The UK CEO Cookoff

Here’s what you get if you combine 30 of the worlds finest chefs, 60 of the UK’s captains of industry and 600 unsung heroes under one roof. The inaugural UK CEO Cookoff brought this seemingly unlikely gathering of incredible people together in support of the recently established UKHarvest and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

Following the fantastically successful OzHarvest in Australia, founded by social entrepreneur Ronni Kahn back in 2004, the UK now has its own food rescue charity that redistributes quality surplus food from commercial outlets to charities. It carries out this truly inspirational role to nourish our nation’s vulnerable, free of charge. Where do I sign up?

Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall is patron of UKHarvest and we had the pleasure of her gracious company on the night as she mingled with guests and chefs alike, and even got involved in creating a delicious plate of food for an everyday hero.

Camilla Parker Bowles

I was volunteering in the esteemed company of three other wonderful Food Revolution Ambassadors, Lara from Essex, Jaroslav from Switzerland and Thomas from Germany. I’m still awestruck; not by the number of celebrities, but by the sheer inspiration, love and palpable motivation in the room. I’m so grateful to everyone that worked so hard to make this happen.

Food Revolution Ambassadors with Jamie Oliver

Everyday heroes from schools, hospitals and charities were treated to a spectacular evening which I have to admit I was rather jealous of; Nyetimber English sparkling wine and Toast Ale on arrival, producer stalls and the Food Assembly showcasing their wares, stunning food crafted in front of them, raucous entertainment from the magical Dynamo, and the most agreeable tones of Calum Scott.

So here’s how it worked. The 30 chefs taught the 60 CEOs, who then cooked for the 600 guests in groups of 20 around little kitchen pods. It was perhaps the most social, friendly and team-spirited experience I can remember. I dearly hope that this is the first of many such events and given Hotpoint‘s kind sponsorship, I’m sure there’s bigger and better to come next year. I teamed up with Jimmy of Ministry of Food fame, Amy from Hotpoint, the legendary Brett Graham of the Ledbury and Andreas Viestad the Norwegian farmer, traveller, home cook, food writer and activist….yeah, busy guy. My word these guys are talented; the attention to detail leaves me speechless. More importantly, they’re incredibly down to earth, charming and generally bloody good guys. Alongside their budding superstar chefs of the future, Eilish Maloney and Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen from Norway, we had a blast with our CEOs from Google, Quadia, John Lewis and Jamie Oliver Licensing.

I was a little busy to be taking lots of photographs as I normally do, but it would be rude not to pop in a few shots of the mouthwatering plates:

beautiful buffalo mozzarellaUK CEO cookoff dish

These guys weren’t holding back: Truffle seaweed, pigs jowls and goat’s whey butter all made an appearance. The fact that Brett and Eilish put a call through to the Ledbury to have their own bread couriered over in a taxi shows how serious they were about delivering the perfect experience for their guests.

How much did we raise….? Over £500,000 before the night was out, and the total is still rising. Mind-blowing! We’re aiming high in the name of food education, tackling malnutrition and obesity, and reducing the staggering level of food wastage.

Get over there and support the cause folks: www.ceocookoff.co.uk

Roll on 2018 CEO Cookoff.

View from Old Billingsgate Grand Hall

 

Heartbeat

For those that know my friend Sara, little of this will come as a surprise.

How do you fancy catering my charity party? They’ll be about 100 people..

Sara has always hated running, so now she’s running the London Marathon. Admirably, this will be in support of The British Heart Foundation and in loving memory of her dad. You can read her inspirational story here.

To raise cold hard cash she decided to throw one big party.. One big hurrah; the party of the century to smash her fundraising target in one fell swoop.

100 people is a lot more than I’ve ever cooked for, but sure, how can I resist helping out a friend. The loan of her brother’s barn, many late nights of planning, and a troop of dedicated volunteers helped her to pull everything together for the big night.

So. What do you cook for 100 people? It had to be street food, gluten free, and without doubt a Food Revolution stunner – something nutritious, delicious and portable. Oh, and with a vegetarian option too..

Thankfully I had a special request for chilli, and between us we hatched a cunning plan to feed everyone without actually having any cooking facilities in said barn.

Oh, great news Alex, it’s been really popular and I’ve sold a few more tickets..

So.. now we have 250 hungry mouths to feed. I’m big enough to admit I was somewhat terrified. Not to worry though, as my 6-year-old daughter, Winter, crafted me this little beauty to keep me company:

mascot

Many, many hours of prep and we finally made it to crunch time with a beef chilli and a vegetable chilli to serve in wraps with sour cream, salad, chillies, cheese and fresh herbs.

Oh, not to forget the comedy of barbequing sweet potato in a panic.. I kid you not:

barbequed sweet potato slices

A couple of camping burners in the barn to keep it all piping hot and we were away.

Getting ready

What a party! I started serving at 9pm and it was 11:30pm before I had a moment to glance at my watch. I have a whole new respect for people that do this for a living.

The Heartbeat BHF party

Clich here for the Pulled Beef Brisket Chilli recipe, and slide over to Jamie Oliver’s website for the Smoky Vegetable Chilli recipe. Personally, I think that the Veggie Chilli tastes better, but as you can imagine, given the option almost everyone went straight for the beef until it sold out.

