Currently making waves in the culinary world, Jo Kenny aka Girl Eats World, is a UK-based food writer specialising in recipe development, food styling and content creation.
Her aim? “To inspire everyone to eat joyfully; a positive, happy relationship with food is at the heart of my cooking.”
After 10 years sharing her recipes and food inspiration on her blog, Girl Eats World, 2022 has seen the launch of Jo’s first cookbook, Cook It, Eat It, Live It: The Everyday Joy of Food. We couldn’t resist reaching out to chat with Jo all about her career, her passions and what the future holds, as well as gaining some brilliant foodie insights.
Tell us about yourself? Where does your passion for food come from and how did it evolve into a career?
I’m Jo and I’m a cook and food writer from Bedford. I created my website GirlEatsWorld.co.uk as a young twenty-something in 2012. I have always loved cooking and food experiences from a very young age and decided I needed a creative outlet for my passion. What started as a hobby has evolved into a professional venture and my website is a tasty hub for recipes and life at home. I am delighted to have recently taken my food career one step further with the release of my very first cookbook: Cook It, Eat It, Live It.
Tell us about the process of writing your book - what was the most joyous/surreal moment in the process?
It has been a dream of mine for many years and back in 2018 I set the intention to publish a book. I then spent the next three years researching, writing and refining my work and then of course began the search for a publisher. That was the biggest challenge as a debut author; and it took a lot of perseverance to find the right publisher to work with.
The most joyus (and absolutely surreal) moment was the day that my book arrived in the post. I recalled an evening eighteen months back when I was staring at my book on the screen, imagining how amazing it would be to hold it in my hands as a completed work. It was so lovely to realise what had been a dream for many years.
What are your absolute ‘go to’ recipes?When you want to eat well in everyday life, you need dishes that deliver big flavour with little effort. Life is busy after all! I often find myself circling back to my pea and smoked bacon spaghetti. It’s like a glorious green carbonara - perfect for Summer! Absolutely delicious and easy to make.
Another favourite in my household is homemade tacos with corn tortillas, Mexican spiced chicken thighs, apple and ginger slaw and a delicious spicy coriander sauce. Tacos fit every mood.
Favourite place(s) to eat?
I just love hearty, rich food, and Tom Kerridge is my favourite celebrity chef. And so The Hand and Flowers in Marlow is one of my favourite restaurants. I have been twice and each meal was unforgettable. I must find an excuse to go back soon!
Favourite ingredient(s) to cook with?
Lemon zest for adding fresh dimension to almost any dish. Worcestershire sauce for adding rich tang. Orzo for its versatility and ability to soak up flavour. Smoked garlic for giving me childhood nostalgia.
Who in the food world inspires you?
I really admire the journey that Lindsay of Pinch of Yum has taken. From teacher and hobby blogger to owner of a huge online food empire. It is of course incredibly inspiring to see what she and her partner have achieved.
What are your earliest kitchen memories?
I’m very young and standing on a chair, making a wish and stirring the huge pot of dried fruits and spices for mum’s homemade Christmas puddings. My mum is a wonderful cook and I have so many lovely childhood memories tied to food.
Ideal dinner party menu?
One pot wonders are ideal for entertaining. The host should afterall be able to join in the fun rather than be confined to a mountain of cooking!
I adore my slow cooked lamb shoulder with orzo. Page 101 of my cookbook - I have it memorised! It produces meltingly tender lamb and sweet orzo infused with vegetables, cumin, herbs and of course those lovely lamb juices. It cooks in one pot for minimal fuss and looks absolutely spectacular when served on a platter and brought to the table.
‘Go to’ canape options
I stand by this: everyone loves a sausage. You cannot go wrong with cocktail sausages coated in a delicious sticky honey mustard glaze. No matter what event I have been to it’s always the glazed sausages that go! Naturally they made an appearance on our wedding canapes too.
Top tips for entertaining guests?
I really love family style dining. That is, bringing food to the table on platters and in dishes and pots for everyone to help themselves. It feels friendly and relaxed, and I love to see a visual feast before everyone in the centre of the table. This way also allows everyone to choose what their plate looks like: for example meat lovers can help themselves to extra cuts, sauce lovers can have a heavy pour, and veggie lovers can pile their greens high. I love the interaction of people serving each other too. Like I say, it’s such a friendly way to serve food and sparks conversation.
What podcasts or tunes are you listening to at the moment?
My favourite cooking music is anything by Khruangbin. They’re perfect for relaxed sessions in the kitchen. Especially when the sun is shining. Music to get you into a rhythm!
What are you reading at the moment?
I am a complete Tolkien nerd, and I’ve just started The Fall of Gondolin.
When you are not cooking/working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I chuckle as I write this… but eating! My favourite way to begin a weekend is to spend the morning having a relaxed breakfast at a local cafe. There are some wonderful spots in Bedford; The Longholme is an al fresco cafe overlooking the river and sitting there on a Saturday morning with a coffee is heaven. Follow it up with a long walk: even better.
What current Hudson Home products are on your kitchen ‘lust have’ list?
I love items that are both beautiful and functional, and there are so many Hudson Home products like this. The brass salt and pepper mills are stunning statement pieces, I feel they would be lovely conversation starters at any dinner table.
The dough bowls are also beautiful pieces that can be adapted for different food uses. Perfect for displaying fruit, or serving hunks of rustic bread at the table.
I always think a little foliage at the dinner table goes a long way to make it feel more luxurious. Even better when styled in a vessel with organic lines and texture. The confit pot is a great size for displaying flowers, branches and bunches of leafy stems.
What can’t you live without (completely non work related!) fun rather than serious!
Oh, blankets. Glorious blankets! I am a woman of comfort and I will bury myself under a blanket in every room of the house no matter the time of year. I have one on my lap as I write this!
What’s next for you?
For business: I am halfway through writing my second cookbook. I am bursting to share the recipes! As for pleasure, after three years of staying in the UK, I’m jetting to Corfu this summer. It has been many years since I had a relaxing holiday and it will be incredible to immerse myself in beautiful Greek food and sip red wine as the sun sets over the ocean.
Her Book: Buy Cook It, Eat It, Live It