As an accomplished Natal-based cook who is the Head Chef at Hartford House in Mooi River, Jackie Cameron has already made a name for herself, creating innovative recipes using the freshest local produce. We were delighted with the news that Jackie has just released her first cook book, titled Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home, and caught up with the chef to find out what’s in store for those who are keen to get into the kitchen and put her recipes to the test… Congratulations on your first cook book. How has it been received so far? Thank you so very much. I actually can’t get over everyone’s enthusiasm and interest in my book. Overwhelming but truly wonderful. Can anyone cook these recipes or are they reserved for more accomplished chefs? I have had a monthly column in the Natal Witness for the last five years. Over these years I have learnt exactly how to write a recipe to ensure the person reading it can make the dish at home. There is no point in compiling a recipe book filled with recipes that can not be made at home. This is the how-to book for the real basics. I’m really just trying to get people into their kitchens to cook. If people are cooking well at home they expect a higher standard from restaurants and so in turn the entire industry is uplifted. How would you describe the style of cooking you demonstrate in this book? Real home cooking; cooking with loads of love and flavour. Doing things properly with no short-cuts. Why the decision to ‘don your home apron’ and invite people into your home? My home is a friendly place, a place where I learnt to love food and all things food related. In a way I want to share the love and get more people cooking at home. It is not difficult if you know how and have a recipe book that you can trust. What has your experience at the helm of Hartford House taught you about fine dining? Wowie, where do I begin? I think fine dining at home is always what I experience. Beautiful ingredients, cooked with care in a stunning environment, served to family or friends using my best cutlery and crockery, no matter the occasion. Off nights, especially for me, are cherished and always celebrated. I pay just as much attention to detail at home as I do at Hartford – always making a point of ensuring all are happy. Can you share your favourite recipe from the book? This is like asking a parent who their favourite child is! There isn’t a favourite but every recipe has a story or reason for being in the book. What’s next in the pipeline for the Jackie Cameron brand? Mmm… if I told you I would have to kill you. Honestly, there is always something in the pipeline but some things just take longer than others. I have designed my male chef-jackets, to complement my female slim-lined jackets, but this is really still in the beginning phases. I hope for these to be available by the end of the year. This month we celebrate the theme ‘Easy Living’ at HL. What does this concept mean to you? Easy Living in my mind means having all items around me at home that allow me to feel automatically relaxed. My home must be a retreat away from the crazy hustle and bustle of my everyday life. Finally, where can our readers find and purchase Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home? At any good bookstore or online. Find it at Exclus!ves, Kalahari, Loot, or Takealot this May. Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home retails at around R250. To stay updated with the latest happenings follow @jackie_cameron on Twitter or visit her website, jackiecameron.co.za.