There is only one thing for it – let’s begin with John Torode, who for me was the star of the show.
I have to say he is without a doubt the funniest, most personable guy that I have had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. This is the second time that I have seen Torode demonstrate his excellent culinary skills from the: “AGA Rangemaster” stage over the past four weeks; the first time was at Chatsworth Country Fair. I do feel that as usual, this celebrity chef was on top form and the audience did nothing but lap up his jovial nature.
The former restauranteur and celebrity chef who first appeared on television on ITV’s: “This Morning” back in 1996, is best known for his role as a presenter on: “MasterChef/Celebrity MasterChef” but has made many TV appearances on shows such as: “Junior MasterChef”, “New British Kitchen” and “The Magicians” where he was joined by fellow MasterChef presenter Greg Wallace (which saw the pair hanging off the side of Tate Modern in London).
Torode began his time on stage by; yes you guessed it, promoting his new book: “My Kind of Food” which admittedly was all done in jest. The audience’s response to his regular and reoccurring reminders throughout the show about the release of his new book; showed that he is most certainly adored by his fans.
He prepared two dishes for the audience, both of which can be found in: “My Kind of Food”. Although I have seen him cook his “Banana French Toast” recipe before; I certainly didn’t mind seeing it again. Not only did it look superb, but it smelt so too. Torode went on to explain that he makes a Lobster version of his French Toast which is served with maple glazed bacon – I mean, doesn’t that sound divine?
During his stint on stage, Tordode made sure to include the younger members of his audience which on Sunday happened to be a little boy and his sister.
The children were sitting enjoying the show in their chef’s hats and aprons after spending the morning in the world-class School of Artisan Food marquee where they had been taking part in the children’s cookery classes.
John requested that they join him up on stage. He then proceeded to ask both of them what their favourite meals were and the little girl gave a pretty regular answer but like most little boys do, her brother replied with: “well obviously that’s pizza and chips”.
Torode’s response to the “pizza and chips” answer was to hand the little boy a copy of his new book. He then sent him off stage whilst informing him of the fantastic pizza recipe inside. The crowd applauded and the little boy sat back down in the audience with his parents looking extremely pleased that they had just got themselves a copy of “My Kind of Food”.
Book Signing with Torode…
After Torode was finished on stage, I and a number of his adoring fans made their way over to where he was doing
his book signings in the VIP area. Although he was clearly tired and in need of a drink, he never once failed to show gratitude to his many fans who were all waiting patiently for him to sign their book.
He was funny, kind and chatty. In fact, he was everything you would hope a celebrity chef would be and we all enjoyed every second of spending time with him.
As this was in fact a Festival of Food and Drink, I wanted to concentrate on talking with some of the local businesses who had turned up with their gorgeous goods, so I made my way around the food tent in order to try and catch two minutes with as many people as possible; although this proved to be a rather tricky task. As you can imagine, it was quite busy.
Luckily, after sticking with the crowds I finally succeeded in my mission…
Frazer’s Artisan Coffee…
All I had to do to find this delightful place was to follow the wonderful smell of freshly ground Coffee. Immediately I was welcomed by the very friendly couple behind Frazer’s Artisan Coffee Roasters; who I later found out are based in Sheffield. Unsurprisingly, the sole roaster behind this successful business is called Frazer. The extent of his passion for coffee beans came across the minute I began speaking with him.
He informed me that he has been roasting coffee for the likes of you and I since June 2014 and now supplies shops and local farmers markets, as well as standing at shows such as the Food and Drink Festival.
After speaking with Frazer for a short while, it was clear to see that he is most definitely keen to deliver coffee that is great tasting, fresh and most importantly; of the highest quality.
Like most successful business men, Frazer doesn’t just settle for what he already has; he is constantly on the search for new and exciting coffees to bring back to his home town of Sheffield. His hard work and determination enables coffee lovers like us to sit back and enjoy a wide variety of coffee that has been sourced from around the world.
I took away with me a lovely packet of: “King of Coffee” which Frazer even ground for me there and then so it was ready for me to make wherever I fancied it.
