Author(s): Allegra McEvedy
The first Leon restaurant, in London's Carnaby Street, opened its doors in July 2004. For its founders - henry Dimbleby, John Vincent and Allegra McEvedy - the aim was to change the face of fast food, by bringing fresh, wholesome cooking to the high street. Six months later, Leon was named the Best New Restaurant in Great Britain at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. The menu is based around bold flavors, using simply-cooked fresh, local, natural ingredients with an emphasis on seasonal dishes; it also reflects how our eating habits change as the daylight house get longer and shorter.
This is a book of two halves. The Ingredients Book arms you with everything you need to know about the basic building blocks of any recipe. LEON chooses its ingredients above all for their flavor and healthiness but also with a view to the world we live in, so that such shark-infested waters as sustainable fish are tackled and easy to navigate. LEON's top 250 fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, dairy and store cupboard ingredients are all given their own entries. Nutrition, a bit of history, flavor and the best way to get the most out of them are all covered, seasoned with a fair amount of random miscellany.
The second half is The Recipe Book, where you can put your newly found knowledge of ingredients to great use with over 140 recipes: some are familiar favourites taken from LEON's menus such as the Original Superfood Salad, Moroccan Meatballs or Magic Mackerel Couscous and, for LEON Lovers everywhere, at last a recipe for the coveted LEON Better Brownie. Plus there are some recipes from the founders, their friends and those who helped make LEON what it is today, like Fred's Millennium Octopus and David Dimbleby's Spanish Omelette.
LEON's food message is a simple and honest one - cook and eat with the best ingredients available and don't forget the naughty bits that are so necessary for a fully-rounded life.
Allegra McEvedy has been cooking professionally for 20 years, working her way through a clutch of London's best restaurants before becoming more known for her work as a cookery writer for the Guardian as G2's Chef in Residence. In 2003, Allegra co-founded LEON, the award-winning, healthy, fast-food restaurant group, which currently has 11 restaurants serving over 70,000 people a week.In the summer of 2009, Allegra co-presented Economy Gastronomy, a six-part BBC prime-time series about spending less and using ingredients wisely. She is a Fellow of the RSA, a Spokesperson for The Fairtrade Foundation, and has written four bestselling books: The Good Cook (2000), Allegra McEvedy's Colour Cookbook (2006), LEON: Ingredients & Recipes (2008) and Economy Gastronomy (2009). In 2008 she was awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry.