Tuesday I headed to the Royal Festival Hall in London for the Love Cooking Festival. There was a great lineup of celebrity chefs, I had a front row seat, and I was ready to be inspired.
The Festival was structured so that each hour long demonstration was interspersed with an hour or hour and a half break, with book signings and things in between. It was seriously cool to watch the demonstrations at such close quarters. Although the Royal Festival Hall theatre is quite big, the way it is designed makes it fairly intimate and I was so close I ended up with an aching neck from looking up at the stage!
Presenters included Ainsley Harriott, Gino D’Acampo, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, Rick Stein, Oz Clark, Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix. All the demonstrations were excellent, and I learned so much.
Richard Corrigan of Corrigans Mayfair highlighting the wonderful vegetables available this time of year and saying, “A great meal doesn’t have to involve meat”. Yay!! Finally a mainstream restauranteur from a top notch restaurant acknowledging that vegetables can and should take centre stage!
Learning how to cook grouse - although I am unlikely to eat it, knowing how to cook a game bird is a handy skill to have here in England.
Gino D’Acampo’s demonstration of how to make homemade pasta which convinced me that it is something I might actually be able to do. His recipe was so straight forward - for every 100 grams of flour, you need one egg and a bit (looked like just short of a tablespoon to me) of olive oil. That’s it. He then effortlessly forked it all together and kneaded it, put it in the fridge for half an hour and ran it through the pasta machine to make mezza luna pasta. I only just restrained myself from buying a pasta machine during the break.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Spade! Fork! Spoon! presentation, using seasonal, ethical, local meat and produce.
Ainsley Harriott’s fantastic Soul Food demonstration, using many of his late mother’s recipes, interspersed with his memories of her. He made five wonderful tropical recipes, including a hot fruit dessert with coconut rum. Oh, and there was a bit of singing too...
Rick Stein’s demonstration not only of how to cook seafood, but how to prepare it as well. Although I’m unlikely to buy a whole squid, at least if I am confronted with one I do know how to prepare it - and I think I might actually be able to skin a fish fillet now too!
My only complaint was that, despite many of us being on ‘day tickets’ which included all the demonstrations, the organisers structured all the warm ups and advertisements for each demonstration as a single entity. After seeing the advertising tape for the fifth time before the last show, the apple expert and the prawn expert twice each, I was more than a little bored and could have recited the sponsor list by myself. The actual demonstrations made up for it though.
It was an excellent day out, and I’m looking forward to using my new skills in the kitchen. Now I just have to buy me a pasta machine...