BBC good food show winter 2013

December 1st 2013 marked my first visit to the BBC good food show winter at the NEC in Birmingham, offering a day full of food and drink and a chance to meet some great people with similar passions for the edible delights our world has to offer.  There were plenty of celebrity chefs rolling around the halls to grab a quick chat with some real giants of the food entertainment industry, and it was quite surreal to meet some of my own media influences.

Me and Cyrus Todiwala CBE

We purchased the tickets fairly early at a charge of around £25 each with a ticket to the super theatre show with the Hairy bikers, two of my favourite TV chefs (also quite easily a two of the nation’s nicest people, as I found out). We got their early enough to park relatively easily and made our way down to the main NEC halls, accompanied by a growing hoard of other tired looking hungry people. We entered the hall at around 9:30 on the button, this being fairly early for a Sunday morning everybody’s heavy looking eyes and drooped shoulders in the queue were absolutely justified. The perfect tonic however was the smell of the supreme sausage stall cooking their wild boar and apple sausages, The smell crept around the peripheries of the show, right by the exit, for the entirety of the day making it possibly my favourite place to stand throughout the day.

Before we had chance to start trying any food we had to dash to the super theatre to catch our early morning appointment with Si and Dave, the Hair bikers. I initially thought it would be a lot more intimate and was a little concerned with how back our seats were, but I have to say it was set up perfectly. Having the monitors behind them so you didn’t miss a trick was great and the sound work was great meaning you could hear it all happening, it really was worth the ticket price just to see them work their magic with the crowd and the food. They really are more than just talented cooks, they are natural entertainers and made everybody laugh while really getting people involved in their show, it really was an enjoyable experience.


After around 40 minutes, the show finished and we were released upon the rest of the show to view the stalls and start getting some decent food in for our late breakfast, so naturally we made a break for the supreme sausage stall again. Upon browsing the range they have to offer it was apparent we had come across something special, but I will go into this in more detail later. I had a million and one ideas that I could use the sausages for (check out the recipe in the prior post for a good one), and we really weren’t disappointed with what we tried. We ended up buying two packs the wild boar and apple with a pack of the venison, pork and mushroom sausages and at £10 for the 3 I can’t complain at all.

The W.H.Smith stand provided an opportunity to buy and get your books signed by some of the celebrity chefs in attendance, but their strict ‘one book to one person’ rule was a bit harsh but I do understand why it was in place as the queues got a little bit hectic.



The show was huge and to go through everything we saw would be a rather mammoth read so I will give you my top 5 stall highlights from the show and then fill in any details afterwards if I miss something, so to get us started we have:

5: I am not known to be a drinker but towards the end of the show we uncovered a stall doing a variety of flavoured alcohol, there was a few flavoured vodka’s and a really refreshing limoncello which I enjoyed quite a lot. The star of their range was raspberry vodka, which I must say tasted amazing, but dangerously not like alcohol! A definite winner though and I would recommend them to anybody, unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the company and I cannot find them on the exhibitor list so I will update this if I find out who they are.

4:  Coopers gourmet sausage rolls. I can pretty much sum these up in 2 words really, yes and please. These babies are probably among my favourite sausage rolls that I have ever had, the mixes they came up with looked great but between me and my girlfriend we had pork and leek and I had black pudding and pork. They were really tasty and to back up the size they packed some really big flavour, we bought a couple to take home and heat up for our dinner. It was a really hearty end to our day back home. Good stuff coopers!

3: Napton water buffalo. When you find yourself feeling hungry at a food festival or food show, there’s either something wrong or you’re not trying hard enough! We spent so long walking around taking everything in and going to book signings that we neglected to really fill up that much, luckily for us Napton’s caught our eye. Fresh water buffalo burgers, made with their own animals reared on their farm. The meat was cooked to perfection, Just the right side of rare with a nice bit of bite to it. Was a great little treat that we would be able to eat it over and over! They produce a whole host of buffalo products not just meat, including milk, cheese and ice creams. Mainly available local to them or at the shows they attend. Find out more at

2: Pie mania. These guys are a Banbury based gourmet pie producer and have a small but strong showing of handmade pastries that are good value for money and are very pleasant, while not being too heavy which I find some pies can be. We opted for the Goats cheese, sweet potato and spinach variety. Upon arriving home we reheated it in the oven for about 25 minutes and when warmed through it became a completely different animal and we loved every mouthful, only downside was we thought it would have been nice to have been able to buy them warm at the stall. Apart from that they were incredibly moreish and look forward to seeing them again so I can nab another one.

1: Already mentioned and deservedly so, Supreme sausages. Amazing. This company provides some of the best flavour combinations found in sausages that I have encountered, being somebody who loves game and other alternative meats they really do cater for my tastes. We both agree that they deserve the number one spot purely down to the fact that eating that first sausage kept them on our minds all day. Not only did the initial sausage make us marginally fall in love with their produce but the ones we took home created some great meals that pushed us further over the line. Their range includes (As mentioned above) the venison, pork and mushroom, the wild boar and apple along with the Toulouse, Cumberland, the fire sausage, pork with tomato and black pepper, pork with honey and mustard and also lamb and mint to name just a choice section of their range. They also offer an online delivery service guaranteed delivery within 24 hours of despatch, packed with icepacks in polystyrene boxes to guarantee they maintain their freshness en route. Visit to order yours or to find out more.



Other honourable mentions are, the Cheshire cheese company, the Snowdonia cheese company, the arm and hammer soda mixology stand, Lakeland, the world cheese awards (never seen so much cheese!), The potted game company.

