Aiden Byrne found his vocation at the age of 14. His cousin Alan Feeney was a big influence on his life and Alan had taken the catering route. Aiden’s granddad had been a chef in the Navy so it’s obviously in the blood.
After two years studying catering at the then Knowsley Central Tertiary College in Roby, he got a job at London’s Royal Garden Hotel, but he hated it with a will known to few. “Being locked in the fridges is one of my memories. I couldn’t handle it and would cry myself to sleep.”
The negative experience at the Royal Garden Hotel sent Aiden back to his northern roots and saw him trying his hand at Chester’s Grosvenor Hotel where he stayed for 18 months. “I kept on going in for nothing and after four weeks they got p***ed off and offered me a job as a commis chef.”
After the Grosvenor Hotel he gained more experience in restaurants in Wilmslow and Leeds, before finding work at Adlard’s in Norwich. There, still only 21 years old, he was made head chef and by 22 he became the youngest chef to win a Michelin star. “I’d never worn a suit in my life and here I was being asked to a Michelin dinner at the Savoy in a bow tie! I was in the same room as Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc – it was totally overwhelming.”
Aiden found his niche in London at last when, in 2006, he was appointed head chef of The Grill at the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane. He generously admits that he owes much of his success to his dedicated and talented team and the amazing facilities.
Made in Great Britain is stylish and impressive. The cover has been thoughtfully designed and has a young and masculine feel. The photography, both black and white, and colour, by Sue Atkinson, is superb. Lovely pictures of the food are contrasted by action shots of Aiden and staff.
Although both the chef and the dishes are undoubtedly “Made in Great Britain”, not all the ingredients are home grown. This book is a reflection of modern British food rather than uniquely British produce. Having said that, Aiden has presented a showcase for the best that these islands have to offer. He takes pride in all that is good and so often overlooked.
The recipes sound chefy, having titles that read like descriptions (Sea Bream with Lemon Sauce, Crayfish and Sage Risotto), but any competent home cook could tackle these in a domestic kitchen and be assured of spectacular results. There are lots of dishes that are simple so start with those and give yourself a bit of confidence. Strawberries with Whisky Granite is a stunner and imaginative but so easy.
Made in Great Britain is the ideal recipe book for any serious home cook. It’s well written and inspiring and will hopefully not be the last from Aiden Byrne.
Made in Great Britain
Author: Aiden Byrne
Published by: New Holland
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018