There are things in life that we all would like to be better at.
Given the opportunity, we would like to be magically turned into better dancers, better lovers and better cooks.
But it is rare that someone will take the time and effort to show you how to improve. However, for those looking to brush up their skills in the kitchen, help is at hand. Keen cook Patrick Drake makes use of the opportunities for widespread access that the internet offers to get people more acquainted with food.
His blog, Dinner With Patrick, is quickly gaining attention and it’s not hard to see why. In his videos Drake shows that he has a very down to earth style. In addition, he provides a balance of not being patronising whilst also not assuming too much of the viewer. His videos go through the preparation of different dishes so you can see exactly what to do.
Having semi-successfully replicated his Spanish omelette, it’s a welcome relief to be able to follow his precise instructions and not be left shouting at a cookbook that comes with such directions as ‘wheelbarrowing the sprouts’.
He also runs a concierge service providing easy access to London’s hot nightspots and organises a lot of parties within the capital. I catch up with him before he heads off to Los Angeles to meet producers keen to hear his thoughts on new shows.
How did you get into cooking?
‘I first started when I was 12, trailing my mum around the kitchen. As a university student I had to be self-sufficient and with all that time on my hands I picked a lot of stuff up from watching cookery shows. I also went to France for a year as part of my studies and learned a great deal there. My time outside of university was spent cooking in a Swiss chalet, catering for 40 people a night. It was a baptism of fire into the world of large-scale catering but it was a great experience.’
Where did the idea for the blog first come about?
‘Once you get known for being a good cook, you get invited to a lot of dinner parties. People would ask me to come, I’d say yes and then they would say, “Oh great, what are you going to be cooking?” I enjoyed doing the cooking for these parties as people inevitably congregate in the kitchen so I could teach them a bit as I cooked. A lot of my friends would ask me how to do certain dishes and I thought the blog would be a good way to show them on a bigger scale.’
What has been the general response to the blog?
‘It has been great. People have been sending in requests for me to cook their favourite dishes, I’ve been asked to write for a couple of websites and now I’m talking to QVC, the shopping channel, about presenting their kitchen segments.’
What will you be doing in LA?
‘I’m meeting a couple of producers who have also seen the site and I will be talking to them about ideas for show concepts.’
What have you been up to recently?
‘I’ve just finished doing some work with a dating agency called Elect Club who asked me to do a video showing their guys how to prepare a meal. I think it’s a great thing to be able to do for a date, a girlfriend or your wife. It’s very easy to go into a shop and put down your credit card and get the latest Chanel handbag. But cooking a meal shows that you’ve put real thought into something and (usually) that’s more appreciated than something you’ve bought.’
What are your plans for the future?
‘My aim is to have my own TV show and thereby share my passion for food – using my blog has been a great stepping stone towards that goal.’
What are the best and worst aspects of food in London?
‘I would say that the best thing about food in London is the cosmopolitan mixture we have. You can walk down a typical street and have ten different types of cuisine to choose from. The worst thing about food in London is the stuff you get served in pubs. Tourists come to England looking for typical English food and often make the mistake of walking into a pub where they get scampi and deep-fried frozen food.
‘When I travel abroad, I feel like I have to be an advocate for British food. I want people to realise that the old stereotype no longer holds true – we now have some of the most talented chefs and some of the most incredible food in the world.’