Memories of Dragonfire Chilli

December Challenge No.2: Childhood Recipes

This month, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Ambassadors from around the world are casting their minds back to their childhoods and sharing distant food memories.

I recently dug out a real treasure from my childhood which is certainly worth sharing. The idea for this challenge came to me a couple of weeks ago as I took my children into the Games Workshop for the very first time.

Back when I was at primary school some, ahem, 25 years ago, my classmates and I were all asked to pen letters to famous figures and heroes to ask for recipes. The plan was to create a little cookery book for the school which would raise money for charity. I do believe the Queen, the Pope and Father Christmas among others, all received such letters.

Being a huge fan of Fighting Fantasy novels (my wooden desk was stuffed full of them), I chose to write to Ian Livingstone. How exactly we managed to acquire his address is still a mystery to me.

Much to my amazement and the jealousy of my peers, Mr Livingstone took the time out of his busy schedule and actually made the effort to write back to me. Thanks to my mother and her keen mind for recalling exactly where she squirrels things away for safekeeping, I still have that very letter. I remember how special it made me feel to receive it, and believe it or not, exactly how satisfying it tasted knowing its fabulously fantastical provenance.

Dragonfire Chilli

To be honest, it didn’t really matter how good or bad the recipe was, that wasn’t the point. It was the inspiration it forged, and the realisation that anything is possible which really stuck with me. Food certainly has an inherent way of connecting people.

Today, nearly 26 years later, I’ve recreated this dish once more, exactly as the recipe for ‘Dragonfire Chilli’ states. Ok, so I may have chosen to cook it for a touch longer and embellished it with some sour cream, fresh chilli and parsley, but other than that it’s legit.


To clarify, the recipe is as follows.


  • 650g minced Steak
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 can Tomatoes
  • 3/4 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 4 tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 large squirt of Tomato Puree
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 dash of Worcester Sauce
  • 1 can of Kidney Beans
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


“Right, chop up the onion and garlic and fry them in oil until light brown. Sling in the mince and stir it around until it has changed colour at least! Add the chilli powder and cumin, then salt and pepper, then the tomato puree, tomatoes, worcester sauce and finally the beans. Stir it all around until a nice goo is simmering. Half an hour later, hey presto!”

Dragonfire Chilli con Carne

Not bad Mr Livingstone. (I had two helpings just to be sure).

He went on to bigger and certainly greater things. Testament to his sterling attitude, he was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). I’d say he thoroughly deserves it.


Ian Livingstone, what a legend.


Look out for more memories across social media using #foodrevloves and perhaps share your own!

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