Malcolm Jolley meets author and broadcaster Christine Tizzard.
It’s common now for culinary professionals to aspire to a career in show business but model and actress, Christine Tizzard, has done it the other way around. Newfoundland born and raised, Toronto-based Tizzard, who trained at George Brown, was for two seasons the host of CBC Television’s Best Recipes Ever and continues to make TV appearances to cook, and presents a YouTube channel, The 3 Way Chef. She also works behind the scenes as recipe developer and food stylist for magazines and corporate clients. Her new book, Honest to Goodness, focuses on her home life, as a busy working mum of two children and passionate advocate of cooking healthy whole foods from scratch. I spoke to Christine Tizzard recently at GFR’s Toronto offices to find out more about Honest to Goodness.
This interview has been edited for length, clarity and style.
Good Food Revolution: Is Honest to Goodness your first cookbook? You have a multi-media career, and I wasn’t sure.
Christine Tizzard: It is my first cookbook, but here is another cookbook out there with my picture on the cover. It’s from the the two seasons I did on CBC of Best Recipes Ever. So, yes I am on the cover of the book from the show, and I have a few words in it here and there, but all the recipes were done, and all the photography was done, so it was really just about putting it all together. Honest to Goodness is mine. I learned how to write and find my voice. I had creative control.
Good Food Revolution: It certainly comes across as a personal project. If you look at where my copy is opened, I thought this part of the book was hilarious. ‘A Few more Notes on Packing Lunches’. When you write that there’s no point in labeling anything because it’s just going to get lost. You’re basically like, “give-up, it’s hopeless”.
Christine Tizzard: [Laughs.] When I was working with my editor there was a lot of back and forth about me not being too negative! He would tell me to try and put a positive twist on it. But you know, every morning packing a school lunch is a bit of a nightmare. And every September, every magazine or blog or whatever will have articles about how to pack school lunches with cookie cutter shapes of everything looking so perfect. And I’m like, man, that’s not happening in my house. And you know, I didn’t put in too many school lunch recipes because people are going to pack a school lunch with whatever they have in the house and whoever their kids will eat, anyway. So, I just wanted to give the reader my Cole’s Notes, what I’ve learned over the years. What works, or what works for me.
Good Food Revolution: Was the idea behind the book?
Christine Tizzard: Well, there were two things I wanted to do. One was give people really great, accessible recipes that they can adapt easily and take some of the stress away from preparing daily meals. But, I also wanted to push it a little bit. I want to push people towards from scratch cooking and eating. I want to get people to cook from scratch by educating them a little bit on techniques and a few things I’ve learned from years of cooking for may family, plus being a chef and a food stylist and all that kind of stuff. I wanted to pack the book with as much information as I thought was valuable.
Good Food Revolution: When I go through the book, I see there are a bunch of letters on top of the recipes. This says GF, does that mean “gluten free”.
Christine Tizzard: Yes. Having kids, I am aware of all the allergies and parents are often asking me how to adapt recipes. And were in an age where there are so many fad diets. So the idea was to at least make it easy to what’s in each dish. So, there’s “V” for vegetarian, “LS” for low sugar, “GF” for gluten free, and “NF” for nut free, which I thought was important for parents. And with most recipes I’ll give a tip at the bottom, ‘how to make this gluten free’ or something like that.
Good Food Revolution: I saw at the beginning you have a recipe for “gluten free flour” which is not something I think I’ve seen before.
Christine Tizzard: It’ a really simple gluten free flour. A lot of recipes have a lot of different ingredients and a lot of them use corn, or a sugar-base flour. This one uses sorghum, which is a great grain, and it’s cheap. I use it some other recipes in the book, too. I get kind of obsessed with things, like a lot of foodies or chefs. I went through a period of time when I made a lot of bread. I went through a period of time when I made a lot of kefir. And, so, there was a period of time when I was playing with a lot of gluten-free flour. I came across these proportions and thought, this is really easy and it works. And you know exactly what’s going into your food.
Good Food Revolution: It’s in the first section of the book called ‘The Basics’.
Christine Tizzard: I think the hardest part of writing a cookbook is deciding on the table of contents and deciding on how you’re going to put all these recipes into these sections. So, I thought why not just start with a chapter that was all the base recipes, which become ingredients that people can use throughout the cookbook?
Good Food Revolution: Usually those recipes are at the back of a cookbook.
Christine Tizzard: Yeah. I thought that if I wanted to be really educational, and really get people to start cooking from scratch, these things should be at the front. These are the basic building blocks for the whole book, so I put them in the front.
Good Food Revolution: You have a seriously multi-media career. Who is your audience?
Christine Tizzard: I think that working for the CBC got me thinking about families and people with kids. And people who want to cook and like to cook! And people who want to eat healthy. That’s my audience there.
Good Food Revolution: Sounds like “people”.
Christine Tizzard: Yeah, people like me, I guess? You know, people always ask me about the book, are the recipes easy? And I say, yeah many of them are easy, but a lot of them aren’t. I didn’t want to write a cookbook where every single recipe was just five ingredients and super easy because, for me, cooking is about the experience – not just eating the dish. I wanted Honest to Goodness to be a gamut of everything. Some recipes are super easy, but I also want to give people the tools to do a Thai curry from scratch.
Good Food Revolution: The book is set-up around different occasions, or different ways of cooking. Like the second chapter after ‘The Basics’ is called ‘The Morning Rush’.
Christine Tizzard: Right. The Morning Rush is about trying to just get everyone out of the house without anyone crying. [Laughs.]
Good Food Revolution: There’s a whole chapter on ‘Sides’ as well, which I’m not sure I’ve seen before.
Christine Tizzard: That’s something I struggled with because at first I had a table of contents that was super simple. I think I had five headings. And, to me, a ‘side’ can also be a ‘main’. Soup and a salad can be the main meal. But because I had more recipes than I originally thought, we could really divvy them up. So, I thought if someone was looking just for a side, to go with a main, I could separate that out. If I’m planning a dinner party, I’ll often know that I have a particular protein in the fridge, but I might wonder what I’m going to serve on the side. So, I thought the ‘Sides’ was an easy way to make Honest to Goodness user friendly.
Good Food Revolution: And that’s how people cook, right? You know you’re going to roast a chicken, or put a steak on the barbecue, so maybe you want to do something more interesting on the side.
Christine Tizzard: And it’s a build-up, too. I wanted to follow people through the day: start in the morning, then soups and salads at lunch, and sides and mains for dinner. Then, fancier things, like theme nights and stuff like that.
Good Food Revolution: Including ‘Bake Sale Recipes To Get You Through The Year’!
Christine Tizzard: Yes!
Good Food Revolution: I get those emails from the school. They want me to bake!
Christine Tizzard: This book is very personal. It speaks to things in my life that I have found troubling, like the kid who comes home and tells you they have a bake sale tomorrow. It always leaves me scrambling to see what I have in the cupboard that I could possibly use to bake something. There’s only a handful of recipes for the bake sales, which is fine because you only need a few to get you through. I also had a lot of baking recipes, so it was a way to categorize the simple ones and separate them out. But it’s always about feeding your family and trying to eat healthier.
Good Food Revolution: Butter is healthy.
Christine Tizzard: Butter is definitely healthy. Marshmallows? Maybe not.
Find out more about Christine Tizzard at christinetizzard.com.