Meet Skye McAlpine: the Poetically-Versed Venetian Cookbook Author

Hidden in a quiet untouched corner of Venice, perched right on the edge of a canal, is the quaint home of food writer and cookbook author Skye McAlpine. This is where Skye grew up and where she draws inspiration for her poetically-narrated, yet simple-by-design, recipes in her new book, A Table in VeniceAs you turn the pages of this gorgeous tribute to Skye’s home surroundings, it’s immediate that she’s not just passionate about food and the magic that ensues when friends gather to eat, but also the importance of words and photography to bring dishes on paper to life.

This rising social influencer has foodie pics and prose regularly published in Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Town and Countryand Food 52, and, might we just add that even the ‘about’ section of Skye’s website captures our inner romantic. Skye popped by the Khoollect Studio to share some rustic Venetian recipes from her new book and make us jealous with stories about dreamy Venice.

Where do you currently call home?

I live between Venice, which is my home and where I grew up, and London where my husband works.

What do you love about these two cities?

They’re such different cities and ways of life, and I feel very lucky to have the contrast. Venice is wonderfully dreamy and there is nowhere else quite like it; but I love the bustle of London too – the theatre, the trendy restaurants, the shows and there are so many people doing exciting things.

Your recipes are often tied to situations in your life and are very personal to you. How do you decide what to share with your followers and what to keep private?

I feel very lucky that I’ve always found the online community to be incredibly warm and welcoming, so I treat my blog and my Instagram account as if I were talking to a friend. Food for me is such a personal thing, so I can’t really imagine sharing recipes without the more personal stories behind them.

What inspires you?

I find Venice a very inspiring city. Quite often I will go for a walk early in the mornings and there’s something about the beautiful buildings, watching the pink sunrise over the water, the sound of church bells ringing in the background and the sweet scent of freshly baking pastries that floods out of the bakeries first thing, that puts me in a wonderful mood for the rest of the day.

You grew up in a household with parents who liked to entertain large groups of people, and now you often do the same; what are your top three tips for cooking for big parties?

1. Keep the menu simple – Don’t bother with starters, they interrupt the flow of the meal…instead, I like to serve olives, cheese and cured meats for everyone to nibble on over drinks.

2. Cook food that doesn’t spoil easily – If your guests are running late (which likely someone will be), then it doesn’t matter. Roasts are wonderful because once they’re cooked they can sit and rest for a long time, and dishes like shepherd’s pie or creamy baked pasta can be put in the oven and largely forgotten about.

3. Prepare ahead  Make food ahead of time so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming on the day of the party: do your shopping one day, make the pudding the next, and then cook the main meal on the day of the party.

What’s your secret ingredient or top tip in the kitchen?

I love cooking with saffron – I add it to sweet and savoury dishes alike. It gives a wonderful deep flavour and magical colour to everything from risotto to zabaione. You’ll find a lot of recipes with saffron in my book.

We first discovered you through your beautiful kitchen, and we’re particularly envious of your gorgeous open shelves. If you were to redo your kitchen with an unlimited budget, how would you design it?

I love our Lacanche cooker, but I would really love one with a bigger oven. I would have two large farmhouse sinks and two fridges with plenty of space to store food and wine, and in a dream world, I would love a marble table just for making pasta.

We are itching to buy a plane ticket. Inspire us with your most incredible holiday memory?

Last summer we spent a couple of weeks in a small town just south of Rome called Sabaudia. We stayed at a friend’s villa right on the beach and every morning woke up to the sound of the waves. In the evenings we would walk along the sand to a little trattoria right on the beach, watch the sunset over the sea and feast on the most glorious spaghetti alle vongole, then walk back to the house after dinner, barefoot and gelato in hand. It was heaven.

I khoollect a few…

I love cookbooks and have far too many. I also collect old crockery – beautiful old plates, cups and saucers that I come across in antique markets and secondhand shops.

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

I love my copper pots and pans – I’ve collected them for years. A lot of them are antiques that I’ve had restored – they’re a couple of hundred years old but still work perfectly.

Favourite corner of the Internet?

I read the blog A Cup of Jo religiously – Joanna has wonderful taste and she posts such a brilliant and varied selection of stories on her blog: anything and everything from tips on how to make the best chocolate ice cream (she has an amazing no-churn recipe) to thoughtful discussions about politics, life, death and motherhood.

Follow Skye on Instagram and Facebook.

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Try making Skye’s delicious recipes for: apple, honey and walnut cakecourgette pizzette; or chocolate and amaretti custard.

Read Skye’s tips for exploring her hometown, Venice.

Win a copy of Skye’s new cookbook A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home.