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Ravinder Bhogal, 30, who has just penned her first cookbook, “Cook in Boots,” (HarperCollins), believes women should succumb to their desires — especially when they involve carbohydrates, chocolate, and shoes. Bhogal was working as a beauty writer for the mass-market British fashion weekly Look when she beat 8,000 other hopefuls in a cooking competition on Gordon Ramsay’s TV show “The F Word.” She has since presented documentaries for BBC radio and television network and was crowned “the next Fanny Craddock” by Ramsay, who was referring to the Fifties British television cook and culinary legend.
SPICE ROUTE: Many of the book’s recipes draw on Bhogal’s varied background. Her family is originally from the Punjab region of India, and in the Fifties her grandfather moved to Kenya, where she was born. When she was seven, the family moved to Kent, in southeastern England. As a result, British, Far Eastern, Indian and East African influences all infuse her cooking, though one of her greatest inspirations remains the freshness of the food in Kenya. “My grandfather had an allotment and we had chickens in the garden. The food in Kenya is so rich and juicy.”
SOME LIKE IT HOT: When she was five, Bhogal’s mother told her the only way to snare a husband was to become a masterful cook, but her eleventh chapter, “Fork me, Spoon me: The food of love and rude food,” must surely have made the more traditional members of her Indian family blush. “For a new boyfriend I’d cook anything you could pick up with your fingers. Such as the asparagus kisses wrapped in Parma ham or roasted paprika quails with Romesco sauce,” says Bhogal. “Quails are such tiny little birds that one needs to down forks and knives and rip away at the flesh. It’s sexy eating.”
PRET-A-PORTEA: As the book’s title suggests, Bhogal is also obsessed with killer heels, and counts Marni and Nicholas Kirkwood among her favorites. And when the fashion-savvy chef isn’t browsing the shoe department at Liberty or writing — she’s already at work on her second cookbook, featuring “more indulgent food” — she loves taking time for afternoon tea. “One of my favorite dishes is pudding made of scones, raspberry jam and custard. But when I stopped being a journalist, so too did my invitations to tea at the Wolseley,” she says, referring to the popular, all-day brasserie on Piccadilly.