Carine Seitz talks to young chef Sophie Wright, on cooking with her grandmother and thinking outside the box.
Sophie Wright is definitely one to watch on the UK culinary scene. She has already won over twenty national and international culinary awards, and at the age of just 20 was one of Britain’s youngest Head Chefs at a prestigious London restaurant. With several TV appearances including Market Kitchen and ITV’s Daily Cooks under her belt, she has also completed her first cookbook, Easy Peasy: Laid Back Cooking for Lazy Days, and is currently working on a second. Sophie's main focus is on her private catering company, food writing and consulting to London restaurants, as well as regularly competing and judging in national culinary competitions. She has recently teamed up with Florida Grapefruit to create mouth-watering healthy recipes which make a perfect fit for the summer. **Carine Seitz** talks to Sophie about life as a chef so far.
**What's your earliest memory of cooking?
Sophie: **My very first memory of cooking is with my Nanny Vera. She’s a great traditional cook and taught all her grandkids how to make the basics. I remember standing on 2 yellow pages so I could reach the work surface to roll out pastry for a meat pie top. I must have been about 3 years old.
**What was your first job in a kitchen?
**If you could give budding young chefs one piece of advice, what would it be?
S: **Read all the books you can and don't be afraid to try something new. Make sure you learn as much as possible and ask lots of questions.
**What's your ultimate ambition?
S: **My ideas change from one week to the next! I’ll always be involved with food. I want to be able to inspire people to cook and learn to love food as much as I do, whether that be through a restaurant, private catering company or from writing cookbooks. The food industry is such a great place to be. There are so many doors left to open!
**Are you a stereotypical chef?
S: **Well, I'm a young female so no, not really. I think any chef with a real passion for food has the drive to work hard and the tendency to loose their cool from time to time. Now that I spend less time in the kitchen environment I think I’ve have calmed down a little with regard to how many hours I work and the high expectations I have for chefs. I now work for myself and personally liaise with clients so I have to handle situations differently.
**Do you like getting feedback from the people you cook for?
S: **Yes, all criticism and praise is constructive. It makes you work harder.
**What upsets you most in the world of food?
S: **This is a huge industry and it has it’s faults. I couldn't say that anyone of them in particular has upset me. We all have our own opinions.
**What's important to you in food?
S: **That it’s easily accessible to everyone. I love creating something new for someone that they've never had before. I love seeing their eyes light up when they taste that new exciting ingredient or flavour combination. Everyone should be able to experience that or try new things at home with out being scared it might go wrong.
When I was given the challenge to invent recipes for Florida Grapefruit, I thought how can I possibly create all these recipes using this fruit? But then I started thinking outside the box and came up with a few things that can be created everyday. After making these for clients, family and friends they were surprised at how versatile and easily incorporated grapefruit really is.
That's what I love about cooking, there’s always something new to discover!
**Written by:** Carine Seitz