t want to do a very cheffy book with recipes you can’t do,” he explained. “There’s no point, you need some kind of wider appeal. There are simple things that people who don’t cook might want to make like a cake or a biscuit, we use all of those things as parts of dishes so I thought it would be good to include them in their own right as simplistic things. “But then there is the foie gras dish which is a full restaurant dish but it shows the other side and where we are at now.” Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls - Spread 2 low resHe added: “The dishes are all part of the story, so working out where the food sat I thought would be really difficult but it was so simple – they just fell into place.” Although like all cook books Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls contains a selection of recipes and stunning images, one similarity it does not share is its title. “I just made a suggestion,” explained Graham. “It was a jokey slogan that I’d seen and I just thought it was perfect for what the book is. Unfortunately we’ve found when we’ve been emailing people about it, the words sex and drugs in one email puts a hell of a lot of emails into people’s spam folders!” We have two signed copies of Graham Garrett’s Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls to give away. To win simply answer the question below. Send your answer along with your contact details to [email protected]. All entries must be received by December 4. Which chef wrote the foreword for Graham’s book? *Click here for terms and conditions By Cara Pilkington @canteencara
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th November 2015

Graham Garrett on his book Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls