Restaurant Industry News speaks with Life Kitchen’s Ryan Riley on the launch of his new book Taste & Flavour, for people suffering loss of taste and smell as a result of Covid-19
Firstly, congratulations on the launch of the new cookbook! It is amazing that this is particularly for those suffering loss of taste and smell as a result of Covid-19, tell us a bit more as to why this inspired you to create the cookbook?
We’ve been working with taste loss caused by cancer treatment for years now, people kept coming to us asking if we could help, we knew we had to do something but it took some time to bring together the research, support and finances, writing books is expensive!
Your work at Life Kitchen is truly inspiring; please tell us more about what Life Kitchen is and how it helps people.
Life Kitchen is a free cookery school that helps cancer patients enjoy food again. Cancer treatment can often take away the pleasure in food and we simply couldn’t let that happen, both myself and my co-founder Kim lost our mothers to cancer, so we knew the problem well, Life Kitchen was born to help people enjoy food again.
What motivates you to support people through cookery?
When I lost my mother, my life felt empty, to an extent it still does, but I wanted to give back, food brings me the most joy, so it felt right to try to help others.
Many are still suffering or going through this, how can the cookbook help people?
We looked at some of the world’s first research from the likes of professor Barry smith, charities such as AbScent and Altered Eating and our own independent testing to research trigger ingredients, things like garlic, onions, roasted meats and more have been found to be deeply unpleasant tasting to long Covid suffers, so we used this base information to create delicious recipes with our signature Life Kitchen flavour principals.
Talk us through one of the recipes in the book and what ingredients are used.
The apple and ginger ice lollies with shichimi togarashi dip is such a simple recipe but designed to be extremely refreshing, the shichimi togarashi dip is the perfect blend of spice, citrus and savouriness, giving the palate a boost of flavour at every opportunity.
How important was it to ensure research was carried out in order to create specific recipes?
Life Kitchen has always been based in science so this was no different for us, Professor Barry Smith has been part of the LK team since the beginning and when we heard he was working on one of the world’s first pieces of early research we knew we had to use it wisely.
How vital was the ingredient selection process?
We tested hundreds of recipes but more importantly we had to carefully look at every ingredient and make sure none of them were trigger ingredients.
Rediscovering food and what appeals to the palate can be difficult, how does Life Kitchen support people?
We offer free recipes and cookery classes to people living with cancer and now Covid, it just seems right that we help everyone enjoy food again.
Food can sometimes be underestimated in recovery, how can people become excited by food again?
Eating without taste is without pleasure and that can be dispiriting, so cooking a visually interesting, delicious recipe that’s been tested and developed specifically to help people, that can give an emotional lift.
How can people access the cookbook?
The book is free to order at LifeKitchen.co.uk (£3 p+p)
Photography by Craig Robertson
Food styling by Angela Boggiano
Design by Lawrence Morton
Edited by Judy Barratt
Project management by Dayna Brackley and Shaun Riley
Printed by Hardback Books