Ex-Critic Food Columnist Releases Cookbook

Ex-Critic Food Columnist Releases Cookbook

From ‘Fuck, I Can’t Cook!’ to “Fuck, I wrote a book!”

Fuck, Alice Taylor can cook. The former Otago Uni student and Critic Te Ārohi food columnist turned chef released a baking book ‘Alice in Cakeland’ last month. This has come after Alice took a whirlwind journey from University, to Masterchef stardom, to cooking in some of the country’s most prestigious restaurants – all in the space of less than three years.

Alice came to Otago University in 2018 where she completed a Bachelors of History and a Masters in Politics. Since then, she has competed in the finals of Masterchef and worked in the kitchen of many prestigious restaurants in Aotearoa. While the pipeline of political science student to food author is not the most orthodox, Alice says she has carried much of what she learnt at Otago over to her culinary career. “A Masters teaches you many things. It teaches you dedication, perseverance, it teaches you skills and researching, dissecting information, creating a plan, and executing that plan,” Alice told Critic Te Ārohi. 

“I love politics. I still see myself being very much involved in politics, but I don't believe that we need to fit into one box. I don't think that you need to be like, ‘I'm going to be a politician or work as a public servant,’ you know? Why can you not write cookbooks and be really actively aware of the politics of the hospitality industry or the politics of food and food cost, the cost of living crisis [...] why can those things not be together?” 

Two days after wrapping up her thesis, Alice was in Queenstown for Masterchef, where she went on to compete in the finals. “I remember telling my supervisor, ‘Oh, sorry, I got cast on Masterchef, I need to finish early.’ He was like, ‘Okay. That's weird, but okay.’”
Shortly after that, she was offered a deal for her book, something that had been a childhood dream for the recent graduate. “I first started a manuscript when I was 15, so almost ten years ago. Some of those recipes have actually survived into this book,” said Alice. 

Her book aims to provide affordable and easy recipes, building from her days as the Critic Te Ārohi food columnist in 2021 when she was required to do exactly that. According to Alice, her book is “a complete consequence of Critic. The way that Critic taught me how to think about food and writing for the audience meant that I created a book that was very much centred around the climate that we live in.” 

“Every week for a lot of university students you have the dreaded, ‘Oh shit, I’ve got to cook’ flat meal […] For me, it was trying to create dishes that were genuinely super simple, really low cost, and really quick.” Alice says she has carried some of her recipes from her Critic Te Ārohi days into her book now. 

Alice, who currently works at Auckland restaurant Paris Butter, is already underway with her second book and has plans to soon open her own business. “There's many things in the works, but most of them are kind of secret,” she said. Okay girl, we won’t tell.

This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2024.
Posted 10:26pm Sunday 19th May 2024 by Harriette Boucher.