In Conversation with Kate Young

We caught up with blogger and cookbook author, Kate Young at the Emirates Literature Festival, to tell us about her new title: The Little Library Cookbook
Kate Young, author of The Little Library Cookbook
Kate Young, author of The Little Library Cookbook
March 18, 2019
By Maryanne Sparkes

Born and Raised in Australia, blogger and cookbook author Kate Young moved to London in 2009 to persue her career in theatre production. Finding comfort and inspiration in cooking, Young began a culinary blog which soon turned in to a critically acclaimed cookbook. We caught up with Kate to find out more about The Little Library Cookbook 

Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to being a celebrated cookbook author

I moved to England to 10 years ago to work in theatre – that was specifically what I wanted to do. I did that for 7 years and really loved it. I was a creative producer which meant that I didn’t often get to do my own projects – I was helping other people with their own work. So, on weekends, I just wanted to do something that was mine. I started blogging about 5 years ago, put recipes up online but nobody read them for a very long time until The Guardian picked it up! I signed a book deal and wrote The Little Library Cookbook.

The Little Library Cookbook was awarded one of The Guardian’s Best Books on Food of 2017 and was described as a 'Cookbook for Readers' by Nigella Lawson. How did you react to such an achievement?

It was just a great thing! I’ve loved reading cookbooks for years and the people who responded were really positive, warm and lovely. Food writers are a really nice community, which was something I didn’t expect. I’m still so shocked and how supporting and passionate these people, who I’ve admired for years, are about the work that other people make. 

What Inspired you to write The Little Library Cookbook?

It was very much an extension of the blog, being inspired by pieces of fiction – particularly ones I’ve grown up with. A lot of the initial recipes were from children’s books and particularly with things that I have grown up reading about in real but never eaten as I’ve grown up in a different country. I grew up in Australia and moved to England but I had never had a treacle tart but I knew it was a good thing as it was Harry Potter’s favourite dessert.

I had never had a treacle tart but I knew it was a good thing as it was Harry Potter’s favourite dessert!

It really informed what I wanted to make, so The Little Library Cookbook came out to that. I picked 100 recipes that worked in a cookbook so the idea was to take you from breakfast through to midnight feasts with an additional chapter on Christmas. That was there because there’s just so much Christmas literature to enjoy! It was very much about choosing the stuff that I loved to cook all the time, but also books that I wanted to recommend to people. Every recipe had to be something that I thought was great for some reason and was something that I always wanted to cook and eat! I’ve just finished writing my second book, which is coming out in October.

What’s your favourite recipe in the book?

I think that my favourite recipe in the book is probably the one that I use most often which is the Midnight Ramen and that came out of wanting a meal that was quick and easy when I got home from long days in the theatre, or from a party with a friend – just something you just put together with ingredients from the fridge. It's something that I can make now in less than 15 minutes, so it’s the thing that I still make most often because I always have those ingredients in the house. It’s from a book called Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, which I absolutely adore. It’s about a family, food and love – a sort of coming of age story, set in Tokyo. This recipe is all about adding whatever you fancy to it. I love adding tofu because it's such a great ingredient but you really can make it with anything. It uses a really simple mushroom and miso broth, so it’s vegetarian, it’s easy, and it’s cheap to make too!

How did you pick the characters from your book?

When I was writing the book, the blog was much easier. When it started as a blog, it was basically everything I was reading that week because it doesn’t have to have a structure or format and I didn’t want to repeat stuff too close together so I tried to pick something a bit different next week. But, really – you could repeat stuff or you could be a bit more flexible with it. However, the book needs to feel it works as a cookbook so you need to be able to open it and think “I want to cook that!” as well as thinking “Oh, what a nice reference!” Otherwise, it would be used as a nice coffee table book but I wanted it to be used as a cookbook and so I sat down with my publisher with at one point 250 recipes from different books. What I wanted to do was ensure that every single book featured was one that I had an affinity to throughout my childhood.

The Little Library Cookbook is available in all good bookshops now

Follow Kate on Instagram @bakingfiction