HIGHLIGHTS FROM BBC GARDENERS’ WORLD LIVE AND GOOD FOOD SHOW.
By Ann Evans
Photos courtesy of Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography.
The crowds descended on the Birmingham NEC at the weekend for the BBC Gardeners’ World Live and Good Food Show – some enjoying blazing sunshine and others torrential rain! Happy to say I picked a good day, when it was gloriously hot.
As ever there was so much going on, from popular celebrity chefs and top TV gardeners to fabulous food and drink producers, plus all kinds of culinary gadgets, gardening tools and plants. Certainly something to interest everyone.
Among the celebrity chefs doing interviews, demonstrations and signing books were Tom Kerridge, James Martin, Mary Berry, Michael Roux Jr., John Torode, Michael Caines MBE, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.
Experts were cooking for their audiences in the Supertheatre, on the Summer Kitchen Stage and the Stoves Live Cook Stage. Not to be missed was the Ludlow Producers Market – an area dedicated to a fantastic collection of producers from Ludlow and the Marches; Mer et Vigne – the French Market; and the BBC Good Food Champions, which was dedicated to the finest speciality, regional and artisan food and drink.
Over at the BBC Gardeners’ World hall and outdoor areas, inspiration was all around, as you wandered through the amazingly colourful gardens, stands and displays. Plus TV celebrities Monty Don, Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Toby Buckland took part in Live Theatre events talking about designs, planting and much more.
More than 100 independent nurseries were involved in the show providing plenty of opportunity for visitors to buy new plants and garden products. Fantastic new ideas were in abundance, regardless of whether you have a huge garden or just a window box. In fact there was a window box competition that 24 West Midlands based gardeners had taken part in.
As for the RHS Floral Marquee and RHS Plant Village, where you could see prize winning displays and buy the most incredible plants, well, that was out of this world!
Here’s my personal highlight from the show.
Chef Tom Kerridge’s interview:
The audience got the chance to ask Tom Kerridge some questions. Asked why he chose to run a pub rather than a typical chefy restaurant, Tom said: “I am from the West Country – you may not have noticed! We moved to London when I was 20 years old. I had 10 years in London working as a chef. Then me and the wife started looking around for a business, and we looked everywhere. But a pub was something I wanted to do. It was an environment I wanted to be in, cooking food I liked. I’m just a regular geezer and a pub suited me a lot more. The Hand and Flowers pub in Marlow came up so we thought, let’s go for it.”
Tom has recently opened a new pub restaurant which is just a few hundred yards down the road from his 2 Michelin Star pub restaurant, the Hand and Flowers to cope with the demand for his ‘lush’ pub grub.
Asked what his favourite thing to cook is, Tom said, “Well it’s a favourite method of cooking rather than a specific thing. I’ve been a chef for 24 years. You learn processes and systems and the way to do things. But I’ve recently bought a traditional wood-fired oven to go in my back garden. It’s such a primal way of cooking. You pile on a load of wood, and set fire to it. There’s no way I can control the heat apart from putting another log on the fire or not. It’s a very basic way of cooking and I love it.”
Talking about his favourite food when he’s not being ‘cheffy’, Tom said: “I’m a huge fan of burgers! But I’ve shed a lot of timber over the last few years, which I did by cutting out booze and burgers. But I do love pepperami – the red spicy sort. They are lush!”
Signature Brands the Home of Old J.
If you like spiced rum, then you’ll like these! They come in two strengths, 35% ABV spiced rum and the (151 US proof) 75.5% ABV Tiki Fire spiced rum – the world’s first over-proofed spiced rum.
I talked to Tom Hurst who created the recipe. He said, “We use a basic high quality neutral rum spirit which we import from Jamaica and then it’s all about what we do it it. I worked in the lab for three months with this doing different versions. We knew what we wanted, it was just getting the balance right. It’s made with 11 different flavours and from a chemistry point of view you cannot fit any more flavours in. It was called Batch 21 because there were 21 major changes, then 60 or so versions to make the stronger version.
“We have the best rating in our category in Diffordsguide – 4 out of 5 stars recommended status in our spiced rum category. I call it a ‘gateway rum’ for people who don’t necessarily think they like rum. It’s cheap for cocktails as it already has 11 flavours, so you just need to add one other flavour. And the Tika Fire perfect for higher end cocktail bars.”
Original Chocolate Dream Company
Imagine a virtual wall of chocolate fudge in a multitude of different colours, flavours and quirky shapes. But forget little bits of fudge, I’m talking big slabs of fudge.
I talked to Georgie Pashby who has worked for the Scarborough-based company for six years. She said: “The Original Chocolate Dream Company has been going for 17 years. We started off with basic flavours of fudge, vanilla, chocolate, rum and raison then we decided to explore with other flavours. We now make around 300 different flavours of fudge.”
Keep up the good work, that’s all I can say!
Whether he was cooking live in the Supertheatre, or being interviewed, James Martin certainly pulls in the crowds. Having personally interviewed him in the past – and eaten a meal cooked and served by him on an unforgettable trip to Coors Brewery, he just has to be in my list of highlights!
Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Company
Helen Ellis has been making chocolate pizzas for eight years. She started creating them from home, but they proved so popular she had to expand her business. She now has three units and a team of 13 chocolatiers working for her. Her pizzas are made from solid Belgian chocolate or Fair Trade Belgian chocolate with all kinds of delicious toppings.
Chatting to me about how she comes up with her ideas, Helen said: “You take into consideration national trends for flavours and adapting them. We do about 12 or 13 different flavours. They are tailor made for special occasions and events throughout the year, such as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentines Day, Christmas, Easter and birthdays. And they can be personalised to celebrate special occasions like a new baby, or passing exams or your driving test. Anything you want really.”
While I wasn’t celebrating anything other than being at the show, I couldn’t resist a Belgian milk chocolate base infused with natural mandarin oil, topped with orange rainbow drops, white honeycomb balls and milk chocolate curls finished with a chocolate covered candied orange slice.
Totally out of my league – but I want one!
RHS Floral Marquee and RHS Plant Village
So many magnificent displays, such as David Austin roses, Fibrex Nurseries, Blackmore Langdons’ begonias and delphiniums, Brookfield Hostas, lilies from Harts Nursery, Pinewood Bonsai, Southfield Nurseries’ incredible cacti.
A fabulous inspirational show!