In a world that is increasingly overwhelmed with recipes—online and in print—British food writer and cookbook author Rosie Birkett has carved out a voice which is distinctive—and delectable. “It’s an amalgam of all the things I’ve experienced in my life,” she muses, when we visit her at home in Kent, to discover her tips for hosting in the fall. “It’s my childhood in a rural area, and that connection with seasonality and ingredients. My mum is a fantastic cook, and my dad was a voracious eater, who took great delight in seasonal changes. He took me foraging for mushrooms and wild garlic, and would get so excited. It was infectious,” she enthuses. 

Indeed, today Rosie is well-versed in creating dishes that express her sense of seasonality and, just as importantly, conviviality. Though she began her career as a magazine journalist, it wasn’t long before she specialized in the food scene, interviewing chefs and writing features for UK hospitality publication The Caterer before going freelance and eventually—via a cooking course—graduating into styling and recipe writing. “I wanted to be a food stylist that celebrated the natural beauty of food over trickery. The most important thing is flavor, of course, but there are ways of enhancing the natural beauty of ingredients,” she explains. That is where Rosie’s love of—and taste for—good dinnerware comes in, essential for hosting during any season, but especially in fall when the ingredients become naturally less vibrant.

A tabletop set with patterned tableware, candles and sharing dishes.
A tortoiseshell cocktail set in front of a patterned vase

A slow-braised beef shin can only look so appealing, for example. Serve it in a beautiful bowl with a few well-chosen table decorations, however, and there’s a sense of ceremony to the rich, comforting brownness; not ceremony in the sense of stiffness and formality, she continues, but “texture, thoughtfulness and intrigue.” Rosie is not a formal cook. Her recipes are built for feasting, sharing, and lingering over the rest of the bottle as the candles flicker into the remains of the evening—the perfect building blocks for a fall dinner party. After more than a decade working in food, she knows the connecting thread throughout her work is “the love of food and its unifying, creative, nourishing nature,” and she is at her happiest when that is the focus of her writing. 

“The recipes I post [on Substack, a newsletter platform that lets writers publish directly to their audiences] are the dishes I made last night,” she says. These, in turn will have been inspired by the ingredients of that moment—and when it comes to fall recipes, there is no shortage of inspiration. “There’s a depth of flavor to autumnal produce,” she reflects. Where summer is about “salads, grilling and showy ingredients, autumn is more about food that is gorgeous and glorious and rich in color—but which takes a bit more cooking. I’m thinking about squashes that have spent summer swelling and maturing in flavor, mushrooms, bitter leaves, beautiful brassicas and celeriac,” she laughs, “which is not the most beautiful, but is so delicious.” 

Rosie Birkett wearing a red dress and smiling to someone off camera, lighting a candle on a table set with patterned dinnerware.

What with moving from London to Kent, renovating a house, and having her daughter, now two years old, Rosie’s life has changed dramatically in recent years, and her approach to hosting has changed accordingly. Her make-ahead fall dinner party menu is suitably laid-back and hearty, prepared in advance to take the pressure off cooking and entertaining. Think squash, kale and halloumi stroganoff, heaped high on buttered noodles; chestnut mushrooms pickled with tarragon; and whipped ricotta served with fried, salted sage and crispy bread. 

“It’s about something manageable and delicious, that takes the stress out and allows me to enjoy it,” Rosie says of her fall dinner party menu. “Something I’ve cooked ahead, like a slow braise, which I can keep warm in the pan. I like to have bread on the table when guests arrive, with butter that I’ve whipped up with sea salt, and labneh too, if I’ve had time. It’s about those little homemade touches—not going crazy,” she continues. It’s a home not a restaurant—and she’s not averse to a good store-bought dessert. 

When it comes to her tips for hosting in fall, her advice is equally laid back. “Resist the temptation to overcomplicate things,” she says. “Lean into the beautiful bounty of fall with a seasonal menu and a few simple table decorations that nod to the time of year—I like gourds, crab apples and pretty twigs—and pay attention to the people. I am so thankful for those connections.” Sharing seasonal joys in person, as well as a growing digital community, is the real treat. 

Dig in to Rosie’s world by following her on Substack