Chefs and cooks from across Oxfordshire, have contributed some of their favourite recipes to a new cookbook to support Oxford’s Sobell House hospice.
Food and Kindness, available from Monday, is a very special kind of cookbook and has been published to raise awareness and funds for the hospice.
It’s also about recognising some of the local businesses in the food and drink industry that have supported Sobell House over the years, and have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The book brings together over 30 stories and recipes from a wide range of local chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and celebrities, many of whom hold Sobell House close to their heart.
Alongside a recipe for hummus from Stephen Fry you will find one for orange and carrot cake from Barefoot Bakery, and beetroot and mint burgers from The Butchers Arms in Headington.
A recipe for the perfect vegetable soup handed down to TV’s Mel Giedroyc by her mum is included and there is a tasty vegan lunch courtesy of Sue Perkins.
The star of BBC 3 mockumentary This Country, Paul Chahidi, who is an ambassador for Sobell House, proudly showcases his Mediterranean pork, lemon and parmesan meatball dish.
Alongside these famous supporters, plenty of Oxfordshire eateries have also got involved with the book, giving readers the chance to make some of their best-loved dishes at home and discover the stories behind each unique venture.
Among these are waterside destination The Cherwell Boathouse with breaded halloumi and sweetcorn fritters; city-centre brasserie No. 1 Ship Street with French onion soup; and South Indian restaurant Bhoomi Kitchen with Keralan fried chicken.
“If it wasn’t for Sobell House I’m not sure how I’d have ever coped. They are the most lovely, selfless people who make the lives of others a priority”
Other favourites include Arbequina, Aziz, Oli’s Thai, La Cucina, The Mole Inn and The White Hart at Fyfield, the latter sharing the secret of their elderflower crème brulee with gooseberry compote. Oxford Fine Dining’s recipe is for chicken breast with pea puree and wild garlic hollandaise.
And don’t forget the contributions from local food writers Lotte Duncan and Christine Wallace, The Secret Supper Society in Oxford, Cuttlefish, The Natural Bread Company and Michelin starred The Nut Tree.
Since 1976, the Sobell House hospice, which is jointly funded by the NHS and Sobell House Hospice Charity, has been providing specialist end-of-life and palliative care to local people with life-limiting illnesses as well as supporting their families. The staff believe that every adult should be able to die with dignity and without pain.
The whole cost of the book has been sponsored by local businesses which means all the money raised goes to supporting Sobell House
Yazmine’s mother Gina was cared for at Sobell House. She said: “If it wasn’t for Sobell House I’m not sure how I could have ever coped. They are the most lovely, selfless people who make the lives of others a priority, working long, hard hours but always maintaining a high standard of care and love.
“I will always be forever grateful to everyone at Sobell and hope this great place will continue to care for many years to come.”
“We were really keen to do something a bit different to your usual charity cookbook and we think we have”
The idea of the book came in March just before lockdown when Sobell House’s Head of Fundraising, Lorraine Pink, realised that Covid-19 was going to have a serious impact on the charity’s income.
She said: “We needed to look at alternative ways to engage with our supporters as we could no longer hold our annual fundraising events. A cookbook featuring local businesses who have been so kind to Sobell House over the years, seemed the perfect choice.”
Tim Wraith, who has worked with Sobell House for many years was the ideal person to lead this project. He said: “We were really keen to do something a bit different to your usual charity cookbook and we think we have with this.
“One of the big drivers was to promote and thank our local foodie community, many who have been so supportive and generous to Sobell House over the years.”
So why food specifically? “At Sobell House, we receive incredible kindness from the local hospitality businesses and this is an opportunity for us to support them at this tough time. Plus I’m a massive foodie.”
The whole cost of the book has been sponsored by local businesses which means all the money raised goes to supporting Sobell House.”
Food and Kindness is a 144 page paperback and retails at £15. It will be available to purchase from local bookshops and at https://sobellhouse.org/shop/online-shop/food-kindness-the-sobell-house-cook-book
Sarah Edwards and Katherine MacAlister