Thanks to Oxfordshire-based chef Alex Mackay, I have discovered a superb new cookery book that ticks all the boxes. His previous book, Cooking in Provence, was a winner at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards — his latest book, Everybody Everyday (Bloomsbury £20), seems destined for similar awards.

Alex was born in New Zealand, but has spent most of his working life in Europe, having bought himself a one-way ticket to France once he finished his apprenticeship. In France he worked in two Michelin-starred restaurants in Burgundy before successfully obtaining a position in Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. Raymond was so delighted with Alex’s kitchen skills that he promoted him to sous chef after just six months. At the age of 23 he then went on to Bermuda, before returning to Le Manoir, at Raymond’s request, to help him with the cookery school and other exciting projects.

Next he ran his own cookery school, Le Baou d’infer in Provence, for five years. This became so popular that after the first year he was fully booked at all times. Many chefs in his shoes would have considered that school the pinnacle of success and stopped there. But Alex is no ordinary chef; he wants to experience all that the world of food offers.

Since returning to Oxfordshire, he has been spending his days experimenting with new recipes, writing articles for Sainsbury’s Magazine and the Saturday Telegraph and teaching alongside Delia Smith at Norwich City Football Club. He has also been having great fun making cookery videos in his home kitchen and introducing his young sons, Jake and James, to the joys of cooking. Alex says he gains as much from the experience as they do. He knows that if you get children interested in cooking and eating at a young age, you will be giving them a gift for life, which is one of the reasons why he is also a patron to The Kid’s Cookery School, London.

Well, that’s a very brief summary of this very talented chef’s background. Now let’s talk about his remarkable book, written to inspire us all, even knowledgeable cooks who are open to new ideas.

One of the things that sets Everybody Everyday apart from other cookbooks is that its 126 recipes revolve around cooking just six basic ingredients: chicken breasts, salmon fillets, aubergine, pork chops, pasta, pilaf/risotto and burgers, then six sauces and six slow-cooked meals.

Those who question the place of a burger in this list should remember that a home-made burger is really a tasty, juicy cheap steak, if cooked correctly. Alex gets his burger mince from a butchers, rather than the supermarket and has come up with six imaginative ways of cooking them.

Throughout his instructions, he addresses questions frequently asked by home cooks who want to know things like: “Why does my chicken go dry? How do I vary my meals? Do I need to rest all meats after cooking and, if so, why?”

Alex also reminds his readers to have ingredients and equipment ready before they start cooking. “Little acts, such as placing the colander in the sink ready to drain the cooked vegetables, can make all the difference,” he explained.

Among the many delightful things about this book are the photographs, taken by his friend Peter Knab who shoots them the moment Alex has brought the finished dish from the oven. This means they pulsate with life, so that you want to pluck them from the page and eat them straightaway. The photographs don’t rely on fancy props as Alex wants the food to speak for itself and tempt his readers to create them.

But it is not just the look of the dish that matters. Alex considers flavour the most important thing of all.

‘It was Raymond Blanc who taught me the importance of flavour and how to taste as you cook. Taste and taste and taste, again adding a little more seasoning at all stages if needed — that’s Raymond’s motto,” said Alex, who is also obsessed by seasoning. “But Raymond also taught me to know when to stop — something all cooks have to learn. The tip of your tongue should tell you when it’s time to step back.”

He went on to say that Delia Smith taught him to test the recipe, not just once, but several times, which is what he has done before committing his recipes to print. The result is an inspirational book which will ensure that family meals are never dull.