By Andrew Humphries
If you’ll pardon the pun, acclaimed chef and cookbook author Gabriel Gaté had the audience eating out of his hand at North Ringwood Uniting Church yesterday.
The occasion was the launch of the fifth edition of one of Australia’s most enduring guides to cooking, the PWMU Cookbook.
Since the first edition in 1904, the cookbook has become a must-have item in kitchens all around the country, with about 500,000 copies sold.
For over 40 years, its production has been tasked to a committee made up of members from the Presbyterian and Uniting churches, with money raised from sales supporting worthwhile mission projects around the world.
The latest edition features more than 150 recipes for everything from chilli prawn pasta to moussaka and a Mexican hot pot.
Gabriel says he was delighted to be asked to launch the book’s fifth edition and, during an engaging 20-minute speech, he reflected on its success and the concept of food as a means of bringing people together.
“There is a saying that art and culture bring people together and politics separates them,” Gabriel says.
“I think food really has the ability to bring people together and foster a sense of community among the simple act of sharing.”
Gabriel says The PWMU Cookbook is the perfect resource for experienced cooks, as well as newcomers to the culinary arts.
“The variety of recipes really makes it a fantastic cookbook,” he says.
PWMU Cookbook committee secretary Pam Grant says the fact the book continues to change with the times is part of its ongoing success.
“This cookbook began in 1904 when women wanted to provide funds for people in the mission field and I just love the fact that all these years later it is still making a difference in people’s lives,” she says.
“People are helped through the projects it funds while it helps young people, and cooks, to engage with food.
“Now, 117 years after it began, it is still telling the story of people’s love of food.”
The PWMU Cookbook costs just $25 and can be ordered here