The Modern Preserver | Interview with author Kylee Newton
Coming from a Fine Art background working with renowned photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, Kylee Newton not only has a hands-on approach, but her eyes are always open to aesthetically pleasing work.
This is the secret to her recipe. The New Zealend-born young entrepreneur has applied these traits to her preserve business Newton&Pott to fast acclaim. Immensely personable, Newton’s business is vibrant and constantly evolving to greater heights. With a philosophy of ‘waste not, want not’ her preserves of chutneys and jams find a point of difference in their imaginative recipes coming from seasonal produce. Newton’s modern approach to the traditional British art of preserving is a breath of fresh air, her new language of this respected trade finding resonance with a younger generation and still not excluding the past. Now she releases a book of her recipes titled The Modern Preserver together with Random House. Full of personal tips and insight, it makes one want to finally use the kitchen and create some simple and effective dishes.
On the eve of her book launch at the Town Hall Hotel in London, Newton tells us more about The Modern Preserver and the philosophy and production behind her sought-after preserves.
You started preserving jams and chutneys only a few years ago, and your business has seen a positive approach allow it grow quickly. A boom in a sense! Can you tell us more about how you began?
I was working for photographer and artist Wolfgang Tillmans, his personal printer, and when he decided to relocate to Berlin I wanted to start something that appeased my love of food, my hate of waste and that was still creative. Not the most natural of transformations but some what interesting.
Where does your background (in nationality and education) lie?
I’m from a small town in New Zealand, New Plymouth- a fisherman’s daughter. It was here my mother encouraged me into the arts (there’s a fantastic Gallery there called The Govett Brewster) and as soon as I finished high school I left home and went to Auckland to study what I could in this creative field at the Elam School of Fine Art, earning myself a degree in Fine Art.
How did you meet your publisher? What was the process for creating the book like?
Square Peg contacted me. I was very excited to receive the email as I had been plodding along making preserves not knowing if anyone was understanding how important it is to preserve the season. It’s a great way to conserve natures glut- and in the word of the old “waste not, want not”.
Creating the book was a longer process than I thought it would be, and much harder. The Modern Preserver has over 130 recipes so it’s taken over a year and a half to complete. But it was an exciting process and now I have a beautiful finished project that I can share with the world.
Where can we find The Modern Preserver?
Square Peg is a division of Penguin Random House, so the distribution will be everywhere in English speaking countries and available for sale online. It will also be published in the U.S in June/July 2016 under publishers The Countryman Press.
Please tell us more about the graphic design for your book. Was it important to steer the design to a modern direction, whilst still keeping the ‘cookbook’ identity?
This was incredibly important so my husband designed the book. I didn’t want another designing it as I knew I would always be asking his opinion so fundamentally he was always going to be apart of this aspect.
We wanted it to look modern, as preserving has a very ‘old quant country’ air associated with it. It had to be accessible to everyone, to the contemporary person. I make my preserves in a urban flat in the heart of Hackney, London- this should create the message that you don’t have to have the idillic cottage farm to adopt preserving into your lifestyle.
What kind of language does the book contain? Is it universal? We do believe that chutneys are most celebrated and understood by the Brits..
It’s all about seasons and following them to use up fruits and vegetables readily available- so in this sense it’s incredibly universal.
There are a few exotic fruits that pop up and interesting flavour combinations but I encourage readers to be creative and experimental to adapt to their own palates and taste.
There are recipes from around the world such as a Polish and Japanese pickles through to soft set jams seen in France and fermentations that have been celebrated in many cultures for hundreds of thousands of years.
Chutney is an Anglo-Indian preserve but it’s almost the same as a relish which is more widely recognised in the western world.
You work with seasonal produce, sourced locally. Can you tell us more?
My jams are what are predominately seasonal and locally sourced- when making jam it’s best to use the fresher fruits as these are higher in pectin which is the natural product that makes a jam set. At Newton&Pott and in The Modern Preserver I stress the importance of following the seasons- this is the main concept of preserving- getting longevity into your food and making it last.
As I also like to used exotic fruits in my preserves these come from around the world, I mostly use Tamarillos and Feijoas which get imported in from Columbia, I have a Columbian fruit dealer.
Any secrets or tips you can share with readers or preservers?
Preserving is a science all about bacteria and sterilisation- don’t be sacred of it but it’s important to clean, rinse and sterilised everything well for a longer lasting preserve.
All my tips and secrets are in The Modern Preserver but I always encourage imagination and creatively.
All Photos | Hung Quach ©
The Modern Preserver will be available in bookstores UK-wide from September 20th 2015, available for sale online. Readers in the U.S will see a June/July 2016 release.