This is an interesting book that will appeal to both historians and cooks and there’s even some recipes from ‘The Victory Cookery Book’ to try for yourself too.
‘The Wizard of the Kitchen’ by Trudy Van der Wees is a biography that not only tells us more about the Dutch Chef who was at a pioneering point of culinary history, but also about advances and changes to the way the British cooked during World War 1. Iwan Kriens was dubbed ‘the wizard of the kitchen’ for his ability to make meals from scarce resources. He became the headmaster of the London County Council Cookery Technical School at the Westminster Technical Institute, which is now called the Westminster Kingsway College and was the very first government-funded cookery school for professionals in England. This is an enlightening biography for the eponymous chef. I hadn’t heard of Kriens before but his book with Dorothy Peel, ‘The Victory Cookery Book’, and his teachings about healthy eating and cooking practices deserve much celebration and recognition, and will enthral amateur and professional cooks alike. Alongside Trudy van der Wees’ story of how she discovered her ‘Uncle Iwan’ existed and the impact he had on British culinary education, this book also provides context, with separate yellow boxes with additional context for places and people mentioned along the way. Through this and the inclusion of images throughout, the reader gets a much broader understanding of Iwan and his family but also the first World War and its impact on food, how people cooked, the hospitality industry and its connecting businesses. This is an interesting book that will appeal to both historians and cooks and there’s even some recipes from ‘The Victory Cookery Book’ to try for yourself too.
Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
They called him ‘the wizard of the kitchen’ because he was able to prepare dishes without meat, sausage rolls without sausage and baked potatoes without using a single potato. Dutch-born Iwan Kriens, headmaster of the first Hotel and Restaurant School in the UK, was a culinary authority in the first decades of the twentieth century. An English biography sheds new light on this untiring campaigner for culinary education, who taught the British public how to survive strict national rationing during the First World War.
No doubt, if Iwan Kriens (1871-1957) had lived in our century he would have been actively involved with cookery shows on television. He would have been a member of the jury in Master Chef or may even would have had his own programme. For Iwan Kriens was knowledgeable, charismatic, amiable, and not afraid to give his opinion.
The famous chef grew up in the Netherlands. Around 1900 he settled in London where he became headmaster of the very first government-funded cookery school for professionals in England, the London County Council Cookery Technical School at the Westminster Technical Institute, the current-day Westminster Kingsway College. Under his leadership, the school grew into a successful vocational training centre where generations of chefs learned the trade. And still do so. Westminster Kingsway College is one of the most prestigious culinary and hospitality schools in the world.
Apart from being an excellent teacher, Iwan was a prominent member of the Universal Food and Cookery Association, passionately campaigning for the importance of good and healthy food. During the First World War, when food was scarce and sometimes priceless, he provided cooking demonstrations and wrote a highly-praised cookery book, together with well-known journalist Dorothy Peel. In The Victory Cookery Book he explained how to prepare a tasty and nutritious meal with scarce products and alternative foods, confirming his nickname ‘The wizard of the kitchen’.
Although superfoods as we now have them did not exist as yet, Iwan Kriens and Dorothy Peel were already aware of the special features of certain vegetables and cereals. The importance of drinking water, the medicinal effect of a homemade
broth, the advantages of steaming instead of cooking vegetables and fish, the role of carbohydrates and minerals, all of which topics that are nowadays presented as totally new or innovative ideas by trendy chefs and health gurus, can be found in their simple cookery book from 1918. Several recipes from The Victory Cookery Book, such as oatmeal sausages, mulligatawni soup, potato scones and a frugal Christmas Pudding, are included in The Wizard of the Kitchen, a charming biography about a remarkable chef, which gives an interesting and amusing insight into a little piece of English culinary history.
|Publication date:||28th January 2022|
|Author:||Trudy van der Wees|
|Primary Genre||Biographies & Autobiographies|