Ready, Steady, Cook

March 13th, 2007

Today I filmed an episode of Ready, Steady, Cook for the BBC.  They had approached the UK Barista Championship and asked who would be suitable for contestants and Se and I were suggested and we both agreed to take part.  He flew in from Belfast this morning and hopefully caught his flight back out this evening.

For those of you not familiar with Ready, Steady, Cook (RSC from now on) the idea is that two teams compete (each team is a pro chef and a punter) and the chefs are given a mystery bag of 6 ingredients and have to come with and cook as much as possible in 20 minutes.  It appears as if the contestants chose their ingredients before hand but they are chosen for you.  However the chefs really do have to come up with the dishes in about 5 minutes.

I was partnered with a chef called Lesley Waters who was absolutely lovely.  The whirlwind of cooking during the 20 minute non-stop take stunned me.  My job was to peel this, chop that, wipe that, crush this, fetch that etc.  No real cooking.  Dishes just appeared and everything was cooked beautifully.

My ingredients were:  Sirloin steak, pistachios, a mixture of a few mushrooms (shiitake, oyster etc), baby carrots, sweet potato and a Camembert.  She produced four different things from this – the steak with sweet potato chips, and a mushroom cream sauce, the sweet roast baby carrots on a herb salad with pistachios, a tart of the camembert and more of the mushrooms (this was very good!) and for dessert pastry with the sweet potato (who knew it could be so good in a dessert!) as well as pistachios and honey and yoghurt.  On the other side of the kitchen equally huge quantities of food appeared.

I would struggle with one of those in 20 minutes!  The encyclopedic knowledge of the chefs, mixed with their technical skills really impressed and perhaps inspired me.  Though it isn’t just about being a cookbook – a great deal of it is about adaptation and a feel for your ingredients.

During the show we talked a little about coffee – though we both wished we could have talked more.  Perhaps I will be the first person to go on a cheesey cooking show and use the words Harrar and Yirgacheffe in the same sentence…  All the chefs seemed to really be into coffee without really knowing much about it as a raw ingredient.  I gave Lesley a bag of coffee and I hope she enjoys it.

Perhaps I will make public the date it airs, I am unsure if I made a fool of myself or not.  It was a lot of fun though, hope to do something like that again.

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