Desert island dishes

Rik Razza, head of chef development, BaxterStorey

Sourdough bread
What excites me about the sourdough is how four simple base ingredients can produce such a magical product. Flavour, texture, smell, visual and sound all stimulate the mind and body as you enjoy its rewards. Just like people, every loaf offers its own little characteristics.

Spaghetti carbonara
A throwback to my wedding breakfast (lunch) and a nod to my father who was Italian. I love the simplicity of this dish that offers so much knowledge about good regional ingredients.

Making fresh pasta is a pure joy. The wonderful fatty guanciale, dried cured pigs’ jowl with a wonderful peppery edge, the Parmigiano-Reggiano of stravecchio heritage, and beautiful free-roaming chicken egg yolks add that depth of colour.

Jansson’s temptation
Another nod to my heritage on my Swedish mother’s side. We always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve and always had a 'julbord', which is a tradition Swedish buffet. In amongst all the wonderful food on offer I loved the Jansson’s temptation, with its thin baton cut potatoes, sharp onions, creamy and decadent base and those salty anchovies, all topped off with crispy fried breadcrumbs and parsley. The perfect way to set you up for your presents in the evening as a child – great memories.

Paella of artichoke, scorched red pepper and runner beans
We used paella as a vehicle for training in BaxterStorey Chef Academy. One of our trainees came from Valencia and gave us a masterclass in how to make paella – you are never ever too old to learn!

It took me on a journey of discovery with the traditions of wood-fired paella, finished off with the smokiness of the watered down burnt olive wood that it had been cooked on. It is such a family favourite, as we enjoy the flavours, holiday memories and fighting for the prized socarrat.

Food EQ lamb kofta kebab
This dish was created at the BaxterStorey Chef Academy and embraces the Food EQ philosophy of adding more plant-based ingredients to reduce the animal content, without taking away from the origins of the dish.

I’m often asked what my favourite style of food is and I’m quite eclectic, but I am always pulled to the Mediterranean basin for flavours, visuals and smells. The kofta flavours really embrace those travelling spices descending from Asia, the Middle East and making their way to Morocco and Turkey, giving lovely depth of flavour with hints of heat from fresh chillies. After a couple of beers, who doesn’t love a tasty kebeb?

Bakewell tart
Again, this is a simple dish in its appearance; however, to ensure the most delicious Bakewell tart appears on the plate, perfect ingredients, knowledge of method and heaps of passion need to be in place. I love that this evolved from a heavier Bakewell pudding into this lighter almond creation, as it demonstrates the evolution of dishes using our creativity and love for being a chef.

As a child, Christmas morning was exciting on many levels, but one favourite tradition was opening the panettone and eating this sweet, stretched Italian bread that had been tempting me for the last few days. My journey as a chef in my later years has shown me the labour of love that is put into a panettone and I apologise to bakers that had made this lovely, sweet bread that I wolfed down as a youngster, with no regard to the process at all.

Sunday lunch
Ah, the roast, something that I did not really appreciate, being a child in an Italian and Swedish household – albeit the alternative dishes were fantastic. My lovely wife Debbie introduced me to the Sunday roast and I never looked back.

It is a toss-up between a rib of beef or neck end of pork, but for me it has to be the neck end of pork, especially the crackling, from our local farmer. Of course, I will pinch the roast beef’s Yorkshire puddings. Such a lovely family time to sit, chat, debate (argue) and relax.

What book would you take with you?
Would have to be the bible, which I have never managed to read through. I may have the time to do that, what better companion could I have?

And what luxury item?
A never-ending glass of watermelon mojito to watch that endless sunset in the lazy warm evenings.

And what onbe dish if you had to choose?
It would have to be Jansson’s temptation - it really takes me back to happy childhood times. It would make the perfect home comfort dish and can easily be eaten any time of year, not just at Christmas!


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