9.20pm sitting in cologne airport with a large coffee and praline chocolate egg waiting for my easy jet flight back to Gatwick, which is delayed by 30 minutes at the moment. I have now been awake for 18 hours and still have an hour flight and an hour cab ride home. So long day but been a very good one.

ITCA is a yearly event in Europe they also have others in America and Asia. It’s a networking and showcase of in-flight services and products as well as other services such as rail and seas crossings. So as Gate Gourmet which is part of Gate Group, the largest supplier of in flight catering globally, had a stand there and I was asked to go along and help showcase the culinary skills of Gate Group.

As ever we had a very large presence and a very busy stand. We had chefs from Zurich, London and Frankfurt as well as chefs from both Spain and Holland making appearances. We had a varied menu which changed daily including everything from local German cured meats and breads, to British oysters and smoked salmon. Quite strange to leave London and arrive in Germany only to have more British products to cook with than German! Even the desserts came from our good friends ‘Lasting Impressions’ that are based 10 minutes up the road from my kitchen in Heathrow.

It was quite a wake up call to start my very first day shucking 50 oysters and wrapping them in bacon. My hands were red raw by the start of the show and i knew there was even more oysters arriving early the very next morning! (so made sure I was busy with the canapés when they arrived ha ha).

After all morning in the kitchen I was thankful for Monty’s Bakehouse’s stall that was next to ours and their selection of posh hot wraps and warm sticky toffee puddings. They have by far the best selection of ideas and innovations in regards to hot re-heat products i’ve seen. Take a look at their site I think these guys will be big:



It was’nt all work and no play…I got to visit a few of my good friends and suppliers at the show. I can be seen in the pictures with Tracy from En Route one of our bread suppliers. They do a fabulous job of sourcing me a varied selection of the best breads in the U.K and close continent. One of the best olive oils around is Monte Vibiano. They have a fabulous range and their extra virgin olive oil that is kept at a temperature below freezing and unfiltered is stunning. I especially love these guys as they have the best red wine to taste on their stand nothing; to do with them just very good drink!



Chocolate is another passion of mine so seeing Valrhona there and knowing we are looking to have them as our chocolate show case on some of our airlines meant I could sample some of the best chocolate around. On the subject of chocolate a German company “Gut Springenheide” has made my Easter. They have given me a selection of painted eggs with chocolate praline and milk chocolate inside. They basically take fresh eggs and laser cut the top off or a hole in the bottom, then they remove the content and then clean and sterilize the shells. They then fill them with whatever you require from scrambled egg, crème brulee, chocolate mousse, or just chocolate. Then all you do is eat them like a soft boiled egg out of the shell or with the chocolate praline ones you crack and peel like a hard boiled egg. It’s a bit gimmicky but it will be perfect for my daughters Easter egg hunt, Although she is nearly two and it will be hard for her to not eat the shell!

Of course it’s not all food they have some great equipment and products from premium wash bag items to funky new crockery concepts. Even new lines in kiddie meals and snack boxes designed to keep them entertained. So if you’re thinking of joining the in-flight service industry or starting an associated business, ITCA it’s a good place to visit. You can also take a look at the mercury awards which is the in-flight industry’s Oscars to see the movers and shakers of 2010.

Looking forward to my bed now as it’s nice to go away and work but nothing beats home.

Happy Cooking


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