After breaky it was on to the main event. I'd be extraordinarily lucky to have been invited to enjoy a VIP day at Taste of London at Regents Park. We had VIP passes from #SPGlife which gave us access to a number of exclusive sessions, including meeting Chef Tom Kerridge. Arriving early meant that there was plenty of time to mooch around and get our bearings considering how large the temporary campus was. I luckily found Chef Tom prior to his cooking demonstrations and SPG meeting & greet, which gave me a chance to pounce. At first I completely chickened out of pestering him but then had a quick chat with myself and dove straight in.
I was slightly concerned that the TB persona wouldn't match the real life version but I'm happy to report that Chef Tom is the same easy-going, cheeky chappy. A delight to chat with, interested in talking about food, still bemused as to why 'anyone would want to have a photo with a fat, bald, tall bloke' and he even thought my 'I'm your stalker for the day' joke was amusing when I collared him for a photo in the SPG Lounge a little later.
His demonstration was equally amusing, he openly admitted to doing no cooking whilst his number two (Chris) did all the work but he was being bombarded with questions which made food preparation a little hard. My favourite question was from a 9 year old girl who asked: 'What would your advice be for an aspiring chef?', to which Chef Tom replied, 'Work hard at school, get good grades, go to university and become a Doctor!'. The 200+ audience erupted in laughter. But he did go on to divulge that if you don't fall in love with the kitchen; burning your hands, the cheeky boy banter, long and unsociable hours; then the love of making food wouldn't be enough. And I think I couldn't agree more, particularly looking at my hands where I currently have two enormous blisters from fishing Semolina Quenelles from boiling water the other day.
I could waffle on about a great deal of food that we tried and tested but will save you and this blog. We did sample a full punch packing Thai Green Curry from the Blue Elephant, that left me sneezing ferociously as I stupidly chewed down on a very spicy chilli. This was followed about 30 minutes later with a 'Penalty Shootout' ice cream by a German manufacturer (I've lost the name of the company - eek). It was laced with Cherry Liqueur and I felt light headed after the first two mouthfuls, clearly I pushed on through to finish the pot.
After 5.5 hours of ambling, sampling, tasting, sipping, trying, slurping and toasting, it was time to make our last stop to the Maille stand and a quick review of their new Spring/Summer collection. The Mustard with White Wine, Green Peas and Chive Blossoms really didn't work for me but then again, the green colour wasn't a good jumping off point. However, the Mustard with White Wine, Basil and Fennel was quickly purchased, along with the Mustard with White Wine, Morello Cherry and Almond, even though it was bright pink!
I don't have time to talk about the wonders of Christian our Mixologist at the SPG VIP stand and his amazing smoked gin cocktail. I will save that for another post. What I can say is that if you have time to visit him at the Le Meridian on Piccadilly, he's well worth a chat to and his cocktails are to die for, along with his home-made Orange Bitters.