Hawksmoor co-founders/owners and best friends since age 11, Huw Gott and Will Beckett, have a follow-up to their 2011 bestseller, Hawksmoor at Home, and it’s not necessarily what you might expect. Just like the first book, there are recipes galore, for sure, but it’s much more than that. Hawksmoor: Restaurants & Recipes delves further into their journey, warts and all, from the early years, when Huw and Will met, their “chaotic, haphazard and downright amateur” approach to business, the opening of their debut restaurant in Spitalfields, to the seven-restaurant empire it is today (soon to be eight, as they venture across the pond to New York), via chapters on Meat, Seafood, Feasts, Vegetables & Sides, Puddings, Breakfast & Brunch, Bar Snacks, and Cocktails.

Hawksmoor: Restaurants & Recipes is a book you could curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and read for pleasure. An unputdownable tome of witty prose, teaming helpful how-tos (e.g. ‘dispatching’ a lobster humanely), and mouthwatering recipes, with references to the likes of Justin Bieber, 5ive and Del Boy to illustrate a point, not to mention The Sopranos’ tips on hospitality. It’s a fun, not too try hard approach that makes it all the more readable, with a glimpse behind-the-scenes in the day to day of the business, through the eyes and words of the various staff and suppliers who have been a part of Hawksmoor along the way.

In between recipes for some of Hawksmoor’s popular menu items, there are anecdotes in abundance: the time they took a recce to the McDonald’s headquarters in Illinois to see what they could learn from one of the busiest restaurants in the world; that night they had a blackout, another, a flood. Or when they received a ‘Cease and Desist’ from the manufacturer of Ferrero Rocher. How they’ve dealt with tricky customers and worked hard to create a dedicated taskforce that consistently pleases all others.

There are some recipes I know for sure I am unlikely to make, not because they don’t sound absolutely delicious, but because they seem like a lot of faff (and that’s from someone who considers a whole weekend spent cooking, a dreamy prospect). With those, I’d rather get my glad rags on and hop on the tube to eat them at the restaurant. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading about them though; this is one book that’s a pleasure purely to paw over. That said, I will give the triple cooked chips a go, and they take three days and multiple stages. Even if it’s just the once, to see whether it really makes that much difference.

Hawksmoor: Restaurants & Recipes has also inspired me to get some bone marrow from the butcher to make the gravy, and a couple of the other recipes it features in – though, perhaps not the crème brulee… – because it’s a cheap cut, tasty, and apparently pretty good for you (I found that out after Googling on my way home from trying it at Hawksmoor for the first time, because, frankly, it feels like guaranteed heart attack food while you’re eating it). Once I find out where to buy Graceburn cheese – ‘a marinated Persian-style feta’ – I’ll be attempting the seven-year steak sandwich, so-called as it took that long to perfect the recipe. There’s an ox cheek cottage pie, I know will be melt-in-the-mouth divine, and a curious-sounding Beef Bread – any variant on a cinnamon bun and I’m there. The macaroni cheese too – being Hawksmoor, this is not just any old mac and cheese, it contains five different cheeses and panko breadcrumbs. I have high hopes for their ‘epic crackling’, as mine always fails, and the Somerset Sticky Toffee Pudding, intrigued by the optional topping of Stilton.

In addition to the restaurants, there’s the standalone Spitalfields Bar. An international award-winning East London establishment the bar snacks and cocktails from which, contribute to the final two chapters. Included is a fascinating timeline on the history of the martini, brilliantly illustrated and with various recipes dating from 1806 to 2016, and a list of Anti-Fogmatics: ‘refreshing eye-openers for any time of the day’, Pre-Prandials, Post-Prandials, Bridging Drinks (‘for light afternoon drinking’), and so on. As a fan of the Old Fashioned, their ‘Full Fat’ version, complete with the instructions to make the Harry Potter-esque, homemade buttered bourbon that goes in it, sounds equal parts sacrilege and superb.

 A delightfully entertaining read, one that’ll have you smiling and salivating in equal measures, reaching for the phone to make a reservation, and quite possibly perusing their recruitment page for openings. The icing on the top is knowing that all royalties received by Will and Huw will be donated to Action Against Hunger, a cause they’ve supported since the beginning, raising over £1m to date. I’ve had the joy of meeting quite a few new and brilliant cookbooks of late, but this, for its originality, entertainment factor and promise of deliciousness, is hands down my favourite.

Hawksmoor: Restaurants & Recipes by Huw Gott and Will Beckett is available to buy online here.