Book Review: The Great Australian Cookbook

Genre: Cooking
Publisher: Blackwell&Ruth/PQ Blackwell, Echo Publishing

Though at times they’re overshadowed by their international peers, Australia has a wealth of incredibly talented cooks and chefs. So when they join together to make a cookbook in support of a social initiative like OzHarvest, you know it’s going to be amazing.

‘The Great Australian Cookbook’, like the name suggests, is a celebration of Australia and its culinary traditions, packed with names you know and love, and new cooks to fall in love with. It’s a collection of recipes ranging from comforting nostalgia to modern creations, the sort you’ll come back to over and over again.

This is a cookbook that embraces the Aussie-ness, and if you’re looking for a serious and formal look at the current crop of talented Aussie chefs, you might be a little disappointed. And while there are elements that take the theme a little too far for personal tastes, overall, this is a beautiful ode to the great Australian cook.

The cover art, by iconic artist Reg Mombassa, sets the tone wonderfully- it’s hard not to love that familiar kitchen scene. This is, truthfully, the sort of beautifully presented book you’re probably going to hate to get messed up in the kitchen.

There are lovely elements throughout- from the handwriting of the chefs, down to the beautiful photography that captures the personality of the cook, and the landscape they work in. And the recipes themselves are simple without being dull, full of new ideas to explore that won’t break the bank or hike the stress levels.

But the best part, in a way, is that the royalties go straight to supporting OzHarvest- a vital social initiative in Australia. OzHarvest takes imperfect but otherwise quality foodstuff from retailers- the slightly blemished stuff usually overlooked by fussy shoppers- and gives it to charities helping battlers to keep food on their tables. As such, OzHarvest balances two incredibly important initiatives: helping those in need while drastically reducing the amounts of needless waste heading to landfills.

To put it in perspective, every week, over 100 tonnes of food is rescued by OzHarvest, and given to those in need. So shouting yourself a copy of ‘The Great Australian Cookbook’ doesn’t just set you up with some awesome new recipes- it also helps struggling families, and is good for the environment!

‘The Great Australian Cookbook’ is published by Blackwell&Ruth (formerly PQ Blackwell) and Echo Publishing, and is available at all the best booksellers.

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review by Kylie Thompson

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