Rory O’Connell, by John McKenna (Book Review)

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Rory O’Connell’s book, “Master It – How to Cook Today”, is not so much a treatise on Slow Food, but more a treatise on Slowly Does It Food. It is that rare thing is today’s hyper-speed world: a patient book.

Many readers will find it not just a personal text, but a personality text, as if Rory is in the kitchen with you, looking over your shoulder, suggesting a tweak, a pinch of seasoning, another twist of the dough there, don’t let the stock bubble too fiercely, ah that’s lovely, well done, delicious.

Mr O’Connell’s aim is to get you to understand the dishes in all of their potential perfection. He might have sub-titled it “The Devil Is In The Detail” because, as a cookery teacher, he knows that, and knows it all too well. How you start, and how you finish, a dish is always of pre-eminent importance, so the recipes lead you slowly through key stages as the baton is passed on.

It might take three pages or more of instruction before you get to the end of the dish. No matter. This is not a race: this is all about concluding the journey safely and successfully, this is all about the best mash you can make, the best pheasant with red wine and bacon.
“Master It” is distinguished by its singular authorial voice. Where other male cooks want to impress you and show off with their food, Mr O’Connell wants to guide you to the promised land, whilst making sure you enjoy the journey. It’s that rare thing: a wise cookery book.

Master It - How to Cook Today, Rory O'Connell (Fourth Estate)