The fact that this particular coffee has a mild caffeine content and is of a light roast makes it an easy first choice for me in the mornings and early evenings; especially since I feel that I am drinking far too much of the strong stuff.
I will most definitely be returning for more of Frazer’s excellent caffeine goodness. If you want to take a look at the different types of coffee that Frazer’s have to offer, why not take a look on their website here.
The Brownie Bar…
I am a total brownie fan so I just couldn’t walk past when I spotted all of those gooey, rich brownies sitting there on display.
Like most companies do who attend shows such as this; The Brownie Bar tends to bring only a small selection of what they offer in total and although they had brought a good selection along with them, I was later surprised to discover that they offer over thirty different flavours in all.
The Brownie Bar began in 2010 when Sarah Cawkwell a trained pastry chef and Rachel (Sarah’s sister) who has a degree in business studies; both began baking brownies at home in small batches. I am not at all surprised to learn that they have grown considerably since then because let me tell you, their Brownies are truly heavenly.
Five years on and they now have their own store, a thriving events programme and a huge amount of brownie loving fans (like me).
I was lucky enough to get to sample five out of the thirty different flavours on offer and although I felt a little full afterwards, I enjoyed every single mouthful. I have to say that my favourites out of the five that I tried were the Peanut Butter flavour and the Corker. Of course, I wasn’t the only one who loved their brownies; my son enjoyed getting stuck in too.
Not only can you purchase their brownies in store, you can also make an order online here where you will find all of their amazing flavours and even a “Celebration Brownie” which is the ideal alternative to a traditional cake.
Hedgerow Chutneys, Preserves and Spirits…
The one thing that drew me in when passing the Hedgerow stand was actually their wonderful banner which was very simple, yet I feel it was also very explanatory.
We were told that the ingredients for all of the home-made products are sourced locally from a number of different places such as: Misterton and Bitteswell where the apples are collected, Mowsley where the elderberries are gathered from and for the damsons, a trip is taken to Countesthorpe in Hawthorn. Hedgerow do in fact grow their own lavender.
The products are made in small batches so that they are able to maintain a high standard and to ensure that the quality is perfect too, the various chutneys, jams, jellies and dips are only made from fruit that is in season. The main aim of the company is to become fully organic in the future; sourcing most of their ingredients from ethical suppliers.
I love the combination of fruit and nut, so when making my choice I didn’t have much trouble. I picked the Pear and Walnut which I have been having on my sandwiches with some mature cheddar and I have to tell you that it is absolute heaven…
If you are looking to purchase some of the delightful products by Hedgerow, you can find them in the following places:
- Flackies Butchers
- Catthorpe Manor Farm Shop
- Langton Brewery
- Wistow Farm Shop
If you would like to know what types of chutneys, jellies and jams you can purchase from Hedgerow, get in touch with them through their website here.
Jaquest (Redwood Smokehouse)…
I have to be honest here and say that my mum was the one who noticed the goodies that Jaquest were offering. She pointed them out but I was actually speaking with Granny Marys at the time so I joined in the conversation half way through.
I did however find out that the high quality British food products that Jaquest cure and smoke – which means that the food is gently infused for hours over smouldering natural Beech and Oak – are all prepared using sea salt, raw cane sugar, herbs and spices. For their range of superb traditionally cured and smoked foods; Jaquest have won many accolades at the Great Taste Awards in London.
I personally love smoked salmon on a bagel with a big serving of cream cheese. I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could so I was very happy to discover that mum had got some smoked salmon for us to take home and try. After having some for lunch I have to say the taste and quality of their products are nothing like the products that I have tasted in the past which I usually purchase from the supermarket. The flavours were exquisite and the things that stood out to me most was just how fresh the salmon tasted.
The fish and meat from Jaquest have their own brand names which are: “REDWOOD” and “Farjals Country Food”. Of course it is not just meat and fish that Jaquest pride themselves on when it comes to freshness and flavour; they also produce many great tasting cheeses which also happen to be another one of my favourites.
You can find all of their delicious products here.
