MasterChef champion is face of new social concept

2019 MasterChef champion, Irini Tzortzoglou has become the face and brand ambassador of a new social concept, Foodie Book Club.

Founded by Lee Majhen-Todd, owner of Lee & The Sweet Life, Foodie Book Club brings together the traditional book club with cooking and community focus, aiming to encourage people to cook for fun and experiment with tastes and flavours as well as providing a much-needed support structure in the form of a network of groups.

Irini, whose new book ‘Under the Olive Tree: Recipes from my Greek Kitchen’ launches later this month, is to represent the Foodie Book Club, sharing her recipes and expertise and offering the opportunity to win a copy of her book to members of groups which are as far apart as North Yorkshire, Dublin and Malta.

Irini said: “I love this concept, bringing together reading and cooking but also encouraging greater communication and a creative flair, something I think is really important given what our nation and indeed the world has been going through in recent months.

“I’m delighted to be part of this and can’t wait to see what the members of different Foodie Book Club groups come up with as their monthly pot luck dishes!”

Foodie Book Club works by Lee Majhen-Todd assigning a book each month via the website which has a type of food in the title. Groups read the book, create a dish inspired by the title and then meet on the last Monday of the month or week of to enjoy their dishes and discuss the book. They are meeting via Zoom or other virtual system at present of course.

Lee Majhen-Todd explained: “The books are really varied; I want to cater for all manner of tastes but also challenge some people to explore outside of the genres they usually stick to. We’re selecting new authors, established ones, some people may never have heard of, we may even throw in a few children’s books, too – really celebrating the joy of reading and cooking.

“It makes for great conversation and brings in the traditional element of people gathering to feast together, a real social and community event that builds relationships and strengthens them.”

What’s more, the Foodie Book Club is being championed by a number of outstanding chefs and authors, too.

July’s book is the highly acclaimed ‘Mistress of Spices’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, who is supporting by providing content for the website which will be accompanied by food writer Dina Begum’s ‘spice’ recipe from her Brick Lane Cook Book.

Others include author Jenny Linford, previous MasterChef champion Jane Devonshire and chefs Oliver Certain, Tony Parkin, Tony Rodd, Mark Reid, Kenny Atkinson, Hywel Griffiths, Michelin-starred Hrishikesh Desai – a Roux scholar with a string of awards under his belt and Samira Effa, the latter two of whom competed in the Great British Menu 2020.

Foodie Book Club is entirely free to be part of and groups can get started by registering at leeandthesweetlife.com/foodie-book-club. Group organisers are sent branded bookmarks for their members and there is a wealth of support for the groups including a private Facebook group, the community Facebook and Twitter pages and also a Twitter hour, #FoodieBookClubHour which runs every Wednesday, 6 – 7pm GMT and is sponsored by independent businesses each week, offering an exclusive 10 per cent discount to participants.