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Keep it Simple

by Alastair Little and Richard Whittington


This is the late Alastair Little's masterwork, it's name a quotation from Escoffier. Organized by season, the book captures the spirit of Modern British cooking, which Alastair Little pioneered in the 80s and 90s at his eponymous restaurant in Soho, and presents recipes which avoid fuss and complication, but deliver great results.

from the publisher

Alistair Little (British chef, author, and TV personality) puts together 100 effortless recipes that can be used in any kitchen. Alternatives to hard-to-find-ingredients and prepping advice for stress-free cooking make the recipes perfect for anybody, whether they’re beginners or masters in the kitchen.

Most popular

Original Publisher
Conran Octopus
Date of publication

Recommended by

Dan Lepard

Baker and food writer

During the mid-1980s in London the chef Alastair Little, the original university-graduate cook in England, changed the way restaurant menus looked. Before him in the UK, food was heavily cooked and sauced, year-round comfort food with barely a fresh vegetable in sight. He combined Italian cooking with Japanese techniques, introduced the concept of organic ingredients outside of health-food shops to chefs, and bravely broke away from the seasonal menu into a daily-changing one inspired by whatever he could find at nearby Berwick Street Market in London’s Soho. A decade late his book, Keep it Simple (1993) was published and quickly became a bestseller, a handbook for small restaurants, and the new-trend of gastro pubs in Britain.

Andy Lynes

Freelance journalist and author

The modern British cookery bible. Over 20 years old but looks like it could have been written yesterday. The photography and design still look great and the recipes have stood the test of time. It was such an eye opener for me when I first read it. I'd never heard of pizza bianca, pizza without tomatoes before, or hasselback potatoes?! The recipes are organised seasonally and reflect Little's interest in Italian, Japanese, Chinese and French cookery. There are too many favourites to list but they include daube of beef and panettone bread and butter pudding. The store cupboard and batterie du cuisine recommendations are extremely useful and the whole thing is done with an entertaining dry wit.

Christopher Archambault


An old faithful full of love and great recipes. Add superb photography and stunning illustrations to secure its position. Hailing from 1997, Alastair’s food was being called ‘modern British’ and yet bears no resemblance to the molecular jazz or cookie cut out Michelin presentations we witness today. An interesting footnote into how labelling and pigeonholing creates confusion. Just eat!

Maureen Mills

Director, Network London PR

So many of my friends rate this book as the staple on their culinary bookshelf. Alastair understands that not everyone is a culinary genius in the kitchen, and each recipe is straightforward and works. Plus it is full of creative and delicious dishes – a modern classic.

Julie Friend

Chef, food writer and Masterchef winner

Part of my prize for winning MasterChef was an Alistair Little cookery course in Orvieto. One of the best weeks I have ever had, full of simple classic Italian cooking, lots of laughs and in a dreamy setting.

Valentine Warner

Author and chef

LEGEND! A brilliant chef who has has played an integral role in British food and where we are today. everyone should own it!

Graham Garrett

Chef and owner of The West House

Incredible food from a very clever chef. It always looks as modern and relevant as the day it came out.

Alistair Cameron

Coordinator for England of the Slow Food Chef Alliance and Ark of Taste

Intelligent, seasonal and fun. Simplicity doesn't go out of fashion.

Tim Hunt


Sheila Dillon

Food journalist

Jeremy Lee

Executive Chef Patron, Quo Vadis, Soho

Russell Norman

Restaurateur, writer, broadcaster

Andrew Peters

Proprietor Green Park Brasserie, Bath Function Rooms, Green Park Express

Tom Conran


Tim Maddams

Chef and food writer

Jon Croft

Cookbook publisher

Theo Randall

Chef/Patron of Theo Randall at the InterContinental

Nick Lander

Food writer and restaurant consultant

Fiona Cairns


Lucas Hollweg

Food writer

Thane Prince

Author and writer