Someone who I really admire in the allergy-free community is Chef Jimmy Boswell. Known as The Gluten-free Chef, Jimmy is well known for his work as a TV Presenter, Author, Food Stylist, Food Blogger and first and foremost as a Chef.
Recently I had a Q&A session with Jimmy, and thought I’d share his words of wisdom with y’all.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I started cooking at the age of five in my Mum’s kitchen. Being 1⁄2 Sicilian it was a natural and expected thing to be active in the kitchen from a young age. I also didn’t have a choice.
I have had a varied and active working life that has included running extreme sports companies in countries like Nepal. I have owned a garden centre, been an orchard manager and the list goes on.
I grew up learning about real food growing, cooking and this has created the foundation of my chef persona.
Why did you get into chef’ing?
That’s easy. My love of food and to see the lights go on in peoples faces when they tasted my dishes. Real food, real taste and real flavour is what I love to cook. As a food writer I am able to share my love of food and this is a wonderful feeling.
What inspired you to become a specialist in gluten-free and allergy cooking?
I am gluten intolerant and also very reactive to soy. My migration to GF was a natural need and for me, is all about getting back to the basics.
Where do you get your recipe ideas from?
For me its based on presenting food that has core and accessible ingredients that when you bring them together offer great taste.
There are so many variations that can be made from every day, real food options.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with food allergies?
Connecting with people that are in the same position is the first thing.
People are more than willing to share how it was for them and with the internet we have access to wonderful groups on and offline that provide support, ideas and help.
Never be scared to ask questions. One day it will be your turn to help others with your ideas and story.
What advice would you give to chefs who are new to allergy-friendly cooking?
Planning to remove cross-contamination is the core issue. Coeliac New Zealand have great information for food processionals that detail the ‘how to do’s’. There is NO assumption when it comes to catering to allergy-friendly food. We have to take care and be 100% careful.
Never assume that it will be all right as it won’t.
How do you avoid cross-contamination in your own kitchen?
I am lucky and my house is dedicated gluten free so there are no issues for me.
How would you describe your overall approach to food?
• Cook from fresh.
• Prepare stocks and sauces in advance and freeze for later use (meals in minutes).
• Shop local, seasonal fresh.
What do you cook for yourself as a special treat?
A yummy pavalova with whipped cream and seasonal fruits. Its a once or twice a year treat. Sometimes I will make it into a Eaton Mess.
A yummy recipe from Jimmy …
Spicy Orange Chicken
¼ cup raw honey
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp finely shredded orange peel
¾ cup orange juice
2 tbsp grass fed butter
Spicy Orange Chicken
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-cm (1 inch) pieces
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups shredded cabbage
4 red onions, sliced
1 cup broccoli (cut into small pieces)
1 red capsicum, sliced
a few splashes of sweet chilli sauce
To make the orange sauce, combine sugar, flour and orange peel in a small saucepan. Stir in orange juice and cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, then set aside.
Put the chicken pieces, flour and paprika in a zip-lock bag and shake to coat the chicken evenly.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Once hot, add chicken pieces using tongs, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until chicken has browned and is cooked through. This will not take long due to the small size of the chicken cubes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Add the vegetables to the pan, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes until they are heated through. If they are sticking to the pan you can add some more oil or water. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the chicken back to the pan. Pour the orange sauce over the mixture and add a splash or two of chilli sauce. Stir to combine and heat through.
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