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Willy Armitage Matin: 'I loved the science of food'

Willy Armitage Matin: ‘I loved the science of food’

sHilli Armitage-Mattin can be a chef by profession and a finalist in MasterChef: The Professionals It’s 2020, but she admits her taste isn’t as polished as you might think.

“I love sweets and comforting flavours,” she says with a laugh. “Very basic—I’m all about sweetness. I like whatever is bad for you, which probably isn’t good. But I also like umami and I like spice too.”

A 30-year-old might say her taste buds are basic, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her stuff in the kitchen. “I had a master’s degree in chemistry, and the physics teacher was actually the guy who worked with Heston [Blumenthal]She explains, which sparked her love of food science. After working at Gordon Ramsay restaurants, Armitage-Mattin left to become a development chef — “learning more about food and science at the molecular level,” she says.

If everything sounds a little serious, Armitage-Mattin certainly isn’t — she can’t stop laughing as we discuss her first cookbook, Taste the food: Asia.

When writing the book, Armitage Matin delved into the psychology of food – and now she wants home cooks to start using all of their senses. “For example, when you cook and you hear bacon frying and you can hear the water evaporating, then the water disappears and you can hear it change in noise. You can hear it burning — you can also smell it and see it burning. You should be using all of your senses to cook, not just your eyes.”

And when it comes to the psychology of food, for Armitage Matin, dishes are closely associated with memories. She remembers the ramen she had in Japan, “It was the tastiest ramen in the world, it almost made me cry. I used that recipe and it inspired the ramen recipe in the book.”

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Armitage Matin’s trip to Japan was a huge turning point for her. I used to work at Gordon Ramsay’s [in London at the time] — That’s when I got to know Asian flavors,” she says. “That’s when I got to know the different miso and umami flavors, which heightened my cooking and taste buds.

“Then I bought a one-way ticket to Japan and worked in different restaurants all over Asia. This is where my love for Asian ingredients and cooking really grew” – which is why her first cookbook is dedicated to these cuisines.

Armitage-Mattin wants to help “home cooks incorporate Asian ingredients into their everyday cooking,” she says, and has simplified the recipes so that “you don’t have to use hard-to-find, hard-to-obtain ingredients. You can go to your supermarket and find ingredients, which I find it more sustainable and easier – like all specific Vietnamese or Thai herbs ported, I don’t want to increase my carbon footprint.”

The book’s recipes are inspired everywhere from Hong Kong to South Korea, but what cuisine can Armitage Matin not live without? “I love northern Chinese food,” she says. “There is a recipe in the book, like Chinese marinated mutton, Sichuan lamb chops – it’s fantastic. I had this mutton kebab in Xi’an, and it was lamb kebab with Sichuan pepper, cumin and chili. It’s Uyghur food, very intense Chinese Islamic food, and it’s on Probably my favorite food in the world. I definitely fell in love with the people, the city noise, the food and the culture. So I took these flavors and added them to my lamb chops.”

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Her passion for food is ingrained, but it’s not something she inherited from her mother. “My mom is Indian – there is a dish dedicated to my mom in the book, it’s called chapati mommy. Because mom will admit she can’t cook,” Armitage Matin says with a laugh. “Fortunately, we had really good ready meals, so we would get food, and then she would make chapati, rice and dahl at home. My love for cooking came much later”- when her father took her out to eat in different restaurants.

“Going to restaurants and seeing these chefs working as dancers, it all just blew me away,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I need this – it’s so cool looking at the chefs. This is where my love for food really came in, as I did watching TV shows like master cook. In fact, master cook It was my first cookbook – and I took it to the interview master cook. “

Armitage Mattin ended up being one of the show’s finalists and described the experience as a “learning curve.” She says, “You learn a lot from yourself because you are challenged by the deadline to prepare each dish. I am a very creative person and as a development chef I love creativity, but sometimes I love that [the challenge] Chef’s tableWe had a short [time] “I think we have a day for the final dish. So, actually, in developing all the dishes, you don’t have enough time. So you have to push yourself and keep pushing, because you always put your best in. You can’t risk leaving because all the other chefs are good. Extremely “.

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Although the chef’s praises master cook Judge Marcus Wearing, Armitage Matin admits that he still suffers from Impostor Syndrome. “100 percent, I feel like I fake it all the time,” she admits. “I think we all are. I always check myself. If I feel like I think something is a good idea, then I say no, is it a good idea? I’m not sure. But then I get other people to taste it, and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, it’s great.’ And I I like, okay.”

“Taste Kitchen: Asia: Six Flavors for Every Taste” by Philli Armitage-Mattin (published by Robinson, £26; photo by Phoebe Pearson), available 1 September.