There was a tangible buzz of excitement rippling through East London as I began my Global Feast journey. Despite predictions there was no travel chaos, my trip between Ebbsfleet International and Stratford international was simple and quick (ten minutes from Kent to East London!!) although I was travelling at 10am and it did get busier as the day progressed.
As mentioned in my earlier post, Global Feast is a twenty night dining extravaganza coinciding with the London Olympics. More of a fringe event, it acts as an antidote to the corporate pressures pushed by the Olympic sponsors and instead focuses on the glorious eclecticism of the UK. This country is home to so many nationalities, cuisines, personalities and talents all living cheek by jowl on this small island and each night of Global Feast celebrates these talents and heritage of a different chef or chefs.
Then there is the table where guests seat themselves in a different country and are encouraged to move around to a different continent between courses. Alex Haw’s Worldscape table is an equidistant cylindrical map of the world showing its peaks, troughs and centres of habitation marked out by tiny lights set into the table. It is a perfect work of art and design and I’m only sorry that it wasn’t finished on the night I cooked (its intricacy and problems with machinery meant that completion was delayed).
If Alex was the artist and host for the night, his counterpart Kerstin Rogers (aka msmarmitelover) was the talented curator and coordinator of food. She is a small explosion of a woman. Loud, bold, direct and disconcertingly (for some) forthright. She can be rude and blunt but working with her on this project, up close and personal, gave me an insight into how she makes big things happen and how open, generous, supportive and good fun she is. I had a fantastic time! Clearly staging such an event is highly challenging and stressful and there were moments of near disaster (when we lost power to the fryers; as I almost had a flap because my first batch of gingerbread went wrong, no numbers on the cooker dial meant I turned it down instead of up!!; and it was such a hot day that everything kept melting, but no one lost their head and with help of the ‘backstage team’ (my unsung hero’s) Colin (from lovefood), Kiren (highly accomplished chef from The Bladebone Inn) and Linn (guest chef for Northern European night but helping out in between) it all came together. In Kiren’s words that’s why everyone loves British chefs, they just get on with it.
So here it is, in fabulous Technicolor pictures (courtesy of Kate Withstandley art blogger and my official photographer for the evening…as of course I was too busy!)
Starter of blue cheese salad with mixed leaves, flowers, pickled radish, pickled sour cherries and toasted oats by Aoife Behan of Jelly&gin, my co-chef for the nights
The menu, map napkins and beautiful plates with a relief of London
waitresses at our field kitchen and Col from lovefood
plating main course
fish (sustainable pollack in beer batter) with crispy chips sprinkled with truffle salt, French peas (cooked in white wine) and home-made tartar sauce cooked by Kerstin as her quintessentially English dish
plating my dessert: Apple and cinnamon tart, salted caramel sauce, Welsh ginger bread
The finished dish, completed with glass of Penderyn Welsh whisky
Kerstin’s world pop’s
My roll call of sponsors and suppliers:
- Penderyn Whisky. Gorgeous Welsh whisky with a smooth honey flavour that paired beautifully with the spices in my dessert
- Nantmor Welsh shiitake mushrooms
- Snowdonia cheese company. Black bomber cheddar
- The tomato stall. Oak smoked tomatoes
- Calon Wen butter
- Shipton Mill Plain flour
- Halen Mon sea salt and vanilla salt
- Cotswold Gold white truffle oil
- Steenbergs organic fairtrade spices
- Redcurrants from Moelyci environmental centre
Thank you to you all x