The Greatest Accidental Chef...

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  • Nick and Kathy Price

It's not so difficult to describe various people in the food world as “the greatest cook in the history of (choose the country you are writing about)”.

We once described Nick Price, of Nick's Warehouse in Belfast, as “the greatest cook in the history of Northern Ireland”. And we meant it. Others say it should be Paul Rankin, or Michael Deane, or the late Robbie Millar, and whilst we respect the work of these great chefs, Mr Price is the truly important guy, for he was the pioneer.

Being the pioneer makes you the greatest. We could say, for instance, “Myrtle Allen is the greatest cook in the history of Ireland”, and we would be dead right. France? Fernand Point. Spain? Ferran Adria. USA? Alice Waters. UK? George Perry-Smith.

So, Mr Price holds a truly significant place, and it is a joy to see that he has finally gotten around to writing a book about his working life, a book in which he disagrees with our assessment of his work, as one would expect.

“The Accidental Chef: The Nick's Warehouse Cookbook” is friendly, funny, and all about families: Mr Price's own family, the family of staff in the Warehouse, the family of customers who have going coming there for two decades, and indeed those who have been eating Nick's food ever since Daft Eddie's on Sketrick Island, which we remember from all of thirty years ago: I can still see those tables of sparkling fresh salads, such a revelation, and such a culinary revolution, in Northern Ireland in 1979. A chicken salad in particular, I think made with raisins, is still one of those dishes that taught me all about food in one single taste.

What sets Nick Price apart is his sense of humour. This is a funny, self-deprecating book, with delicious cooking. If you like Paul Flynn's writing, then you will love The Accidental Chef. It's human, fallible, and truly cultured, it's beautifully produced and printed, and the dishes are modest and delicious.

One more reason why Mr Price is the greatest cook in the history of Northern Ireland.

The Accidental Chef by Nick Price, Booklink, £20stg.