Pig in the Middle…
The two guys that were standing at “Pig in the Middle – Artisan Sausage Rolls” had some truly awesome looking treats so obviously I just had to take some home.
What surprised me most was that all of their sausage rolls are made by hand, yes you heard me right; and that means the pastry too. It is clear when you take that first bite that these scrumptious rolls are made using only the best British pork sausage meat and of course they are clearly made with care.
The men, who I guessed were brothers seeing as though this is a family run business; were more than happy to chat and couldn’t do enough to help us choose the products that they believed we would really enjoy.
When I got home, the first thing I did was try a bit of each roll. I ended up taking two flavours away with me: marmite and mature cheddar and pork and stilton. Well to say they went down well is an understatement and it wasn’t just me that enjoyed them.
My dad was pretty taken aback by the mouth-watering flavours too. This is perhaps a good opportunity to point out that my dad is the ultimate sausage roll connoisseur so to get his approval is amazing. They were obviously what we would call: “top nosh”.
Whilst John Torode was performing on stage, I noticed a little pot of joy which I didn’t recognise sitting there by the side of his bread board.
I then saw the label which read: “Jim Jams” and as I suspected it was indeed something I had never heard of before but it looked incredibly delicious; especially as Torode held it up to the audience to show it to us.
We were told that it was a chocolate spread that was gluten free but it was also free from added sugar. Now, being a parent myself and being conscious about the amount of sugar my son consumes in a day; I was interested to discover more, so I went on a mission to find the person behind this brilliant and scrummy looking chocolate in a pot.
Not only do Jim Jams make highly attractive chocolate spreads, they also make Jams which is where the idea of creating the brand first began. In the mornings the kids always wanted jam on toast for breakfast but Kevin Bath (dad of the house) felt they didn’t need all of the sugar that came with it, in fact him and his wife were both shocked at the amount of hidden sugars inside each jar.
This gave the pair of them the inspiration and incentive to create a whole range of high fruit jams, no added sugar peanut butter, light and mild honey and a few no added sugar/gluten free chocolate spreads that were all round better for everyone.
The chocolate spreads and jams are much kinder on teeth because of the “no sugar” content but they are also gluten free, diabetic friendly and there is only 35 calories per serving. That’s certainly good enough for us and everyone else it seems as they are just about to launch their range of spreads on Ocado. Their products can also be found at the following places too: TK Maxx, Home Sense, Jimmy’ Farm, Tree of Life and Shire Foods in Norfolk.
I cannot wait to see the look on my son’s face when I spread a big dollop over a slice of toast for him and then don’t nag at him about wanting another slice!
Granny Mary’s Original Recipes…
I actually spoke to Granny Marys before I attended the food fair as I was really intrigued to see what they were going to be bringing with them on the day.
I arranged to go and visit them for a chat but once I got there it was pretty busy with people all wanting to try their products, so I tried my best to get a few minutes with William Sutherland who is the production director of the business.
I discovered that Granny Marys is a young family-run business that concentrates on bringing us products that are made by using only the very highest quality ingredients. Like most companies of this sort, everything is made by hand which of course I fully support and love as you can see by looking at a few other businesses I have written about who do the very same.
Nick Buckingham who plays the important part of “consultant chef and food god” makes the range of products in a SALSA approved factory in Chesterfield. All of the potted products are made in small batches and they use absolutely no preservatives, cereals, colourings or additives and what makes me happiest is that the meat content is above 80%.
The range of products includes: potted meats, super smooth hummus and tapenade (which are both perfect for vegetarians). I can say that from having tried them myself; the duck, chicken and venison are all delicious, so why not take a peek for yourself and choose your favourite.
I must also tell you all to go and take a look at their website, I love it!
Other people that I saw on the day…
Thank you ladies…
I would also like to give a special thank you to the ladies from Poppyseed Media. They were extremely welcoming and made me feel at ease from the minute I arrived. I would also like to mention Sally Outram who is a photojournalist, author and freelance press/magazine photographer. She was incredibly friendly and I found her company thoroughly enjoyable.