Overall the show worth every penny of the entrance fee and I would recommend it to anybody who loves food. The next one is in July just in time for all your summery gluttonous needs, Fingers crossed ill see some of you there, in the meantime visit the links and help support these great companies!

Influence in the kitchen: the formative years of a budding cook

This week I have been pondering what started it all for me. What was it that really got me into my kitchen and fuelled my intrigue? Why did I start cooking and what drives me to continue? I am going to talk about these things in this article and see if i can retrace my steps a little bit to see what made me really develop my greedy streak.

I believe it all started when I was around 8 and in junior school, I used to watch ready steady cook and things like that but not really understand anything that was going on, I just used to think Ainsley Harriot was funny! I also watched a TV show with Gary Rhodes on CBBC (the name escapes me) where they used to make all manner of strange and freaky dishes with a few children taking part in the process. I always wanted to go on that show. So the interest was there from a young age but I didn’t really get up and want to try anything further than cupcakes from a DIY kit until I started watching the early shows from Jamie Oliver. Jamie’s boyish enthusiasm and fresh take on cooking opened my eyes to a new world of possibility in the kitchen and really gave me a will to get in there and do it myself. This led to a few over cooked pasta dishes and a new found reliance on smoke alarms, but it was all an essential part of the learning curve in my (culinary) formative years. I came through this period not really taking much in, but the genuine passion for it was starting to seep through and grow within me. You should have seen my face when I cooked my first fry up for my Nan when she stayed over one weekend; it was like I was singing for Simon Cowell. The judgement meant the world to me it really did. Part of me feels the same to this day when I get somebody to try something new I have made.


My first real inspiration was a certain Mr. Oliver.

My first real inspiration was a certain Mr. Oliver.

This brings me to between the ages of 14 and 16 where I was becoming aware of the effect of herbs in dishes. Our new and increasing reliance on the internet and search engines at the time meant learning became easier; I was starting to understand what I was seeing on the TV now and able to translate those things to the plate. I was able to understand the importance of timing and the scientific aspect of how cooking effects ingredients too, which provided a better platform with which to increase my actual skills and the techniques I was using. By this time Jamie was starting to move into the whole food revolution stage of his career and concentrating on really making a difference in young peoples eating habits, which was admirable but not as interesting for me at that time. So I started branching out a bit and watching shows and reading books by other chefs I wasn’t as aware of at the time like the Hairy bikers, Rick stein, Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio, who all became some of my more favoured influences. These new takes on cooking introduced me to other aspects of the gastronomic journey like baking, making fresh pasta, filleting fish and working with fresh shellfish to name a few.

I believe in the 20th century the modern budding cook is, like me, mainly influenced by what they see on their television. This is good in one way as it makes cooking more accessible and less out of reach for some people who believe it is impossible to even comprehend reading the recipe for a lovely homemade burger or a simple pasta dish. This brings me to thinking about what inspired the TV chefs we already know and love? The media had less coverage of the food side of things up until the last decade or so. So was it just their parents cooking that they talk about during their shows and in their books or were they inspired, like me, by the available media at the time? Or was it, even though there were less food orientated presenters on TV, the high quality of the small amount of them that were on the box, a good example would be the late, great, Keith Floyd. Only they will know what really started them cooking of course, But Keith Floyd cannot be ignored as one of British television’s major totems for the foodie revolution we see on our screens today. He was and always will be the godfather of UK TV chefs.


Keith Floyd. An unforgettable part of British TV culture

Keith Floyd. An unforgettable part of British TV culture

Nowadays people are inevitably shaped in lots of ways by what they see on their TV, and as I have said it played a major part in getting me to where I am today with my adoration for food. So I could say I owe a lot to the television for giving me these seemingly one to one sessions with such phenomenal chefs and their books for providing me with an insight into their notebooks. Today I admire a huge amount of people that send my creative juices flowing into over drive, most notably the lasting impression a certain Valentine Warner has had on not only the way that I cook but the way that I look at food. Val has that spark for food just as Jamie did the first time I saw him but conveys a much deeper understanding of where the food comes from, he is a modern chef who embraces old practices like hunting your own rabbits and fishing for your own fish, that some people see as pointless due to the convenience of their supermarket. I can honestly say I share his enthusiasm to be part of the whole process, to catch, create and enjoy. He is credited with giving me a much better understanding of this and really inspiring me to push on and get my hands dirty. Along with Val, the hairy bikers, Gennaro and all of those amazing people continue to inspire me every day, but not just through their shows and books but the work they do to create them. The boundaries they push and the amazing, beautiful food they create with their individual styles serve to inspire us all.

One of my personal favourite TV chefs, Valentine Warner

One of my personal favourite TV chefs, Valentine Warner

To conclude I think I have made it clear how important the good old TV cooking show was in my early years of cooking but I can honestly say the thing that drives me on today is quite simple. Its the people who live and breathe it. The people who go out every day to bring people the best of the best, the writers, the unknown home cooks, the chefs, the farmers and the butchers. I have a vast amount of respect for every part of the system that manages to come together, so we can have such a fantastic range of things to choose from on a daily basis. I hope that the present line-up of TV chefs, bloggers, magazine article writers, cafe owners and street food vendors can inspire the next wave of great professionals beyond what is available today as the standard just keeps getting better with every passing year.

So that’s it really, a touch on what really inspires me and a hope that others, no matter how it comes about, fall in love with food just like I did.