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We can thank Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi for bring­ing colour and Mid­dle East­ern verve to Bri­tish cui­sine. The Is­raeli-bri­tish chef and writer’s first epony­mous deli/diner opened in Not­ting Hill in 2002. Three more delis, a restau­rant and sev­eral food and travel doc­u­men­taries later, his new cook­book Sweet ( 7, Ebury Press, £27), writ­ten with He­len Goh, is out this month (@ot­tolenghi; ot­ My all-time favourite piece of mu­sic is Nina Si­mone’s ( 4) Here Comes the Sun. It’s a song that man­ages to speak both to all the good days to come and all that has passed. It makes me miss my brother, who was killed be­fore his time, but it also makes me ex­cited for my kids and all the fun we’re go­ing to have. I’m cur­rently ob­sessed with the sound­track to Jill Soloway’s tele­vi­sion adap­ta­tion of I Love Dick. Two songs that stand out are Meshell Nde­geo­cello’s Ei­ther Way I Lose and Laura Mvula’s Fa­ther, Fa­ther. The record that makes me feel in­stantly happy is Prince’s Pais­ley Park. It’s cheeky, ex­cit­ing and a lit­tle bit an­ar­chic, which I love. Prince ( 2) was a ge­nius: al­ways push­ing bound­aries. The cho­rus to the ti­tle track makes me happy: ‘Ad­mis­sion is easy, just say you be­lieve and come to this place in your heart.’ The book that in­flu­enced me the most is The Book of Jewish Food ( 5) by Clau­dia Ro­den. It made me re­alise that a pas­sion for food and a pas­sion for words are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. My favourite film is Fargo, the 1996 clas­sic by the Coen broth­ers. I must have watched it at least ten times and I am still mes­merised – and of­ten driven to tears – by Wil­liam H Macy’s hap­less car sales­man char­ac­ter, and by the in­cred­i­ble Frances Mc­dor­mand.

The fa­mous quote that makes

me think is ‘Cul­ture tends to ar­gue that it for­bids only that which is un­nat­u­ral. But from a bi­o­log­i­cal per­spec­tive, noth­ing is un­nat­u­ral. What­ever is pos­si­ble is by def­i­ni­tion also nat­u­ral.’ It’s just one of many great quotes from Sapi­ens by Yu­val Noah Harari. Ra­dio and pod­cast-wise,

I like The Splen­did Ta­ble, Food Pro­gramme, Gas­tro­pod, The Din­ner Party Down­load and The Food Chain – can you spot the theme?! The last theatre pro­duc­tion I saw was This House at the Na­tional Theatre. It is a clever and very funny pro­duc­tion of a play by James Gra­ham de­pict­ing life be­hind the scenes at the House of Com­mons in the 1970s. It’s House of Cards with­out the big egos. If I had a free day in Lon­don I’d start it with a run around Re­gent’s Park ( 6) fol­lowed by break­fast at Fer­nan­dez & Wells ( 3) in Soho. Lunch would be dumplings at Im­pe­rial China in Chi­na­town ( 1). In the evening, I’d cook for friends, in­for­mally, at home. Next stop? I’m trav­el­ling to Amer­ica next month with my co-writer He­len Goh to pro­mote our new cook­book, Sweet (

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