Sunday, 7 September 2014

Cookery to the fore - an experience not to be missed

The Wot's Cooking purpose-built Cookery Theatre
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. If you have never experienced a cookery demonstration organised and presented by the Wot’s Cooking team, then you have missed a truly memorable experience. For a start, husband and wife team Katie & Glyn Johnson have their own fully-equipped mobile demo kitchen: all mod cons and purpose-built to allow everyone in the audience to see and experience what is happening live, on stage. Whilst Katie ‘presents’, Glyn is  behind the scenes taking care of the ‘technicals’. Last Autumn, I was so captivated, I could have spent the entire Show watching and thinking food.

Presenter and compere,
Katie Johnson of Wot's Cooking
This year sees an even more eclectic programme - with the Wot’s Cooking theatre at the heart of the ‘Taste It’ section of the Show. Featuring a range of knowledgeable practising chefs (some appearing at Malvern for the first time), who could fail to be inspired by the delectable selection of specialties they will be showcasing?  You will need to check your Show Guide for exact times. Bookmark any of the following …

Watch bread being made in the Cookery Theatre, 
and then buy something fresh and tasty - 
there's such a selection from which to choose
Appearing twice on Saturday (27th) is Rob Swift of Swift’s Bakery from Clee Hill, whose family have been baking artisanal and speciality breads since 1863. Rob is fifth generation and passionate about the bread-making process and their wide range of finished products: white, wholemeal and brown, French, international, speciality, and a particularly tasty-sounding ‘healthy eating’ range. Rob’s demos are always fun, and afterwards you can visit their stall to stock up on whatever takes your fancy.

Liz Knight at last year's Show
Also twice on Saturday’s bill of fare is Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods. She uses ingredients plucked from her garden and local Herefordshire hedgerows. What a pleasure to discover that you don’t necessarily require expensive ingredients to create a feast when what you need is right there on your doorstep. Liz makes flavours and special seasonal treats, loving the taste of wild ingredients and the thrill of discovering new combinations of flavours - her products are a celebration of the best of the wild, adding a new, wildly irresistible dimension to home cooking.

Always popular - take your seats in good time, ladies and gentlemen
Whilst compiling this preview, I learned from Katie Johnson that Chris von Landkammer - head chef at The Elms in Worcester, is the most widely travelled chef that she has ever engaged to work with. Not in terms of Malvern to Worcester (a mere hop) but from as far afield as New Zealand. If the hotel website is anything to go by, you’ll be in for a treat, for he infuses many of their delectable dishes with touches of Asian cuisine garnered from his experience in the Far East.  Using the freshest of ingredients, and fruit, herbs and vegetables from The Elms’ extensive kitchen garden, he conjures up a daily smorgasbord of fabulous meals. What will he offer us in the Wot’s Cooking kitchen?

Calling all vegetarians - oh so tasty (pumpkins to the fore)
For the vegetarians amongst you, Lizzy Hughes of  Our Lizzy Cooking - a Malvern-based vegetarian cookery school - will be there to entertain you on both Saturday AND Sunday. She enjoys using a wide range of locally grown seasonal produce and loves exploring new ingredients whilst developing new recipes. She says, “Autumn is my favourite time of year. I especially love trying out different pumpkins and squash as they work so well in vegetarian dishes.” At the show she’ll be demonstrating a three course Autumnal feast will a warming Roasted Pumpkin and Chilli Soup, Squash and Spelt Risotto, Hubbard Squash and Fava Bean Casserole. (Lizzy also loves using fruit and will show the traditional Malvern Pudding using apples from her own tree.)

Fish - a refreshing change?
Tom Court of Sticky Fig Catering will be appearing twice on Sunday (28th). Established in 2013, their services have grown to include event catering, from intimate dinners to large celebrations, to weddings and parties in the privacy of home. Their aim is to provide the best quality food and service at all events, creating memorable experiences for guests. Sticky Fig is committed to sourcing the best local and sustainable produce from local suppliers whist being mindful of budget. There are bound to be plenty of useful tips from this midlands-based chef who is used to cooking for clients or with them in their home kitchen.

From seed to plate: metres rather than food miles
Andy Link - the award winning head chef, gardener and bee keeper at The Riverside Inn, Amestery (a rural Herefordshire restaurant) - aims to create a true hub for local seasonal produce, showcasing the best the area has to offer. As part of this the chefs have developed over an acre of land to create traditional and experimental vegetable, fruit and herb gardens - which even include their own bee hive. These working kitchen gardens are an essential part of their facilities, offering chefs the opportunity to experiment with different ingredients and plant types, whilst introducing new flavours alongside a great level of freshness, The result?  Some dishes travel only metres, not miles.  Andy says that during the Malvern Autumn Show, he will be “discussing the sustainable way in which the restaurant uses this seed-to-plate approach to create a few seasonal, home grown plates of food using only ingredients from the restaurant grounds."

Oh the shame of it!
 Even journalists have to eat!
Watching food demos is hungry work, or at least one craves food afterwards, or at any time of the day. There are plenty of refreshments on offer around the Showground, clearly marked on the map that accompanies your Showguide. As these are all conveniently located, there’s no excuse for not stopping for a bite and a cuppa – indeed, your visit may well benefit from so doing when you arrive, allowing you time to glance through the Show Guide and formulate a plan of what you most want to do; Cookery Theatre timetable included. Familiarisation can save time and possible frustration, allowing you to pack far more into your day out.

All images are copyright - with thanks to all the photographers who have co-operated with me to produce this cookery preview.

Just to remind you: Show opening times on both days are 9.00am to 6.00pm and there’s a free shuttle bus from Great Malvern rail station. There's also no charge for standard car parking.  Book your Show tickets online, or phone the ticket hotline (01684 584924). More next week - so do bookmark this page.

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