Tuesday, 22 June 2010

BBC Summer Good Food Show

As the shuttle bus whisked us through labyrinth of roads and warehouses that is the NEC, I was a little uncomfortable. Aside from my buddy sitting beside me, there seemed to be at least 40 years between me and the next youngest passenger. I was, however, relieved of my fears upon arrival; it seemed that most of the passengers had been attracted to Gardeners World Live (and/or Alan Titchmarsh) rather than the Good Food show to which we were headed.

I had rather hoped the BBC Summer Good Food Show would live up to the of 'Good' part of its illustrious title, as the most basic 'general admission' ticket was none too cheap at £19. Plus a £1.50 booking fee. To cut a long story short, it was good. To cut a short story long....

The MasterChef Experience Kitchen

Once we'd actually found the Good Food Show part (no mean feat, as it turned out) we were instantly drawn to the MasterChef Experience. Here was a kitchen where any member of the public could participate and create a dish from a box of mystery ingredients, in a limited amount of time. I couldn't help but admire the people who were brave enough to stand and cook in front of the blood thirsty crowd. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to. After a few minutes of cooking, the three finalists of this years MasterChef series came into the kitchen, and after being interviewed by the amusing host Andi Peters, mentored the competitors and gave them advice. Once time was up the finalists, Dhruv Baker, Alex Rushmer and Tim Kinnaird, chose 3 dishes from the 18 (approx) competitors. Their dishes were then given a rinsing by none other than MasterChef judges Greg Wallace and John Torode.

Afterwards I was able to meet Dhruv, Alex and Tim and have a brief chat with them. It was rewarding and encouraging to discover how down-to-earth and genuine they were. It was also amusing/embarrassing to have Alex have to remind me to take the lens cap off my camera before taking his picture – I'd just told him I was a photography student and complimented the work of his girlfriend! Oops.

From there my pal and I browsed through the endless different stalls which contained anything and everything from pans to paninis, cocktails to curry sauces, and more. Getting free samples was always good. Carte D'Or had two stalls giving away samples of four different flavoured ice creams. The Rum and Raisin seemed to contain more rum than ice cream, but the Crema Di Mascarpone was exceedingly delicious. It has to be said though, that the mouth-wateringly delicious looking Madagascan Vanilla and Chocolate cheesecake was quite disappointing. If you were wondering, yes, I did visit their stalls more than once - apologies to Carte D'Or if I am responsible for single handedly forcing you into administration.

John & Greg dig in

The next attraction was the Summer Kitchen, where visitors were entertained by the MasterChef Cook Off. This entailed two winners of previous MasterChef series' (in this case James Nathan and Matt Follas) cooking head to head: they had all of 30 minutes to create a stunning dish to wow the judges. It was amazing to see what they created in the amount of time it takes me to slice a garlic clove. This was, of course, presented by John & Greg who were full of energy and jokes, and were happy to share a few tips and 'behind the scenes' stories from MasterChef. I was impressed with how self depreciating they were, and how ready they were to give each other a ribbing.

All in all, it was a good day. I say day, but to be honest it was less than that – we arrived at midday and by four thirty we'd pretty much seen it all. There were other attractions, such as the Miele cookalongs, the MasterChef restaurant, and Tasting Beers Live, but these were all at additional costs. Not so accessible when you've spent over fifty quid just to get there and get in! But don't let that make you think it wasn't worth it, because it was. I found it to be a very enjoyable experience, and came home with good memories, some Good Food Magazines... and a MasterChef mug.

Roll on next year?

Tips from the Good Food Show (courtesy of John Torode and Greg Wallace!):

  • If you want your tomatoes to taste good, don't put 'em in the fridge. Leave them in the sunlight, on a windowsill.

  • “If you turn fish over the fisherman fall out of the boat” - when frying fish don't turn it over until it's properly cooked on the side in contact with the pan.

  • If you have freshly caught fish, leave them for a day or so in order to avoid the rigor mortis. If you cook them straight away the fish will be tough.

MasterChef finalists Dhruv, Tim, and Alex:


P.S All photographs by me. No thieving without permission please!
P.P.S Expect a stupidly simple recipe in the next few days...

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