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Inverness MasterChef finalist Sarah Rankin to launch new cookbook

Kinross chef Sarah Rankin has been busy since appearing on MasterChef in 2022. Image: Shine TV/BBC
Kinross chef Sarah Rankin has been busy since appearing on MasterChef in 2022. Image: Shine TV/BBC

After reaching finals week on MasterChef in May 2022, it’s been full steam ahead for Inverness-born chef Sarah Rankin.

The marketing specialist had to bow out of the BBC One show just before the end, but her cooking has continued.

Sarah now has a monthly column in The Press and Journal and The Courier’s Menu magazine, talks all things food with Stephen Jardine on BBC Radio Scotland every Friday, hosts supper clubs and runs her marketing agency.

The mum of two also has another project on the go – her own cookbook – which she exclusively revealed.

What were your 2022 highlights?

Getting to the finals week of MasterChef was one, that was one key thing. After that it’s all been a bit crazy actually. I’ve had lots of great opportunities and I feel so privileged.

Sarah made it to finals week on MasterChef 2022. Image: BBC One/Plank PR

I’ve secured a publishing deal, so I’m writing a cookbook which is proving more challenging than I first thought. But I’m absolutely buzzing to get going, it’s making me think about new recipes and be more creative, which is great.

I’ve had a slot on Radio Scotland in the run up to Christmas and I’m hoping that’s going to continue into this year. It’s a lovely opportunity to chat about food, how to budget and plan, tips and tricks to make your life a little bit easier. That sort of thing I really enjoy.

Has your life changed much after MasterChef?

I wouldn’t say it’s hugely different. Certainly the things I’m doing are different, but I still run my marketing agency and still have two children to look after, but I’m managing to have lots more fun experiences.

Like three weeks ago, I was in London at MasterChef winner Eddie Scott’s wedding. It was lovely to see a lot of my MasterChef chums again and we had a fabulous time.

There’s been lots of fun things that have happened as a result of it, and lots of personal things as well, in the fact that it definitely made me a more confident cook. So many people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe you did MasterChef, I couldn’t do any of that’.

I couldn’t do any of those things at one point either. There is no great mystery, you can teach yourself how to do this and it’s really fun.

It’s made me braver. When you take a risk like that, you realise that nothing’s ever as frightening as you think it’s going to be. And ultimately, it’s more rewarding.

What about your supper clubs, how have they been going?

They’ve been great. I run the supper clubs to a subscriber list, so I send out monthly newsletters with recipes, food chat and release my supper club dates.

For Sarah’s supper clubs, 12 people come to her house for five or six delicious courses. Image: Sarah Rankin

It’s 12 tickets – a random selection of people who don’t necessarily know each other – they come to my home and they get a five or six-course tasting menu depending on what’s in season. I tend to not plan the menu too much in advance because it’s based on what I can get, it’s all about freshness.

It’s incredibly hard work, but it’s so much fun and it’s lovely to welcome people to your home and feed them. Everyone’s got on really well and met new friends, which is a really lovely part of it.

What dishes have you made?

I do little snacks to start with, two or three tasty little morsels which aren’t on the menu.

I do a little venison tartar with a horseradish cream, and that’s just on a little cracker. Or a cheese and ham croqueta with gherkin ketchup.

One of Sarah’s recipes, stuffed and deep fried courgette flowers. Image: Sarah Rankin

Then I’ve had salsify – which is a root vegetable that isn’t found very often – that I wrap in filo pastry and deep fry, served with a lemon hollandaise.

I’ve got a brilliant fruit and veg supplier locally who manages to get me some of these heritage ingredients. The more I can show people foods you can’t get in a supermarket, it will encourage them to seek it out.

Supermarkets very much drive our taste, because we can only eat what they stock. So, if we become a bit more knowledgeable about seasonal foods, perhaps we can create a key change where supermarkets will be buying in more of that.

Are there any food trends you think will be big in 2023?

I don’t know, I’m not one for trends. I’m very much about local, seasonal produce.

The best way to eat, that has limits to damaging the environment, is to eat locally and seasonally. I feel like that about game as well, game meat is the most sustainable type of meat.

An advocate for local produce, Sarah enjoys foraging for chanterelles. Image: Sarah Rankin

If you’ve got someone who shoots, a good farm shop or a good butcher, you’ll be able to get game. There’s also very few animal welfare issues with game, and it’s a pretty sustainable product.

What plans do you have for 2023?

More supper clubs. I do one a month from my home in Kinross, which is exciting. I’ve got loads of support in Inverness too, so I’ve got a couple of venues on the back burner up there. I’m hoping to do a couple clubs early on there as well.

Sarah usually isn’t one for measuring her ingredients when cooking. Image: Shine TV/BBC

And working on the book, which I find it quite difficult. I’m very much a intuitive cook – I don’t really use recipes – but now I have to make recipes that people can recreate.

I need to now cook everything again with scales, a jug and a notebook, writing everything down and it’s a lot harder than the cooking I normally do. But it’s teaching me loads as well, so I’m getting better.

I’ll be doing more chef demos at food festivals in summer, which is always great fun. They’re a great opportunity to meet like-minded foodies and find out what they’re cooking, so it’s inspiring to go to these events.

Sarah Rankin in a regular columnist in The Courier and Press and Journal’s Menu magazine. Her column is published once a month and features a delicious recipe.