Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul

Like most bakers, I am a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off and so much so that I must have all the  cookbooks released by the contestants. One of my favorite contestants is John Whaite who won the coveted cake plate in 2012, Season 3 of the show. 

Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul is John’s latest title and is the balm needed to heal whatever ailment might present itself – a hard day, a broken heart or frustration that we can’t watch the latest bake-off for another year!

All of the author’s titles are beautiful and happily on my bookshelf and Comfort is no exception. Stunningly photographed and filled with dishes that are approachable and cozy, this book is a keeper. It feels like home – I know that might be a strange description of a cookbook, but it is how I would describe the contents. A steamy bowl of soup or a plate of creamy risotto enjoyed by the fire watching a favorite show or movie all feels like home. Comfort, safety, feeling cared for and loved, that is what home means to me and that is how this book makes me feel. 

The following recipes are available for our members to try now:  

When my friend, Ron at Kyle Books, asked if I would like to interview John for our members, I jumped at the chance. I had just watched Season 3 and John’s talent and charm were still fresh in my mind. I hope you enjoy John’s responses below. 

Thank you, John, for taking time to answer a few questions for our Eat Your Books members. We are 200,000 cookbook lovers and many of us are fans of GBBO and yourself. Of all the contestants, you made me laugh the most.

That’s very sweet – thank you. I guess that’s better than making you cry the most 😉

So many exciting things have happened since your GBBO win! Forgive me if I ask a question or two about GBBO. Besides winning, of course, what was your best experience while competing?

It’s all a huge blur now, because it was over six years ago and at the time I was in the middle of law degree so I was utterly focused. With that focus, I think, came short term memory loss. I guess the most fun part (aside from winning – which actually wasn’t all that fun because it signaled the end of the experience) was the social aspect to it all. Cathryn and I would spend our evenings drinking prosecco and having a good laugh – which was such a welcome respite from the craziness of degree and competition.

What dish made in the tent failed that you thought was going to succeed and which dish was successful that you thought would be an utter failure?

My Torte Noir, which Mr. Hollywood dubbed as the ‘chocolate breezeblock’. I thought it was going to be a masterpiece, but it resembled nothing other than a giant chocolate slab from the builders’ yard. It tasted amazing, even Paul said so (and let’s face it, he doesn’t mince his words). But it was aesthetically challenged.

I didn’t think my gingerbread colosseum would ever come into being. I imagined it being as derelict as James’ barn, but I think something switched in me that week – my sense of competition outran my very reactive emotional side – and I just kept my head down and got on with it. It’s important to try and maintain emotions in competitions – I wish I had known that from the start.

I have all your books and find them inspirational. Your latest, Comfort, is filled with dishes that warm the soul and many of them have international flavors – Korean disco fries and Korean popcorn chicken – amazing. Do you enjoy using global influences in your recipes? What is your favorite international cuisine?

I do. I don’t feel at all tethered to the cuisine of my motherland, which probably says a lot about me. I am a traveler at heart, and food is an extension of who we are. So I suppose my tastes reflect, if not flow from, my sense of adventure. I’m not a nomad – I love my creature comforts – but I can’t hang around a place for too long or I get very twitchy.

I want to make every recipe in Comfort (and truthfully all your books) do you have an absolute favorite dish from Comfort? – Favorites from your other titles?

I always say: asking a cookbook author to pick a favorite dish is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child – we all know she has one, but it’s impertinent to ask. Though, to be honest, I seldom have time to revisit my recipes. By the time I’ve put one book to bed, I’m either developing recipes for the next, or for my cookery school. I do enjoy that side of the career, it’s ever changing, and while I hate the idea of food having trends, it does, so my ideas have to constantly evolve with those of the society as a whole. But I think, if I had to choose a recipe from Comfort, it would be Korean Fried Disco Chips, and my Marmalade and Tea Puddings to follow.

Which do you enjoy more – cooking or baking and why? Does one come easier to you than the other?

Baking I enjoy most because it’s therapeutic. It’s not mindless, and so it has a wonderful way of consuming my thoughts – which, as a deep-thinker, is something I’m in constant need of. It is my Prozac. But when I cook for my family (two hairy blokes and a scruffy mutt) I can’t help but feel grateful for them, and the fact I can nourish them with food is symbolic – food is the ultimate conveyor of love.

What are you plans for the next book?

