This week we've had a moment to catch up with one of our favourite bloggers and culinary adventurers; Lizzie Mabbott from Hollow Legs. As we at the school are preparing for her hugely anticipated sold out supper club to launch of her first book; Chinatown Kitchen, AND her additional supper club launch on 16th April , we wanted to know more about what inspired her to take to the internet- capturing her travels, exploration of her cultural heritage via her kitchen experiments, and her discovery of some delicious hidden gems whilst eating her way around London and beyond.
SOW: What inspired you to start your own blog? How did you decide what to write about?
LM: I wanted to learn how to cook all the food I missed from the motherland, Hong Kong. I was trying out different recipes and amalgamating the ones I found, and I wanted a place to record all my findings. I had no set structure as to what to write about - the beginning of the blog was the beginning of my cooking education, so I felt that everything was worth recording. (Anyone who has had a blog for a number of years will tell you how cringe-inducing those first posts read, now!)
SOW: Since starting your blog; Hollow Legs, it's gained a lot of traction and popularity. Has this changed how you write or what you decide to share?
LM: I'd like to think it hasn't; I always wrote the blog as a hobby, something I like to do for myself rather than something I do for other people, which is why I also never allowed advertising. One thing I try to avoid doing is apologising for not posting more - we all have busy lives, and no one begrudges a little space in between posts. I am conscious of what may or may not be interesting to a reader. I probably wouldn't write about something like cheese on toast on those grounds.
SOW:How was writing your book; Chinatown Kitchen, different from writing for Hollow Legs? How was it similar?
LM: It was completely different. You can't just waffle on in a book; you need structure and discipline. I also had deadlines to meet. It was similar in as much as my publisher was keen to retain my tone of voice, so I was given a lot of freedom with writing it too.
SOW: You seem to dine out pretty frequently. Do you think the London food scene has changed since you started your blog?
LM: Absolutely; it used to be hard to find good London restaurants. A few years ago if you wanted a decent meal you would need to either do a fair bit of research, or pay quite a lot for it. It's now more democratic, more available for the masses, in both the surging trend of "no reservations", and casual, cheaper options. Londoners vote with their feet - if somewhere is crap, they simply won't go.
SOW: You also seem to prioritise traveling. Why is traveling important to you? What has been one of your most memorable experiences whilst traveling?
LM: Travelling is hugely important to me. Experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, and seeing the world is something I love deeply; I constantly have itchy feet. It's the adventure I love - you also discover things about yourself that you weren't aware of; what makes you uncomfortable and what you unexpectedly enjoy. Most recently, I climbed to the top of Mount Rinjani in Indonesia - it was the hardest thing I've ever, ever done. But even simpler things are so memorable, like a plump anchovy on top of a slice of bread in a back room bar in Seville, or eating fish and chips on a pier in Cornwall.
SOW: What is your middle of the week go-to dish?
LM: Noodles. Sometimes I work long hours, so all I can be bothered to do is cook some noodles, add some vegetables, maybe a fried egg and that's dinner in less than 20 minutes.
SOW: What chef dead or alive, real or fictional would you want most to cook with?
LM: I'm a huge fan of Fuschia Dunlop. Her book, Sichuan Cookery, is one I still use the most.
SOW: Last meal on earth?
I imagine my answer to this question would change every day, but today? Roast duck ho fun noodle soup. Preferably from Gold Mine, in Queensway. Washed down with a gin martini and a fistful of valium, since I'd be not long for this world...