Tim Hayward review

Ever wondered how to roast a suckling pig? Bone and stuff a pig’s trotter? Create the most superlative chip butty? Well Tim Hayward – writer, broadcaster, restaurateur and Old Bristolian – had all the answers on his recent visit.

A JCR’s-worth of listeners, fortified by refreshments and by the music of Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe (ambitious David Bowie arrangements!), was soon spellbound by this animated and hugely entertaining speaker. Hayward’s latest book, The DIY Cook, is full of fascinating food projects rather than recipes, packed with history and anecdotes … and about as far from a conventional cookery book as it’s possible to get.

“Cookery books keep the publishing industry alive,” he explained. “People want easy recipes that are quick and effective and give impressive results. But most people will only ever cook one recipe from each cookery book. And I didn’t want to write like that.

“I believe that if people are only going to do one recipe, let’s expand the recipe with history. It’s not just about following instructions, it’s about maybe spending a whole day doing something, learning and laughing about food and then getting your friends and family round to eat what you’ve made.”

Tim Hayward explained in detail how to make a shooter’s sandwich, a recipe dating back to Victorian times, with layers of mushroom duxelle and steak built up in a sourdough loaf then pressed in readiness for a day’s shooting.

And he caused great amusement as he recounted various ways of squashing roast duck to make Canard à la presse. The method he devised for his own version? Putting the duck in a tin and driving his sportscar over it. It worked!

Tim, who attended BGS for a year when he was nine, also spoke about his time at the School and its rôle in his development as a food writer.

“I never forgot the Great Hall and when I arrived today I asked if I could see it again; I was thinking to myself: ‘If it’s not still the biggest, grandest thing I’ve ever seen, I’ll be disappointed’. But I wasn’t disappointed: it was great.

“I can still remember a thousand kids eating their lunch here, and all that food, and a sense of awe and absolute power, and it is still with me.”

He also praised the philosophy of schools like BGS, which his father also attended: “I can see that BGS instils a sense of ‘I can do this. I can learn’, it’s really inspiring. Schools like this give you a confidence and massive inquisitiveness which still informs my writing today.”

Lizzie Peck