Meet Cook & Baker: Katie Brigstock and Safia Shakarchi

How did you both meet?

K & S: We met whilst we were living abroad! We both studied Spanish at university - Katie at The University of Edinburgh and Safia at King's College London, and we picked Madrid as our year abroad destination. It was then a mutual friend of ours that said we had to meet whilst we were out there because she thought we were both so similar, i.e. obsessed with food (Cathy, we owe you one!) We met early on in the year and spent the rest of the time cooking at each other's apartments, eating in every restaurant we could find and travelling to new foodie destinations.

What is your favourite city?

K & S: I think we will both have to say Madrid! It's the most warm, welcoming, lazy and relaxing city, filled with beautiful people who love to just spend their days eating and drinking in the sun. We had no idea it was such a foodie place before we went, but now looking back, there couldn't have been a more perfect city for us. Really, it's where this all began. Although we must say, we both have a very soft spot for Bali, which is actually probably our favourite place in the world - and Marrakech, which is full of the most vibrant, colourful and delicious food we've eaten to date.  

What is one fun fact about the other person?

S: Katie has the most incredible ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. It's amazing because she can survive on such little sleep, and then spend the entire day running around doing all sorts of things as though she isn't at all tired, but then sit her down for about 30 seconds and she will be out cold. Even if it's on a rock. I swear!! I have a collection of photos of her asleep from whenever we travel together... on trams, chairs, boats... they're now known as the The Katie Sleeping Diaries. 

K: Saf's decision-making conundrums in restaurants - I think sometimes the waiting staff are totally amused by her enthusiasm for everything on there - "ooooooh I'll have that, no wait, how did you make that? That sounds interesting, we'll have one of that too!" If you dine out with Saf, you'll never miss the best dish! She also has this insane ability to know where EVERY great cafe/coffee shop/restaurant is. I could be in the tiniest village in some remote part of Wales and Saf would know where in that area I'd find the best cup of coffee!

What are your favourite things to Cook and Bake?

K: Everyone jokes that most of my recipes start with half a packet of butter. To be honest, butter is the source of all great things in life and having trained on a rather classical course at Leiths, my love for butter is definitely up there. Having said that, some of my favourite things to cook and eat are Vietnamese and Thai food. I love the colours, the fresh taste of the dishes,  the simple yet delicious flavour combinations. You can't beat a great Vietnamese bun cha - smoky pork meatballs, salty and sweet dipping sauce, fresh crunchy vegetables and soft, pillowy rice noodles! Absolute heaven. 

S: I know this must sound so boring, but really, is there anything better than a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake?! I love baking all sorts of things, from tarts to pastries to puddings, but sometimes I just like keeping things simple and making a good old cake - one that I know my family will love. What I really love most though is Middle Eastern baking - the kinds of stuff that my grandmother taught me to make when I was little. The first thing I think I ever baked when I was about 4 years old were date & cardamom biscuits that we call Kleicha, and every time I make them now it takes me right back to her kitchen!

 

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