Men Love Pies, Girls Like Hummus - Simon Rimmer
Following the success of his previous cookery books — The Accidental Vegetarian, Rebel Cook and The Seasoned Vegetarian — Simon released his latest cook book ‘Men Love Pies, Girls Like Hummus’ in April. And he’s not stopping there — June 2013 will also see the launch of the Simon Rimmer beer range.
JESSICA FOGARTY meets the celebrity chef at BeerX — the celebration of British beer, staged at Ponds Forge Sheffield by SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers — to find out more about his new range of beers, his love for vegetarian food and his latest and strangely named cook book.
Q When did you first discover your passion for food?
A Quite late on in life actually. As a child, I dreamed of being a footballer, like most young boys do, but leaving college, I realised I wasn’t actually that good at football so I decided to study for a fashion and textile design degree. I launched my own range of hand decorated table wear which was quite a success and was sold in a few department stores, but after a while I realised that wasn't right for me either.
While I was at college, I worked part time in bars and restaurants and I loved the buzz and atmosphere — that’s when I decided to take a career change and have a go at setting up my own restaurant, armed with two cook books and no idea how to cook.
Q Why did you decide to open a vegetarian restaurant?
A I’m not a vegetarian but I saw a gap in the market for a restaurant of this type. I opened the restaurant 22 years ago and back then there were very few dining out options. I planned to sell it on within the first two years, but then I fell in love with it. I created dishes that I wanted to eat and flavours I wanted to create. my aim was to change the way people think about vegetarian food — vegetarian dishes can be full of flavour and food is all about balancing ingredients, it’s not just what side to put with steak or chicken.
Q Tell us about your new cook book ‘Men Love Pies, Girls Like Hummus’.
A There is actually a story behind the name. The first part — ‘Men Love Pies’ — is a conversation I heard on the bus between two little old women whose husbands’ were putting weight on and they were discussing why, when one of them said, “Well, men love pies!” and I thought it was brilliant, I wanted it on a T-shirt.
The second part — ‘Girls Like Hummus’ — comes from this time when a guy I knew liked this girl and wanted to invite her over for dinner and we were going through different things he could cook for her, and he turned to me and said: “Well, girls like hummus, I’ll just pick some up from the supermarket”. The title is two phrases completely taken out of context and I have had a bit of grief from it on Twitter but it’s not sexist at all, just based on stories. The book consists of tasty recipes for feel good hearty food.
Q You’ve also invented your own range of beers, tell us about that.
A I’ve invented beers to go with food. There’s three to choose from — beer with curry, beer with chicken and beer with steak. The beers can be enjoyed on their own, with a meal, and you can cook with them too. I’m working with Robinson Brewery in Manchester who I proposed the idea to a few years ago. As someone who drinks beer it is so exciting to see my name on the bottle! The curry one is designed to rival Cobra and Kingfisher; we don’t have a British brewed beer like that at the moment. The chicken one is a golden ale, while the steak one is darker with flavours of steak and chocolate.
Q Where did the idea come from?
A I think people have a tendency to order wine with their meals, or they’ll just order a pint of lager out of habit. I know myself, from past experiences, it’s not easy to find the perfect drink to compliment your meal. I love beer and wanted to make it easier for people to know which flavours go with certain foods.
Q Where can we buy them from?
A They’ll will be sold in my restaurants, a selection of pubs and in all major supermarkets nation-wide from June 2013. I literally cannot wait to walk into the supermarket and see them on the shelves. It’s every man’s dream to have his name and face on a beer bottle!
Q How long did they take you to create?
A It took a while to get exactly what I wanted — the brewery were fantastic to work with and were patient with me until we got the perfect product.
The curry beer we got right pretty much straight away, but I wasn’t prepared to rush the project. I was specific with what I wanted — I knew the chicken beer to have a citrus, lemony finish, the steak beer to have a smoky taste, and the curry beer to taste refreshing. The curry beer is actually suitable to go with all spicy foods.
Q What about beer with fish and other flavours?
A Well my next plan of action is to expand the range with more flavours. Once I have some feedback on my first three creations, I'll have a clearer idea which will be popular.
I’m also keen to launch the range in smaller measurements too — sometimes a large beer can be overwhelming with a meal.