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Sabrina Ghayour - why I moved to Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 June 2019

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham


Chef Sabrina Ghayour has upped sticks from London to make Yorkshire her home. She's passionate about the produce on her doorstep. Kathryn Armstrong found out more over cake and scones.

Sabrina Ghayour is a bringer of joy and fabulous food. She created a passion for pomegranates in the nation's kitchens with her first book, Persiana, and now she's turned her energies to veg - and a happy addiction to life in Yorkshire.

Inspired by her 'new best friend', the Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks, Sabrina and mum Shoreh have left London behind and bought a home in North Yorkshire near Easingwold where they are loving the pace of life, sense of community and inspiring food on the doorstep.

Often literally. Neighbours have been popping by with bundles of rhubarb and asparagus for Sabrina.

Then there's the garden. The wild garlic in abundance is getting Sabrina very excited, and she can't wait to start the sowing and growing in her vast garden to create the inspiration for the magical recipes inspired by her Iranian heritage.

'We have fruit trees and so much garden - I've never had so much as plant pot on the windowsill before,' she laughs.

London is still where she spends a good amount of time for work but her delight in finding a new life in the country is obvious.

'What I love about Yorkshire is that people have a lot more time for you. It has taken us no time at all to fall in love with the differences between London and Yorkshire.

'People are a lot more relaxed, kinder - not that people in London aren't kind but we hustle and bustle and push past people and honk horns at each other and hide from each other in our buildings.

'In Yorkshire everything is about your friendships - you do need your neighbours in a small village.

'People are just lovely and it's been a breath of fresh air and that's the kind of fresh air that I was missing. It's been a whole change of pace.'

She found Yorkshire through Tommy Banks; eating at his restaurants and making friends with his family.

'I so admire Tommy. He's taught me a lot about the seasons. I am impressed at how responsible, diligent and hard-working he is at such a young age. He has achieved so much and is so modest. He is my first connection to Yorkshire and his food is so delicious.'

We meet at Bettys in York after Sabrina has spent an afternoon at a jam-packed lunch and book signing at the Durham Ox in Crayke and prior to another signing at Waterstones which will be followed by dinner at Tommy Banks' Roots restaurant.

She's full of warmth and energy as she eyes up the cakes, orders a couple for us to share and talks about her attitude to food, recipes and life in general.

'On the hoof sums me up as a human being,' she says, talking about the pace of life, creation of recipes and the need to get the details of a new dish down on paper straight away, before the moment is lost.

Her mum now works for Sabrina on recipe development and the obvious question is whether she inspired her to cook?

Many a chef cites learning to cook at their granny or mum's apron. Not so Sabrina - no 'licking the bowl' romance there.

'My mother doesn't cook, neither did my grandmother,' she chuckles.

'My mother had a love of food and we would try lots of different foods. She had adventurous tastes and I loved that.

'I have memories of Betty Crocker cake mixes and boil in the bag cod!'

Sabrina made a name for herself with Sabrina's Kitchen supper clubs and her breakthrough book, Persiana was a huge success, selling more than a quarter of a million copies.

The latest book, Bazaar, is a vegetarian cookbook, a reflection on the fact that increasing numbers of people are eating less meat but still want exciting and taste-packed food.

In the book she explains: 'I've found that as I get older I simply don't seem to be able to enjoy meat in the excessive and voracious manner in which I used to, or digest it as easily.

'Having said that, I remain the world's safest bet for winner of the 'Least Likely to Turn Vegetarian' prize, so for me the book showcases and celebrates how wonderful and satisfying meals can be when they contain only fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains and dairy products.

'The book is written with meat-eaters in mind because I feel it is we who really need the most help and inspiration.'

There's comfort food in abundance with soups, bowl food, pies and breads as well as store cupboard sustenance and 'moreish mains' which feature harissa black bean ragu, potato ricotta and herb dumplings.

Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian and Plant-Based Recipes by Sabrina Ghayour is published by Mitchell Beazley octopusbooks.co.uk

Sabrina's local heroes

Home Farm shop at 
Beningbrough Hall

Sand Hutton asparagus

Eating at Skosh or Roots in York

Haxby Bakehouse

Shepherds Purse cheese

Brooke's Deli (the petrol station) Shipton by Beningbrough

Lishman's of Ikley - great salami

Sunday lunch at the Dawnay Arms in Newton on Ouse or the Durham Ox at Crayke

Staal Smokehouse

Hartley butchers, Tholthorpe

The Greengrocer, Thirsk

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