Spotlight

Questions at the table with Skye McAlpine

To toast the launch of her recipe journal we sat down with cook Skye McAlpine for a gastronomical Q&A. With text and video courses.

Words

Papier

Photos

Emma Croman

Video

Annie Kruntcheva

Ever since she started her Venice-based food blog, From My Dining Table, with its mouth-watering mix of pasta and palazzos, we’ve been hungry to cook up a collection with Skye McAlpine. Having written two cookbooks that are full of dishes inspired by her childhood in Italy and focus on the joy of sharing a table with loved ones, she was the perfetto paper person for a Papier collection featuring menus, place cards and our fresh, new recipe journal.

Skye invited us round to her London home to eat pasta, reminisce about food memories and divulge favourite recipes. (And there’s a whole separate menu of questions in the video below.)


When did you first fall in love with cooking?
I’ve always loved eating (it’s impossible to grow up in Italy and not!) but I first fell in love with cooking when I was at university and for the first time had my own (very basic) kitchen to play in. I spent my days day-dreaming and planning supper with friends when I should really have been studying.

Can you remember what the first recipes were that you cooked?
I can’t remember the very first thing I ever cooked but the first thing I cooked that really meant something was tiramisu for Anthony, now my husband. We were both at university together and we had met in freshers’ week. He had invited me to a house party, so I thought I should bring something. I made tiramisu, whisking the eggs by hand over the sink in my bedroom and turned up at the party with this big tray of dessert – everyone else came with a six-pack of beer!

PLEASE CHANGE ME

What type of recipes do you fill your recipe journal with?
The best recipes are the ones that come from friends and family, that are handed down and passed on. So my recipe journal is filled with those but I’ve also scribbled in notes and ideas, adaptations of recipes that I love but want to perfect, recipes that are a work-in-progress.

I use the recipe journal as my own deeply personal cookbook as it were, but also as a way of collecting happy culinary memories. I’m excited to flick through its pages in ten or twenty years’ time and remember what I was cooking and who I ate it with.

Why do you love to cook for others?
I love to make people happy (especially people I love) and people always seem so happy when you feed them something homemade (I know I am). I think cooking is a wonderful way to express love for someone.

I also love bringing people together. There’s something about sitting around the kitchen table over a lazy, long meal that brings out the best conversation and memories and feelings.

What’s your all time favourite dish to cook?
I definitely have different dishes for different moods but I do love baking a cake or making a pudding. I have a very sweet tooth so I enjoy tasting a bit of this and a bit of that as it comes together. I also think that there is something very celebratory about a cake. It’s definitely something that you make with the intention of sharing it with others.

The Quickfire stationery Q&A
Your most treasured piece of stationery?
My notebook. I would be lost without it.

Complete this sentence: ‘Stationery is…’
a lovely little luxury.

Old journals and notebooks: keep or recycle?
I'm a hoarder so I keep everything.

Notebook covers: always get the same or mix it up?
I like to mix it up.

Are you a doodler or a neat notetaker?
Definitely doodler.

Lined, plain or dotted notebooks?
I like plain because I mix in doodles and sketches as well as text.

Pen or pencil?
There’s nothing quite like a really good pen.

Plans in your diary or reflections in your journal?
Can I say both?!

List ticking or creative thinking?
I love a good list.

Do you send notecards and letters?
I love sending thank you notes, though they tend to pile up on my desk and I only get round to posting them long after I should.