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Valentine Warner: It's nonsense to say you don't have time to cook

Nicola McCafferty
Yahoo Lifestyle
30 November 2012

Valentine Warner doesn't like to hear anyone say they don't have the time to cook.

The What To Eat Now TV chef reckons us Brits spend far too long making recipes too complicated  - something he feels has sparked this idea that delicious dinners mean hours in the kitchen.

In fact, as we catch up with Valentine ahead of him taking to the stage at this year's Taste of Christmas, he's calling for us all to keep it simple - and stop spouting 'nonsense' that we don't have time to cook.

[Related: Our pick of the best Valentine Warner recipes]

"We’re all far too quick to say we don’t have the time," he tells us. "The way the British talk makes it sound like we're far busier than any other nation in the world.

"Are we really so much busier than the French, Spanish, Italians who all have the time to cook and sit down and eat properly?

"Maybe it's because there's more of a culture of mothers cooking stuff, but they all have time – so this British idea of 'I'm too busy...What, too busy to do the most important thing in your day?"

The Dorset-born chef believes that we're not all suffering from lack of time, but lack of time management.

He continues: "It's nonsense we don’t have time. If we review our day and planned it differently, I would have got a lot more done. It's lack of time management not lack of time."

[Related: Valentine Warner recipe: steamed trout with ginger and enoki mushrooms]

And Valentine reckons that we'd all have a better day if we got in the kitchen and took the time to create a delicious meal.

"On one hand, you have this ‘food revolution’ going on, while at the same time other people tell me they don’t have time to cook," he tells us.

"I don’t understand it...  If you actually cooked, sat down and took the time, your day would be better anyway.

"Don’t eat a sandwich while looking at your iPod – take some time out. Cooking is important, it's how you pass on to the next generation.

"It’s a time for nurturing yourself," he adds. "I don’t want to be ‘got at’ 24 hours a day."

The acclaimed British chef, who trained under the likes of Alistair Little, said it's easier to make simple, delicious food as there's a whole wealth of culinary inspiration out there.

He explains: "How come we don’t have any ideas when we have the internet at our fingertips? Billions of recipes – how can you run out of ideas? None of it makes sense to me really.

"Fish typically takes no time at all. Or stews. [You could] take it out of the oven before you go to bed and take it to work the next day.

"Or salads! People always think they're boring, but there are a billion salads out there – or soup, or omelettes.

"How easy is it to make mushrooms on toast with a fried egg on top? Or open a can of corned beef, mix it up with potatoes and onions and make a corned beef hash – it's not rocket science."

So what about when it comes to impressing a houseful of guests at a dinner party?

"Keep it simple," he insists. "[When it comes to dinner parties], we all tend to cook something we’ve never done before that’s too complicated.

"Then everyone turns up and you spend your whole time in the kitchen flapping around and not being with the people you invited for dinner."

He went on: "It’s really instilled in me by Alistair Little, who I used to work for, [to keep it simple].

"If you cook a really delicious chicken with wonderful rice and lots of herbs, don’t presume that people will be disappointed if it's not elaborate. Better to cook simply and well, than complicated and badly."

And Valentine believes his top tips for budding foodies should be to not strive for perfection.

"Don’t worry if you muck something up," he says. "You’ll learn as much from disaster as you do from success.

"Don’t be too hard on yourself [either]. You might see all this perfect cooking on TV but every chef has made some disasters!"

He adds that so much of cooking is dependent on our mood too.

"Cook with love," he says. "If you cook in a bad mood you won't produce something good.

"[And if you're cooking from a recipe book], don’t take them as gospel.

"If it says cook for 12 mins, I don’t know whether your oven thermostat works. Take responsibility for your food."

Valentine Warner will appear at this year's Taste of Christmas, which will also showcase international flavours and exceptional festive cooking from the world’s top chefs including; Michel Roux Jr, Jean Christophe Novelli, The Baker Brothers, Ben Tish, Vivek Singh and Bruno Loubet.

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