Now that is round of cards I have to keep close to my chest… but it’s based on convenience with class.

How many cookbooks do you have in your collection? Which books are your favorites?

Well I’ve just had to put a load in the shed to make room for my law books – I’ve started training as a barrister just this week, and have been given a suitcase full of very heavy, boring books. I have about 1300 cookery books, some of them I never open, but I wouldn’t be without their spines shining down on me as I write my own.

Lastly, since we are cookbook lovers, what authors do you turn to for inspiration?

Oh the lot: Diana Henry, David Tanis, Ottolenghi, Bertinet, and Nigella. Claudia Roden is one of my favourites.

Special thanks to John Whaite for his time and to Kyle Books for arranging the interview as well as providing three copies of this wonderful book in our giveaway below.  

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and UK. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on November 27th, 2018.

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  • jmay42066  on  October 5, 2018

    Minced beef and horseradish pie

  • lpatterson412  on  October 5, 2018

    Apple cider curlers!!

  • VickiO  on  October 5, 2018

    Mushroom and artichoke lasagna!

  • riley  on  October 6, 2018

    Pickled orange fennel

  • merkusje  on  October 6, 2018

    Indian shepherd's pie with a sag aloo top

  • cake17uk  on  October 6, 2018

    I'd try Aubergine, courgette and halloumi bake – it has my favourtie cheese!

  • t.t  on  October 6, 2018

    Tarka dhal

  • heyjude  on  October 6, 2018

    BLT Italian Style

  • debbiehb  on  October 6, 2018

    BLT Italian style

  • Tanner14  on  October 6, 2018

    Who wouldn't want to try Breakfast ramen?

  • JRumi  on  October 6, 2018

    Clementine and cardamom upside down cake

  • dtremit  on  October 6, 2018

    The Shepherds Pie with Sag Aloo top sounds great! Would also love a recipe for his coliseum cake, but I doubt it made the cut 🙂

  • Maefleur  on  October 6, 2018

    You both have me wanting to try the Korean Disco Fries/Chips!

  • katenolan  on  October 6, 2018

    I think every recipe should start with "First, make a cup of tea." So I'm sticking with the Marmalade on toast and tea puddings. (Plus, marmalade is severely underrated!)

  • mpdeb98  on  October 6, 2018

    Szechuan and leek pulled pork with salt roasted pineapple

  • infotrop  on  October 6, 2018

    Lemon and pea pearl barley risotto with twice-marinated feta

  • BMeyer  on  October 6, 2018

    pecan cranberry and dark chocolate pie

  • BMeyer  on  October 6, 2018

    pecan cranberry and dark chocolate pie

  • allthatsleftarethecrumbs  on  October 6, 2018

    Apple cider crullers.

  • ravensfan  on  October 6, 2018

    Pea soup with Parmesan pretzel crust

  • tennyogirl  on  October 6, 2018

    Pea soup with Parmesan pretzel crust

  • LaurenE  on  October 6, 2018

    Indian shepherd's pie with a sag aloo top

  • matag  on  October 7, 2018

    BLT Italian style

  • rchesser  on  October 7, 2018

    The Pea soup with Parmesan pretzel crust.

  • MiMi60  on  October 7, 2018

    I would like to try One-pot tarragon chicken, mushrooms and rice.

  • choppergirl  on  October 7, 2018

    Crab and Sriracha mac 'n' cheese

  • southerncooker  on  October 7, 2018

    My son loves marmite and we all love Welsh rarebit so Marmite and cheddar Welsh rarebit.

  • demomcook  on  October 7, 2018

    Balsamic short ribs with cornbread

  • aggyps  on  October 8, 2018

    Crab & Sriracha Mac'n'Cheese, sounds like it's going to taste like something I’d like to eat.

  • Asparagusberry  on  October 8, 2018

    I'll go with the Korean Disco Chips and the risotto also sounds amazing!

  • kmn4  on  October 9, 2018

    Ovaltine banana malt loaf

  • sarahawker  on  October 9, 2018

    Salt beef hash

  • banba1  on  October 12, 2018

    Fascinated by this one: Marmite and cheddar Welsh rarebit

  • annieski  on  October 13, 2018

    Mushroom, spinach and ricotta Yorkshire pudding sounds yummy!

