At the Speciality and Fine Food Fair I was tasked with hosting and compering Fine Food Live, the cookery theatre, for the whole three days. The showcase every day is a cook off – a ready steady cook – a chef up against me. They give me pots of ingredients from around the show and we have to make as any dishes as you can in 30 minutes. I like to champion the small producer, the wow products. Some people don’t get the accolades they deserve.
Here are some of my top picks of the producers.
These are superb as a snack. It’s a lentil paste put through a machine like churros then fried and coated with spices. It is something his mum and family made. They started producing them in their house. Now they have three different flavours: fiery ghost naga chilli; coriander; and classic. It’s the ultimate posh bar snack or crisp.
These are flavoured fruit and herb vinegars. They are just absolutely beautiful and Great Taste 3 Star Award Winners. The flavours include any fruit you can think of: strawberry and mint; orange and mace; golden raspberry and Apache chilli … A lot of chefs are using them.
I am also a fan of Willy’s Apple Cider Vinegar. This is great as a vinegar but almost better with hot water as a drink. They make a flavoured popcorn with it. I’m really into the combination of sweet and salty. I took some home and at first my family sniffed at it. But when I came back they had munched the whole lot.
During our cook offs, we made crocodile bites: like Scotch eggs but with crocodile and quails’ eggs. We served them with beetroot ketchup from The Foraging Fox. This is an Essex lady who has a beetroot farm and makes different ketchups using beetroot. .
Tanya Maher runs Tanyas Cafe in Knightsbridge. She was doing raw food – amazing. She did a raw cheese cake that was superb – really clever and innovative, keeping away from sugars and refined products. For the base she used dates as a sweetener and lots of nuts to give texture .