A South Shields-born chef who’s cooked for Royalty, Presidents and Prime Ministers in his role as executive chef at The Ritz London has penned the world famous hotel’s first cookbook.
John Williams MBE has overseen The Ritz Restaurant since 2004 and has become one of the most-respected chefs in the industry, helping the restaurant to achieve a Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2017 for the first time in its history.
Despite all his successes, which include cooking for the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, John has never forgotten his Sanddancer roots and in the forward to The Ritz London: The Cookbook he reminisces about his childhood growing up in South Tyneside and how it sparked his love affair with food.
In the book, which is released today, the former Mortimer Road School pupil recalls: “I remember playing football on a Sunday morning – I was seven or eight. Mam shouted, ‘John! Help me with the potatoes.’ I dashed into the kitchen and scraped the Jersey Royals. As they boiled, she handed me a bunch of mint. ‘Chop that!’ I put the chopped mint in a bowl, added vinegar, water, a spoonful of sugar and mixed. Then I put the bowl into the oven, as instructed by my mother. That’s how she made mint sauce… and she still has that bowl (it’s a bit chipped now).”
The book celebrates the dishes served within the Piccadilly landmark and gives people the chance to recreate the dishes at home. It’s divided into the four seasons, with dishes for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter from the Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant, the iconic Palm Court and legendary Rivoli Bar. Recipes range from the simple, including the famous cinnamon shortbread, to the seasonal, such as pea and wild garlic soup.
John said: “It is a huge honour that the hotel is publishing The Ritz London: The Cookbook this year, which I hope will become part of the culinary history of this great hotel. I have always had a great love for The Ritz and for its time-honoured traditions, and it is a real privilege to have the opportunity to share some of my favourite recipes, dishes, passions, knowledge. I am extremely proud of the book and hope that it will provide enjoyment to people at home. For me there is nothing better in life than sharing good food with family and friends.”
•The Ritz London: The Cookbook by John Williams MBE is published by Mitchell Beazley in hardback at £30. Photography by John Carey.
•Read more about John’s South Tyneside roots here.
Fancy recreating a slice of The Ritz in your own home?
We’ve teamed up with publishers Mitchell Beazley to give away three copies of The Ritz London: The Cookbook, which will be signed by executive chef John Williams.
To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is return the token in today’s Gazette, along with your name, full address, and contact details, to Ritz Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton le Spring, Sunderland, DH4 5RA.
You only need one token to enter and all entries will be shredded once the competition has been drawn and not passed on to a third party. Books will be posted out to the winners.
Closing date: September 12.