Cordon Bleu trained, Lucy Young has almost 30 years experience in the fast-paced cooking industry and has written eight cookery books to date, whilst being a co-author of a number of others. We've taken the opportunity to ask her a range of questions. Read below for Lucy's cookery tips, tricks and the top of her bucket list.
If you hadn’t been a cook, what would you have become? Probably a florist, I did my florist qualification at the same time as my cookery and it was a tough choice between the two, but I think I made the right choice as a career and just love flowers at home.
Do you have a favourite go-to ingredient? I have a few basic favourites: lemon juice, Dijon mustard, mango chutney and soy sauce. These are great for an extra in a dish.
Are there any foods you particularly dislike? Truffles and truffle oil – I really don’t like it and it is used so much in restaurants, especially when a delicious soup has a drizzle of truffle oil on top!
What would be your best cookery tip for a novice? Keep it simple, find a good easy recipe to follow and do not try and do anything too fancy. Read and weigh accurately until you have more confidence.
If you could have dinner which anyone, past or present, who would it be and why? Trust me - Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc, Claudia Winkleman and Sue Perkins are a pretty hilarious combination for any dinner date! We may have to have a chair for George Clooney, too.
Have you had any kitchen nightmares? I made a very large chocolate birthday cake and when the birthday girl went to cut it, I realised I had left the non-stick paper in the middle of the cake! Horrified, I took the cake to the kitchen, pulled the paper out like a magician and returned the slightly less-perfect cake to the party!
What’s the best meal you’ve ever cooked? Oh golly, I think you would need to ask the people eating it! The first date and meal I cooked for my (now) husband was fillet steak, peppercorn sauce, dauphinoise potatoes and creamed spinach – it seemed to do the trick, as we’ve now been married 8 years!
What was the last book you read? Still Me by Jo Jo Moyes - I just love her books. I love a book you can get lost in. Sante Montefiore and Veronica Henry are my favourites too when you can see, feel and smell the places they are describing. I read with imagination so have constant pictures in my head. Also, I take ages to read a book because I have to be so accurate when writing and proofreading our cookery books, I read novels the same way - word by word, carefully and accurately. I wish I could read them quicker!
What is your favourite Sophie Allport design and product? So many to choose from, I have always loved the Runner Duck range, as we have 2 pet white Call Ducks called Frank and Matilda. I love the Hearts range – particularly the grey hearts coffee cup which I bought recently. The Artichoke fabrics are lovely, especially the hob covers. Flamingo is super cute for little girls, too!
Do you have any gadgets in your kitchen? I have a cream Kitchen Aid mixer for all things baking and a Magimix processor. My favourite item is my duck egg blue Aga, which sits proudly in our white and grey kitchen. It’s a strong colour, but we love it. Our kitchen is very simple, just a run of base units and a freestanding larder cupboard. There are no wall units as we prefer to keep it light and to have art on the walls.
What is top of your bucket list? Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat. We often visit South Devon. In warm summers they swim happily alongside boats – we have never seen them yet, but one day I hope they'll find us.
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be? To have more confidence, I was shy and always felt quite nervous. Next year I will be 50 and now realize I am doing ok. Mary Berry, who I have worked alongside for 28 years, has gone a long way to give me confidence. She has an incredible passion for mentoring and supporting young talent, is a joy to work with and we have so much fun.
For more information and plenty of cooking inspiration, visit Lucy's website here.