It was only a week ago that I arrived back from a fabulous few days in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. A gorgeous town surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside and delicious produce in the UK. It took me a couple of days to recover – it usually does after one of the BRILLIANT BBC Good Food Shows. I spend my time there hosting the Interview Stage and can go from chef to producer, to chef every 30 minutes or so. At the Birmingham shows, I have been known to do 43 interviews in four days.
The Spring show however, is at a more sedate pace in what is a very relaxed and laid back part of the country with some of the most genuine and friendly people too.
I had four boy chefs on the stage – they can be cheeky and I do like to keep them in order! But I have to say they were very well behaved this time, and I had no need for the naughty step!
Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr, The Hairy Bikers and Paul Hollywood.
I had some lovely ladies on the stage too – Frances Atkins from The Yorke Arms, one of only 6 female Michelin Starred Chefs in the Country. Stephanie Moon, formerly of Rudding Park and Dr Claire Maguire from Raw Food Horizons Retreat…where I have since been invited to…..more on that in May!
Various AMAZING Artisan food producers trod the boards too – Simple Simon’s perfect Pies, (I have been a lover of these pies for 8 years!) Shepherd’s Purse Cheese, (I insist you buy their cheese!) Mario, from Olianas with his doughnuts and Leeds Blue Cheese, (Yes that is a picture of me inhaling their doughnut!) Tom and his Warner Edwards Gin …the way to my heart (HIC!), some absolutely stunning Pickles from Pucketts (inventive, tasty and cleverly spiced pickles). And finally, a nutty, fresh and beautifully produced Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil.
I’ve worked with small producers for over 15 years. Be it filming, judging, interviewing or indeed part of the process of sampling and booking them for Thame Food Festival, and it never ceases to amaze me just how committed and hard working they are. There is so much bureaucracy, officious nonsense, taxes and laws involved in food preparation (most of them sensible, some of them stupid) and just to get up in the morning and produce food of a high artisanal standard day after day takes some serious commitment and passion for what you do.
Giving them a platform at a food show and the public buying their loved and well made product is a good way to show them what they are doing is worthwhile, and that the affection they (and us) hold for their produce is worth every ache, pain, piece of paperwork and long hours they put into it.
Of course a trip to Harrogate wouldn’t have been complete without meeting and talking to the very scrumptious lot (Chris, Jenny and Lisa) from Betty’s of Harrogate’s Cookery School. I interviewed them last year and was so pleased they came back – and not just because they usually bring me a treat or two! Though of course I can easily be bought with a Fondant Fancy!!
Oh and this is Sean…a very old mate of mine who lives in Harrogate – we’ve known each other since we were 8 years old.
We have a thing for Pickled Eggs (long story) and Fondant Fancies…and here we are (after a glass or two) showing you JUST how much we love them!
See you next year Harrogate!