By Julie Wiessner
If you ever need a recipe, go to Martin Harper. You will most likely find him behind the Deli Counter at Safeway. He has collected 400,000 to 500,000 recipes from all over the world, and probably has one to fit your needs.
“I’ve always liked to cook; I began cooking for myself when I was 15, and either wrote down recipes I liked or photocopied them from the local library in Dunstable, England. I actually wanted to go to chef school, just haven’t had the money for it,” explained Martin.
“I think it’s nice to make something and people enjoy it. I like to cook real food; if you don’t walk away full and happy, then it’s not right–especially when people just throw a quail’s egg and a slice of asparagus on a plate and drizzle some sauce on it and charge you $70 for it. That’s not cooking to me, it’s art,” he ob-served.
Martin was born in Dunstable, where Gary Cooper attended grammar school between 1910 and 1913. No, Martin had not made his debut by then, but he did live there for 38 years before moving to America.
Hallie, Martin’s pen pal and soon to be wife, met for the first time in 2000. They had been writing since 1998 and slowly began e-mailing, then calling. They were married in Prescott Valley in 2001 and have been together ever since. Hallie is a park ranger at the Petrified Forest National Park.
When asked to name his favorite recipe, Martin responded, “The first thing I ever made for my wife. It was a sirloin steak with Stilton cheese and walnuts mixed together and melted on top of the steak, with a side of mashed potatoes and lots of butter.”
Martin has at least 600 cookbooks from all over the world, including Europe, England, Russia, South Africa, South America, Australia, Hungary and the Mediterranean, including Greece and Italy.
“If anybody wants any recipes, I will be glad to give them away,” he noted.
So why doesn’t he start a catering firm? “No money,” was his simple response, besides, “I would rather give them recipes and have them do it themselves.
By Julie Wiessner