Meeting Celia is an utterly charming experience. Her smile is broad, her eyes shine bright and when she talks food there is no denying her passion not only for quality produce, but for the want to share and enjoy culinary experiences together.
Celia Brooks is a chef, food tour guide, regular contributor to TV and author of nine cookbooks.
Celia Brooks is a chef, food tour guide, regular contributor to TV and author of nine cookbooks. Originally from Colorado, Celia has now lived in London for over 30 years. Moving to the UK, to pursue a career as a theatre director, initially, she took her first step into professional cooking working as a private chef for film director, Stanley Kubrick and his wife.
Cooking for Stanley Kubrick
Whilst Celia’s career ambitions may have first begun in theatre, she soon found cooking to be an equally fulfilling creative outlet.
Celia talks warmly about her time at the Kubrick’s and it’s where her obsession for cooking with good quality ingredients, particularly fresh and seasonal vegetables, was first ignited.
At Stanley Kubrick’s home was a large Victorian walled garden, and each day the gardeners would present Celia with a glut of fruit, vegetables and herbs – from which she would choose what to cook and how.
She recalls how she felt inspired by the beauty of ‘her materials’. She quickly learned ways to make the most of vegetables in season and how it all tasted exquisite when it was freshly picked or dug up, that same day. The different daily variety also allowed her to draw on her artistic skills.
"Cooking for others is very similar to putting on a performance – it is about bringing different elements together and presenting something to an audience – to be enjoyed together."
The appreciation for homegrown produce never left Celia, and in 2004, she got her very own allotment in Tottenham. Whilst she doesn’t profess to be an expert gardener, she advocates the joy of ‘growing your own’ and encourages everyone to give it a try – to experience that unique sweetness and the complexity of flavour of something which is freshly picked and eaten, rather than shop-bought.
Inspiring a passion for food in others
Alongside appearances on highly regarded cooking TV shows and at live food events, as well as the publication of several cookbooks, (as if that wasn’t enough!), Celia also offers something truly exclusive to share her passion for food with others.
In 2002, Celia started her food tour business, Celia Brooks’ Gastrotours, offering the opportunity to join her for an insider’s view of London’s vibrant culinary hotspots, including Marylebone, Covent Garden and Portobello. Specifically, she offers the only tasting tour around the world-famous Borough Market.
Once again, Celia’s theatre background has enabled her to offer something unique – with the vibrant market, becoming the stage and set; the wonderful, passionate traders, as well as the food itself, the co-stars; and the small tour groups, the very special audience members. It’s all about making a connection.
“I want to inspire people to love good food and I will do whatever I can to get it in front of them!”
Taking tour groups around the many stalls and outlets allows Celia to offer the groups a truly sensory experience too – seeing the magnificent displays, smelling each offering, before savouring the individual tastes, as well as combining different flavours.
Each tour is specially designed to make the most of that day’s best produce and is packed with the opportunity for exclusive food and wine tastings. Celia gets to tell the participants not only about the foods, but also introduce the sellers and the producers – their history, their story, their passions.
Due to the pandemic, Celia had to pause her food tours for much of 2020 and 2021. This led to a new opportunity for sharing her food knowledge and experience through online demonstrations, cooking classes, group tastings and consultation sessions. Fortunately, her in-person tasting tours are now back up and running.
Collaborating with hampers.com
So, why did we want you to introduce Celia? Primarily, because we share her passion for great food and memorable experiences…but, secondly, our Gift Experts have teamed up with Celia, to hand-select a range of the finest food ingredients to create two brand new and exclusive hampers, which make the perfect gifts for those who love to cook up a storm!
Using Celia’s expertise to guide you through tasting the contents of the hampers, she then uses the ingredients found within to create a selection of recipes to give you inspiration for your own cooking.
Find out more about this exciting range of hampers and watch the videos about her recipe ideas here.