I’m super pleased to report that Sara raised a staggering £6,000 for the British Heart Foundation. Amazing. What a legend. Same again next year?

Heatbeat party bottles

Pulled Beef Brisket Chilli

For all the lovely folk that enjoyed the Beef Chilli at the Heartbeat party for the British Heart Foundation in Newent last night, here’s the recipe I used (based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 kg beef brisket, trimmed and scored
  • olive oil
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 400 ml beef stock
  • 4 bell peppers (red/yellow), sliced
  • 1 tin of black beans
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 red chillies, sliced
  • red wine vinegar (splash)

Method:

Mix the spices together with a little salt and pepper and rub it all over the beef. Drizzle with olive oil and seal in a hot pan until browned all over.

Browning beef brisket

Place the brisket in a large pot and add the tomatoes, stock, peppers and black beans.

Fry the onions and chillies for a few minutes and add them to the pot.

Bring it all to the boil, cover, and then simmer on a low heat for 4 to 5 hours until you can easily pull the beef apart using 2 forks.

Add a splash of red wine vinegar to balance the flavours.

beef brisket chilli

Serve with sour cream, grated cheese, fresh chillies, salad leaves, fresh coriander and basil. If you’re serving the beef in tortilla wraps, this should serve around 20 people.

 

 

Risotto for Little M

Little M’s Legacy supports Severn Freewheelers (Blood Bikes) and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research charities. Madison, a colleague’s granddaughter, was just 2 years old when she tragically lost her fight against Leukaemia.

My contribution to Little M’s Legacy was to donate a risotto cooking class and dinner to their charity auction. I hope to also raise awareness; there’s fantastic work being done out there to support present-day treatments, and incredible research to help combat blood cancer in the future.

I want to say a big thank you to the generous couple with the winning bid, I hope you enjoyed your dining experience!

Here’s my recipe for making a beautiful Pea & Mint Risotto for future reference:

Risotto ingredients

 

Ingredients:

(4 people)

  • 60g Butter
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 stick Celery, finely diced
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • 400g Risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 1 glass White Wine – optional
  • 1.5L Stock (Chicken or Vegetable), hot
  • 100g Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Fresh Mint, small bunch, finely sliced
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Pangrattato (crispy breadcrumbs) – optional
  • Pea shoots/micro herbs/rocket – optional

Method:

I’m going to start by stressing that making a good risotto is all about understanding the look, feel and taste as you cook it; recipes are merely guides and risotto is probably the exemplar of that fact.

Generally, you can make a basic white risotto (risotto bianco) and then flavour it in numerous ways towards the end. The quality of your stock will make a big difference to this recipe.

Using the above ingredients list as your guide, start by gently sweating down your ‘Soffritto’ of finely diced onion, celery and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes with 30g of butter and a swig of olive oil. The vegetables want to be softened, but not coloured.

Add the rice and stir it around for a few minutes until all of the grains are nicely coated and starting to turn translucent.

Add the wine, increase the heat to medium and allow it to cook away before adding your first ladle of hot stock.

As each ladleful of stock is absorbed by the rice, add another, stirring as you go to help the grains cook evenly and release their starch.

Notice how the rice moves in the pan when you stir it and the volume increases. After you’ve added about two thirds of your stock (about 20 minutes), taste the rice; you want the rice to still have some bite to it but not be chalky. Your judgement is critical from this point on, so keep tasting a little rice every few minutes and observing how it looks and moves. You may not use all the stock, and if you run out, just add a little hot water.

You don’t want to overcook the peas, so add them and the fresh mint just before the rice is ready. Once you’re happy with the texture, stir in the Parmesan cheese and 30g of butter. Place a lid over the pan, take it off the heat and allow your risotto to rest for a few minutes.

Serve your risotto with your favourite flourishes such as a sprinkle of Pangrattato, shavings of Parmesan, a squeeze of lemon, twists of Black Pepper, a drizzle of Olive Oil, Fresh Pea shoots, Rocket or Micro Herbs etc.

This dish would also work wonderfully adorned with a little crispy bacon or Pancetta.

Pea & Mint Risotto

I know what I’m having for dinner..

Coffee & Cake Makes Us Stronger

People are awesome.  We had such a great Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support today and raised a stack of cash for the charity in the process.  We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that came along for cake and a natter.  I’ll admit that I had to go with the 7am backup Portuguese Tarts as I wrecked the tiered Ombre Cake that my wife requested… Probably for the best as our guests brought beautiful homemade cakes which were all delicious (and I’ll definitely be going for a run in the morning).  Experimenting with Superfood Brownies and Amazeballs was truly worthwhile and made it accessible to everyone.

The highlight for me?  Whilst Emma was counting up, Felix asked if he could put some money in the box from his piggy bank.


2014 Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support

http://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/

The yearly Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event.  They ask people across the UK to hold a coffee morning and raise money for people living with cancer. In 2013, 154,000 people signed up, raising a record £20 million.

What a shame it’s only once a year!

Anna's Banana Cake no-cook superfood browniesMacmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning