Thacker's book is that very rare thing, a cookery book of the English 18th century that has his own recipes throughout: nothing seems to have been plagiarized or borrowed from other writers. It is also the only book of its kind to have come out of an English religious community. The Dean of Durham had a lavish grant for entertaining, and his generous hospitality meant that Thacker had to cook for all levels of society, from canons of the Cathedral with sophisticated tastes such as the gourmand Dr Jacques Sterne, to tradesmen, poor widows and those of even more modest status. Thacker's book keeps many pre-Reformation recipes and thus shows the gradual transition in the Cathedral's eating habits. He also ran a cookery school in Durham. Food historian Ivan Day examines the recipes, and his researches reveal the remarkable tradition of ecclesiastical hospitality that survived at Durham for more than 800 years.