Eating Well with Gizzi Erskine
How did you first become interested in cooking?
I come from a family of people who love to eat and cook. My mum and I bonded over it. When she praised me for the food I cooked, I liked the response I got; that’s where the interest started.
I moved out young, and in my mid to late teens I threw a lot of dinner parties, cooking for friends. I started off with a career as a body piercer, but I thought “I can’t do this forever” and so I went to work at a restaurant. From there, I went on to study at Leith’s.
I ended up winning an intern placement at BBC Food, doing writing for them. It really helped me get my career off the ground. I was able to carry on with food writing, as well as starting to do pop-ups.
What is your foodie philosophy?
I believe in eating progressively. We know how much trouble the world is in, and what we have to do. I believe in eating a variety of organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products.
During the pandemic, people have been able to go straight to the source when it comes to buying products like this, and they’re so affordable, especially organic veg.
I think it’s really important to reduce your meat consumption, and to buy from your local farm or butcher. Organic British meat is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable, and there are things you can do to ensure you eat less, such as using meat as a seasoning, for example.
Can you tell us about your latest collaboration with ZENB Pasta, and the dishes you’ve been creating?
I really love ZENB pasta. It’s the first pasta in the UK to be made from yellow pea flour; it’s genuinely sustainable and really good for you, as it’s high in protein as well as carbs.
I get sent a lot of things but the ZENB pasta stood out, as it’s so delicious. When it’s cooked, it really keeps its bite. I began playing around with recipes, getting creative with old dishes and trying out new ones. I made a minestrone with the macaroni pasta; it was delicious — I’m hooked! And another dish I created was penne alla vodka, which was one of Audrey Hepburn’s favourites.
Could we hear more about your latest foodie business, Giz & Green?
Yes, I started it with my best friend Steve, a musician also known as Professor Green. During lockdown, we started running these Instagram live sessions where I taught him how to cook. We teamed up each week to run Giz & Green’s Monday Night Fakeaway, and it became really popular - our take on the Big Mac made impressions around the world.
When we could, we ran a pizza pop up, and it was bonkers — at our first one we sold 25,000 pizzas! Although they are takeaway food, they’re really healthy and high end. The bases have a three day rise, and they’re made with organic flour, and the crusts are stuffed with mozzarella.
We’ve just launched Giz & Green as a delivery service. Running a delivery is a very different process to doing a pop-up, and we’re constantly working on it to make it better.
Finally, what restaurants do you plan on heading out to now lockdown is lifting?
As many as I can! The hospitality sector need our support, and I’ve missed eating out. I’ll be heading to Roti King and a wonderful Malaysian place called C & R Cafe Restaurant.
Brat, Brawn and Nobu are also top of my list — I’m really looking forward to some funky Japanese sushi.
Gizzi Erskine’s Fennel Sausage, Courgette, Pea & Wild Garlic Fusilli
Want to try one of Gizzi’s pasta recipes? We love her fennel sausage fusilli with shredded wild garlic! It’s paired with a pinch of chilli and courgette ribbons.
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