With five cherished restaurants and multiple Michelin stars under her belt (including the famous Spotted Pig), April Bloomfield is the most powerful female chef in New York. This spring marks the release of her second cookbook and memoir, A Girl and Her Greens—the lighter and verdure-friendly follow-up to 2012’s much-salivated-over A Girl and Her Pig. We recently talked to the renowned chef about everything from the making of her new title to her farmers’ market tips.
Why did you want to do a follow-up book called A Girl and Her Greens?
I’m known for cooking whole animals and lots of meat in general, and I wanted to show another side. I actually really love vegetables, too—they’re very versatile. I also wanted to tie in to the last book, so it’s still got some fun stories of me growing up, or things I did in my adult life, and things I’ve eaten.
When you start working on a book, do you sit down and sketch out ideas or the first memories that come to your mind?
Exactly. I usually just write a huge long list of all these recipes that I want to delve into, or just ideas. Then I write my ingredient list without the measurements, followed by my method and how I envision myself to cook it on the stove.
Are there any vegetable dishes that you’ve eaten and never forgotten?
Szechuan fried beans with pork! I love the perfect texture of the green beans and the spice, and you get this little bit of meat.
You’ve been cooking in New York for a decade now; do you think the direction of your cooking has changed in any specific way?
I ended up cooking more Italian when I first got here [from England], and then I think I swayed toward more British. Later, I blended the two and made them unique to my style.
In the book, you talk a lot about shopping at farmers’ markets. Do you have any tips on how to buy vegetables?
I like to get there nice and early and do a quick walk-through. I make sure that I’m paying attention to the vegetables and how many there are of everything. I try to do that as fast as I can—then I come back and I start to buy stuff that caught my eye, or that I tasted and was delicious.
What are your favorite vegetables to shop for in the spring?
After a long winter, there’s nothing more pleasant than cooking something that is light, vibrant, clean-tasting, and healthy. I love peas and artichokes.
I feel like the last 10 years brought this farm to table movement, and also locavorism, where people try to buy locally grown ingredients and cook at home. What do you think the next culinary revolution will be?
Lots of people that have farms themselves now. Maybe chefs will have their own farms, and people will start growing a lot more on their windowsills.
You are one of the biggest role models to women who want to make it in the food industry. What would you advise to young women chefs that are just starting out?
Just be sure that you want to do this, jump in and put your whole heart into it. Work hard and pay attention to what people say. Then, hopefully, you’ll be a success and you’ll get to do whatever you want to do. The harder you work, the more doors that open.