Claire Thomson – chef, writer and Instagrammer (her account 5 O’Clock Apron is full of weeknight dinner ideas suitable for the whole family, and sees her kids cooking as much as she does) – is back with a brand new cookbook, Home Cooking Year.

We caught up with her to dredge up her most memorable recollections of cooking and eating…


Thomson’s earliest memory of food is…

“Probably sitting in Africa, and my mum making my brother and I eat shepherd’s pie three nights running, because she said, ‘No, we’ve got to eat it, it’s fine!’ And every night we put more ketchup on it, and by the third night it was brought out again, we were like, ‘Don’t make me eat it!’

“That, or I must have been three years old, sitting on the step in our house in Africa peeling lychee, and the juice just doodling all down my bare legs, and finding that a really fun thing to eat, sitting there by myself and all the ants coming up on the step.

“[Also] my mum says that when I was about 18 months, I was sitting in the garden eating a banana and a baboon came over the wall and came and took the banana out of my hand, and my face dropped and I just started screaming.”


Her culinary high is…

“We went to Laos and went to a guesthouse, and we asked to learn how to make this amazing green curry. We didn’t speak Laos, [and the woman showing us] didn’t speak English.

“We were so excited, and she took us to the market and just bought the green curry paste from the guy who makes the green curry paste! [She told us it was] ‘The best – no one buys it from anyone other than him’. We were like, ‘Oh’ – but that’s so reassuring, isn’t it? There’s not some woman who has 110 spices, bashing them out in a pestle and mortar, you go to the man who sells the good stuff, bring it home and add coconut milk. It was just so funny.

“I’ve cooked all over the world. I love cooking and chatting to people about food.”

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Peach Jam, for winter, forever. #the5oclockapron #theartofthelarder

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And her worst kitchen disaster has to be…

“When I first started as a commis chef, I had to cook these beans – different ones like cannellini and borlotti – and I was a bit eager and exuberant and put them all in a big pan.

“I thought I’d done a really good thing, put them on to boil, and the chef, who was a bit of a nightmare, came over and said, ‘What an imbecile!’, shouting that all the beans cook at different rates, ‘How could you be so stupid?’ Then he made me sit on a crate, and I had to separate the whole pan of beans, that was quite hard. Never did it again. Lesson learned.”

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Home Cookery Year, my next book, out Sep 3rd & so big, I think you could easily stop a car from rolling down a steep hill, if you needed to, or as my publisher @sarah10016 pointed out, if you stand on it, you can reach the top of the cupboard. Here with Bristol birdsong, and still no aeroplanes in the sky above my garden, a timely reminder (new book spam, forgive me) that we are all still very much at home, so I’m hoping this book will sell gazillions on publication (tho’ nice too to get off to a good start with plenty of preorders) & provide people with a comprehensive & practical blueprint on how I cook, day in, day out, on loop, through the seasons, round and round, on and on and on we go, spring, summer, autumn, winter. Fingers & toes and everything crossed for a vaccine 🌈 #homecookeryyear #the5oclockapron #familyfood

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Home Cookery Year by Claire Thomson, photography by Sam Folan, is published by Quadrille, priced £30. 

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