University can be daunting enough without having to learn how to cook. But thankfully, there’s plenty of help out there.
Introducing SORTED, a group of young friends, sharing their great passion for food with the world through the internet. With over four million YouTube views, they’ve swiftly developed a great collection of recipe videos and even two recipe books (and maybe a third on the way) to help those lacking in confidence in the kitchen.
Ben Ebbrell, SORTED’s chef took the time to talk Wessex Scene Lifestyle.
This interview is an extended verion of the one that was featured in the Wessex Scene Magazine.
WS: Hi Ben! So, straight to it: What are the basic meals that you think every student should know how to create?
B: Not so much a meal… but soup! Start basic and once you know how to make one soup you know how to make loads! It’s cheap, healthy, and quick and can even be taken in a flask for lunch. Why not check out our interactive soup video for some ideas.
Risottos are also good staples. They are versatile and you can throw whatever ingredients you have in the fridge into them once you have learnt the basic method. Great filling food and one pot cooking so you will be saving on the washing up too!
WS: What are the key ingredients every student must have in their homes?
B: I’d say not so much key ingredients, but key groups of foods. I’d have to say bread, milk and eggs as they are staples that mean you can always at least throw together a quick snack. Tinned foods like tomatoes, beans, chickpeas and tinned fish will keep forever and make for cheap meals when you’ve not pre-planned anything. Pasta, rice and couscous are the obvious student choice and so much can be conjured up with them. A small spice rack is good and livens up any dishes so you can create food from around the world. And finally a bag of frozen peas, a last minute addition to pasta dishes, risottos or special fried rice not to mention a fresh and healthy vegetable side. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list then check out our video at: www.sortedfood.com/page/cupboardbasics
WS: How can students maintain a healthy and balanced diet? It’s always been harder for students to eat well; prices are high and often we run out of time to spend ages over the hob.
B: Team up! If you cook with mates and rotate then it makes things cheaper. It is very difficult to cook a meal for 1 person with £2. But cooking for 4 people on an £8 budget is easy! And share the jobs too… one day you shop, the next you cook, the third you wash up and on the fourth day you sit back and let the others take their their turn. Keep swapping round and then this cooking lark isn’t too difficult after all!
WS: Do you think your recipes encourage students to eat healthily? Is this a main concern at all when coming up with ideas?
B: It’s all about eating a balanced diet. Completely fat-free or low carb diets aren’t the answer to being healthy. Instead make sure you get a good balance of everything, especially working in a variety of fresh fruit and veg into what you eat. Just make sure you enjoy it though and the odd cheeky dessert or sweet treat is absolutely fine… if you’re anything like me your sweet tooth needs to be satisfied.
WS: If there was one piece of kitchen equipment a student should invest in, what should it be?
B: A good chopping board and kitchen knife. Then look after both, because you’ll use these in almost everything you cook.
WS: Could you tell us more about Sorted in general? How and why did you get started?
B: The SORTED crew is simply based around our friends… we’ve known each other for what seems like forever. We grew up together and although all went to separate universities to study a whole range of degrees we’ve always stayed in touch and food and SORTED has been the glue for that.
The whole story kicked off a few years back – sat around a pub table, sharing recipes on beer mats. Myself, as a trained chef, was shocked by what my closest friends were eating. So I would share the perfect student grub that was anything other than takeaways and pot noodles. As a photographer at the time, Barry saw an opportunity to create and publish a cookbook crammed full of my recipes and his creative work that would be perfect for students. We put together a student cookbook (doing all the work ourselves) and then set out to share these recipes and the idea of social cooking with friends. That’s where the videos started, a chance to promote the book. And YouTube became the perfect platform to share new recipes with a larger audience. Now, our online channels are our focus and week after week we get the recipe requests and food dilemmas of our audience SORTED. Delivering quick, simple and tasty dishes, heavily seasoned with banter.
WS: How do you come up with your recipe ideas?
B: Having worked in dozens of restaurants, hotels and in private dining establishments I’ve picked up stacks of ideas. All of which can be given a little SORTED twist to make them perfect for our cookbooks and recipe videos. Inspiration comes from everywhere: menus in restaurants, market stalls, shops, from your travels or talking to friends. It’s about combining these to create the best dishes for SORTED.
WS: What are the main tips you’d offer any students who struggle with their confidence in the kitchen?
B: What’s the worst that could happen? So a meal doesn’t quite go to plan… then you’ve learnt for next time right? Just experiment and if you’re really unsure then why not give it a go it with friend. Make it a joint effort.
WS: Which recipes on your website or in your cookbook do you think readers should check out first?
B: They are all as good as each other! But seriously, some of the one-pot cooking dishes that can be cooked in bulk to feed all your flatmates makes for a great night in.
WS: Do you have any tips for anybody wishing to go further into the culinary world?
B: Go for it! There are so many opportunities in the food industry beyond that of a chef. You’ve got to have a passion for food obviously, but it doesn’t all have to be about high-end food. At SORTED we love the sharing and teaching part. It’s not Michelin-star cooking or even anywhere close – it’s much more about social cooking. You have to follow your dream, so if you want to, do it!
WS: Has your great success come as a surprise? Did you expect to become so popular or did you simply see it as a hobby?
B: It certainly started as a hobby, well not even that… just sharing great grub with mates. Now it absorbs pretty much all of our time, and yet never feels like a job! It’s grown much faster than we’d imagined, but that’s awesome because now it feels like we have friends scattered across the world and that we can all cook together. The beauty is that everybody can relate to food and it becomes a fantastic catalyst to conversation and meeting new people. We are able to invite others to come and cook in the SORTED kitchen, bringing their talent to share with us or we can go to them.
WS: What are your plans for Sorted in the future?
B : We hope SORTED will become the hub for the quick, simple food. Brought to the platforms where the online generation are already spending their time. First to be entertained and then inspired to give it a go! We publish brand new video recipes every week as we aim to get as many people into the kitchen to get SORTED!
The facts…Sorted! :
4 Million + YouTube views
55,000+ YouTube subscribers
100+ Recipe videos
3,000+ Twitter followers
2 recipe books
10,000+ books sold.
Find the SORTED cookbook range at http://www.sortedfood.com/page/books
Read more, and find all recipes including step-by-step videos at http://www.sortedfood.com , or on YouTube.