Like so many others, Brooklyn Beckham started really cooking in the early stages of quarantine.
No, he wasn’t just trying his hand at the Top Viral Food Trends of 2020; There was no whipping of Dalgona coffee, nor frying hundreds of mini pancakes for that sick and twisted pancake cereal craze. Beckham was following recipes and chefs he searched online, cooking up new cuisines every evening for his fiancée Nicola Peltz, who would film Beckham’s latest creations for his followers.
Unlike so many others, however, two years into the pandemic and Beckham’s sourdough starter is alive and bubbling — not neglected in the back of his fridge. Still on a quest to becoming a top tier cook, Beckham has enlisted the help of notable chefs he’s admired for ages, including Nobu Matsuhisa, Nancy Silverton and Chef Roy Choi on his new 8-part series Cookin’ With Brooklyn.
Cookin' With Brooklyn — now live on Watch Together via Messenger or on Instagram — follows Beckham as he learns foundational skills and specific dishes from hand-picked food experts and re-creates the meal on his own for family and friends, like Romeo Beckham, 24kGldn, Sebastian Yatra, Dr. Woo and LilHuddy.
Below, Beckham speaks with PAPER about his earliest memories in the kitchen, what he’s looking to master and his dream dinner party guests.
When did you start getting into cooking? Has it always been a passion of yours?
I’ve always been into trying new foods and different cultures of foods. I really enjoy talking to all types of chefs — different backgrounds and types of chefs, so I’ve really always been into traveling and trying different types of cuisines.
Then quarantine hit and that’s kind of when I really started getting into it. Every day I would open up a bottle of wine and try a new recipe. So the very beginning of quarantine is really when I started to fall in love with it and that’s when my fiancée Nicola started videoing me and I started posting it and people seemed to really like it.
Do you have any favorite recipe sites or chefs that you frequently consult?
In this series, Cookin' With Brooklyn — It’s available via Messenger and Instagram — basically this is my journey to becoming a great chef and hopefully, one day, owning my own pub and throughout this journey I meet with such amazing chefs, like Nobu, like chef Ludo from Petit Trois, Roy Choi and Nancy Silverton. So this series does have some of my favorite chefs and I’m so honored that I was able to learn from them.
I’m so excited the first one is coming out today — it’s cooking with my little brother and my fiancée’s little brother which is really fun.
What's the most surprising, or helpful thing you've learned from your lessons with the chefs?
When I met with Chef Ludo, and actually Roy Choi said the exact same thing, [which is interesting because] they’re totally different chefs, totally different types of cuisines, and Ludo told me it’s the most important to get the best ingredients and to not go too crazy, like, always choose the simple way. It’s all about the techniques.
So those are the three things that he taught me, which are: ingredients — which is the most important thing — you have to try and source the best ingredients, which that will also put your cuisine and your dish at the next level; Staying simple with it — obviously if you’re cooking for other people, depends who you’re cooking with, like if it’s friends and family you can go a bit crazy, but if you want to learn, it’s the simple basic techniques that you have to learn and you have to master. I was speaking to Ludo and I was asking when did he master the French omelette, which he taught me and you’ll see in one of the episodes, and he said it’s all about the technique. So that really stuck with me, too.
What are some of your earliest memories in the kitchen?
I’ve always been into trying different types of food. Growing up in England, you have a bunch of English food like fish and chips, pie and mash and I went go to the pubs and I couldn’t drink because I was a bit too young and I always loved going into the kitchens and seeing how — you know, my favorite dish is bangers and mash, which is sausages, mash and onion gravy, and I was always really fascinated with going into the pub kitchens, to my local pubs, and talking to the chef and learning how to cook, so actually one of my first memories was learning how to make proper sausage.
I went to the pub to eat different kinds of English cuisines basically every day. We have Sunday roast every Sunday, and it was kind of a thing that I wanted to learn how to cook myself because it is my favorite dish and I thought since it’s my favorite I should learn how to cook it. I’d always start cooking it at home and then, of course — I haven’t mastered it I don’t think I’ll ever master it, but I think since having a fiancée and moving to the US, I found this pub called the Cat and Fiddle and in one of my episodes I make bangers and mash with the head chef and my fiancée has 6 brothers and they’re all born and raised in New York and I always love learning English cuisines because I love cooking it for my fiancées's brothers and all my American friends.
First, it was something I wanted to learn just for myself, and now obviously I’m very into cooking and I just enjoy making people happy, especially people that I love — I cook it all the time for them.
What's something that you're looking to master? Can be a cuisine, or something more concrete and technical.
I’m really into knives. I really want to come out with a knife line at some point one day: all sourcing’s sustainable — sustainable steel, sustainable wood, that’s really important to me, and I think I really would love to master knife skills and I really want to master proper Italian cuisine — fresh pasta and fresh sauces.
What's the worst thing you've ever cooked — your biggest kitchen failure?
Probably baking. I’m not much of a baker. I’ve always loved making desserts and cakes, but there was this one time that I was making banana bread for my fiancées's grandma, her name is Nanny, and I basically — it was like my first time — and I had the recipe on my computer and I remember making it, and we have a tiny cottage in the countryside with a little wood burner and I read and did all the steps correctly, I mean I must’ve not done it correctly, but it was supposed to be in the oven for 30 minutes and 30 minutes went by and it wasn’t cooked all the way through. You know how when you cook banana it kind of looks like raw dough? So I thought it was raw. It looked like it wasn’t cooking, but it was also overcooking on the outside. Still tasted good, still had all the ingredients, I just must’ve not done it wrong.
What's the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
When I went to this restaurant in Tokyo called Jiro, which is a three Michelin star sushi restaurant, which I was really honored that I went to — it’s so cool that I even got in. It’s in the train station. There’s this one fish that I tried that was almost Octopus taste and texture, but it wasn’t. It was interesting. Like I said before, I really love trying different types of foods, even if I don’t really like it I’m honored to try different cuisines from different chefs.
Do you have a favorite food city? Or, I suppose this could tie into favorite type of cuisine?
I’ve always said my favorite food, that I think is the best, I mean I love English food I grew up on it, but I also am obsessed with sushi. I’ve always said sushi is one of the only types of cuisine that I could eat every day three times a day for the rest of my life. I’ve never not wanted sushi.
What's your favorite thing you make on the show?
One of the last episodes I learn how to make sushi, actually, with Nobu, which is absolutely amazing. My fiancée is really good friends with him, my family is really good friends with him. Ive known him for quite some time now. When I was 10, that was actually the first time he taught me how to make sushi. So the last episode is me learning how to make sushi with Nobu and then I make it for my friend later that day. We make hamachi with crispy rice and then we make tuna with sushi rice. That was one of my favorites.
Do you have any food hot takes? Things that you like, but are really unpopular — or something you don't understand the hype around?
I absolutely love fries and a milkshake. My favorite thing is to go to Wendy’s and get a big cup of chips and dip them in the Vanilla Frosty. I’ve heard that some people like it, but when I tell people that that’s one of my favorite things to have they’re like “What! That’s so strange.”
What would be your dream dinner party — guests, cuisine, theme, location and all?
I love cooking for people that I’m really close with, so I think I’d keep it really small with my family and Nicola’s family. I would probably do sushi cuisine — different types of sushi: crispy rice and spicy tuna — and it’d probably be based in Iceland. I went to Iceland once in my life and I loved it. The reason why I say Iceland is because the salmon there and since I'm choosing sushi I would love to fresh catch some salmon and serve it to mine and Nicola’s families.
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Beckham
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