Justin Bonello is the host of Cooked – the popular cooking adventure show, broadcast by BBC Lifestyle on DSTV. Justin comes across as a seriously down-to-earth kind of guy who loves to cook outdoors, for friends, using the best produce this country can offer. And he is proudly South African – I think this is one of the things that make him such a likeable character.
Cooked in Africa is his first published cookbook. It is a unique compilation of places, spaces and flavours and combines Justin Bonello’s three favourite things: Southern Africa, food and friends. For him there is no better way to de-stress from everyday pressures than to get together with a bunch of friends and hit the road, immerse yourself in natural surroundings, cook up a storm and have a party.
Sounds good, right?
Well, I got my hands on a copy over Christmas and after having a page through the book I think it is beautifully put-together and wildly entertaining. Justin stays true to form and shows us the art of adventure cooking with some delicious sounding recipes that definitely makes you want to go camping just to try them (because it just wouldn’t be the same if you had to do it in your own kitchen).
Admittedly, I would say the book is not for beginners – you do need a bit of kitchen experience but at the same time the whole pretext of the book is to ‘give it a try’, in other words, grab some ingredients from the fridge and try whip something up – if it fails – so what, who cares… that is the beauty of cooking.
In my humble opinion, only the dedicated adventure cook is really going to attempt most of his recipes. While they sound and look yummy the average home cook is not going to hang a leg of lamb from a tree over a fire or make a pizza oven out of a dustbin.
I think if you are looking for a fun, entertaining and daring cookbook to stretch your culinary tastes and skills then buy it now but if you are looking for recipes for a quick meal after work then give it a skip until you have more time to spend on indulging your taste buds and enlarging your stomach!