  • jifar  on  October 14, 2018

    The Cherry and Amaretti Crumble cake

  • dcradicrn  on  October 14, 2018

    Crab & sriracha mac n cheese sounds so comforting and filling!

  • verorenee  on  October 15, 2018

    breakfast ramen sounds interesting

  • eatysmith  on  October 16, 2018

    Indian shepherd's pie with a sag aloo top!

  • maria411  on  October 16, 2018

    Clementine and cardamom upside-down cake sounds amazing!

  • herosky  on  October 17, 2018

    I would love to try Crab and Sriracha mac 'n' cheese first. My partner and I love putting Sriracha on our macaroni and cheese, so this is right up our alley!

  • Dannausc  on  October 19, 2018

    Marmite and cheddar rarebit

  • RSW  on  October 20, 2018

    Artichoke and mushroom lasagne

  • NaomiH  on  October 22, 2018

    Korean disco fries

  • babiafi  on  October 22, 2018

    The apple cider crullers.

  • EmilyR  on  October 22, 2018

    Aubergine and feta chilaquiles

  • hdh747  on  October 23, 2018

    the clementine and cardamon cake

  • Breeze81  on  October 24, 2018

    I'd love to try Aubergine, courgette and halloumi bake first.

  • HArlow  on  October 24, 2018

    Korean disco fries

  • modbaker  on  October 24, 2018

    This books sounds amazing! I'd love to try the Devil's Curry.

  • stepspior  on  October 25, 2018

    Crab and-Sriracha Mac & Cheese

  • Shelley.b  on  October 26, 2018

    Crab and siracha mac and cheese

  • sequoia55  on  October 27, 2018

    Clementine and cardamom upside down cake

  • Emmydee  on  October 27, 2018

    Smokey Hot Chocolate, yummy!!

  • shipwrecks  on  October 27, 2018

    Breakfast ramen because I'm curious

  • chasteph  on  October 27, 2018

    Indian shepherd's pie

  • Jenamarie  on  October 27, 2018

    Chicken miso Milanese with soba noodles

  • uk2nl  on  October 28, 2018

    The Ovaltine banana malt loaf

  • silversand  on  October 28, 2018

    Pan-fried salmon with lemongrass sambal and roasted broccoli

  • jim.windle  on  October 28, 2018

    Mushroom and artichoke lasagna

  • jenmatt  on  October 28, 2018

    Breakfast ramen

  • TanyaD  on  October 29, 2018

    Pear, Gorgonzola and walnut risotto

  • aalainya  on  October 29, 2018

    Did someone say crab and sriracha mac and cheese!? YES

  • JasM91  on  November 1, 2018

    Indian shepherds pie with saag aloo top for sure! Sounds delicious.

  • Plumbobmummy  on  November 3, 2018

    Pecan and cranberry dark chocolate pie

  • a1apple  on  November 6, 2018

    Pear, Gorgonzola and walnut risotto

  • stephanie12345789  on  November 8, 2018


  • Laura1  on  November 9, 2018

    Clementine and cardamom upside down cake

  • Lkitchings  on  November 9, 2018

    Devil's curry (page 49)

  • orchidlady01  on  November 10, 2018

    Pork potsticker dumplings

  • Sand9  on  November 10, 2018

    Chicken Curry Crispy Pancakes x

  • jamston  on  November 10, 2018

    Crab and Sriracha mac 'n' cheese

  • clairedavey  on  November 11, 2018


  • angiemac18  on  November 11, 2018

    Korean disco fries

  • lauracomp2017  on  November 11, 2018

    A BLT Italian style on Christmas morning sounds amazing thanks for the chance

  • Marie888  on  November 11, 2018

    apple cider crullers Yummy!

  • Radley  on  November 13, 2018

    Korean Disco Fries sounds funky

  • Uhmandanicole  on  November 20, 2018

    Aubergine and feta chilaquiles

  • lgroom  on  November 20, 2018

    Minced beef and horseradish pie.

  • English_Daisy  on  November 27, 2018

    Marmite and cheddar Welsh rarebit – I’m an UK ex pat living in the USA – and miss Marmite the most of all!!

  • amyz218  on  November 27, 2018

    Spice roasted monk fish

  • love2chow  on  November 27, 2018

    Caramelised shallot, honey and Roquefort cornbread

  • marsmomma  on  November 27, 2018

    I'd like to make Spanish beef mince and cauliflower cheese, it sounds like it might be low carb.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!