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Stories

Studio visit: Rosie Ramsden

We talked to recipe writer, stylist and artist Rosie Ramsden to learn about co-founding Charcoal Art Club, her use of seasonal ingredients and the secret of writing Monoware recipes.

Rosie cooks like she paints – with a light touch, colour and shape – making food taste exciting without changing the ingredients too much. She enjoys discovering how to get the most out of fresh produce, starting simple and developing a recipe into something distinctive. Home is Hackney but she will soon move to Yorkshire with an eye to grow her own produce and use the local landscape to inspire her cookery. Her cookbook The Recipe Wheel was published in 2014.

What food reminds you of your childhood and why?

Growing up on the Isle of Wight meant sandy sausages, hedgerow blackberries, fresh figs and crab sandwiches. I remember long summers with long picnics, everything smelling of sea and seaweed and coming back from the beach with salty hair and hungry for barbecued buttery sweetcorn.

At what point did you consider a career in food?

I’ve always worked in food and started out in a cookery book shop in Notting Hill. Food writing, styling and cooking was initially inspired by a year abroad in Italy (I studied Italian at university), where markets were plentiful and I just wanted to look and cook and eat and paint and write.

Life drawing forms a big part of your life - what inspires your work?

Yes! I run a weekly life drawing session (currently online) with Kitty Coles. I draw a lot, and 4 years ago I asked followers on instagram if they wanted to draw too. There was an amazing response so we put together a life drawing supper club in Hackney. It’s the highlight of my week.

Can you tell us more about the Charcoal Art Club?

Roughly 5 times a month we run an hour’s life drawing. We book incredible models and lightly lead the class so that by the end you have a huge body of work and feel like you’ve accessed the creative side of your brain. We send out materials too: beautiful paper, willow charcoal, an excellent felt tip, dried flowers and Kitty’s cookies.

What’s the secret of writing our delicious Monoware recipe?

For me, it’s about thinking what’s in season, who you’re cooking for, when you’re cooking it. It’s about finding a balance of texture, flavour and colour. And staying away from stress. As a recipe writer you want the cook to feel at ease.

As we are moving into summer, what seasonal ingredients are you most excited about?

There’s so much to play with. Beetroot, broad beans, fennel, runner beans, radishes, good tomatoes...

What’s your personal style of hosting?

I think this summer we’ll all be eating outside a lot. So I’ll be making picnic food that doesn’t break backs (make some bits ahead and bring fresh things to assemble) or dinners in the garden with bowls of simply cooked, delicious and nourishing food, large bowls of salad, a loaf of bread and good butter, food to share. And of course, a cheeky cocktail and good wine. 

Do you have a cookbook which can’t live without and why? 

I adore the new Towpath: Recipes and Stories by Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson. It brings home excellent memories from dusky dinners by the Regents canal. Also, Violet by Claire Ptak. I tend not to use cookbooks so much for savoury food but for sweet things it’s always that. Books that have recipes with personal association I always love to cook from.

And to finish…

What is your favourite piece in the Monoware collection? 
The cereal bowls - just so lovely to start the morning with. 

What is your most treasured item in the kitchen? 
Probably the coffee pot. Sounds insane, but something I definitely can’t live without. Followed closely by our cast iron pans by Netherton Foundry. 

Two dream guests for a dinner party? 
It’s always friends for me. Two friends, merry and dancing, round a table for hours in the garden. I’d clam up and get very embarrassing if I had famous people there.

Photograph at the top by Emma Lee
All other photographs by Matt Russell

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