Iwan Kriens, The Wizard of the Kitchen

Without a doubt, if Iwan Kriens (1871-1957) had lived in our century, he would have been actively involved with cookery shows on television. He would have been a member of the jury in Master Chef or may be even have had his own programme. For Iwan Kriens was knowledgeable, charismatic, amiable, and not afraid to give his opinion or to speak his mind.

The famous chef grew up in the Netherlands. Around 1900 he settled in London where he became  headmaster of the very first government-funded cookery school for professionals in England, the London County Council Cookery Technical School of the Westminster Technical Institute, the current-day Westminster Kingsway College. Under his leadership, the school grew into a successful vocational training centre where generations of chefs learned the trade. And still do so. Westminster Kingsway College is one of the most prestigious culinary and hospitality schools in the world.

Apart from being an excellent teacher, Iwan was a prominent member of the Universal Food and Cookery Association, passionately campaigning for the importance of good and healthy food. During the First World War, when food was scarce and sometimes priceless, he provided cookery demonstrations and wrote a highly praised cookery book, together with well-known journalist Dorothy Peel. In The Victory Cookery Book he explained how to prepare a tasty and nutritious meal with scarce products and alternative foods, confirming his nickname ‘The wizard of the kitchen’. A number of these recipes, such as oatmeal sausages, mulligatawni soup, potato scones and a frugal Christmas Pudding, are included in this book.

Dutch author Trudy van der Wees unravels the fascinating life story of this unknown Dutchman, who became a pioneer in British culinary education and helped to change the professional and social cookery culture in Britain.

The Wizard of the Kitchen. How a Dutch Chef Became a Pioneer in British Culinary Education can be ordered online via www.thegreatbritishbookshop.co.uk


Iwan Kriens

Iwan Kriens give instructions in the kitchen of the cookery school at Westminster Technical Institute, London.


Original title: De kookschool van oom Iwan, first published in the Netherlands in 2018, by De Muze, Leiden.  Verkrijgbaar via bol.com


Indie books we love

‘The Wizard of the Kitchen’ can be found in the selection Indie Books We Love on www.lovereading.co.uk