The Urban Cook

By: Mark Jensen


A book review by Franz Scheurer


Mark Jensen is both a terrific cook and committed to saving the environment to the best of his ability, leading us all to make sustainable food choices, be that in your supermarket, kitchen or backyard. He believes strongly that you don’t need to drop out, become a farmer and live off the land to make sustainable food choices but you can do your bit in the city; hence the title, The Urban Cook. 

Visually, this is a stunning book, with a rustic feel in an artsy but no-nonsense sort of way. This book showcases Mark Jensen’s craft (he’s head chef at Sydney’s Red Lantern) where he produces food that doesn’t only look good, but is full of flavour. He’s believes that the provenance of the food is of utmost importance and here he parts with about a hundred recipes that teach you to make deceptively simple food that is both achievable and sustainable. Following his lead, this is simpler than you think. Although the book caters for carnivores it is an utter delight for vegetarians, as many dishes do not rely on animal protein. I love the simplicity of dishes like the ‘Sauté of Fresh Spring Peas in Lemon Butter’ or ‘Gnocchi with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce’ and my inner cook gets excited at the more involved assembly of the ‘Chicken & Banana Blossom Salad’. Desserts are not neglected and the ‘Mini Savarin Cakes with Poached Kumquats’ caught my eye. I have two helpings, please!

This is a book that deserves a place in your home; not on the bookshelf but first at the breakfast table where you read it to find your inspiration for the day and then in the kitchen where it will hopefully become a well-thumbed and fat-splattered addition.

ISBN 987-174967234

Published by Murdoch Books

RRP: $49.99

Available April 2011