Inside the BBC Good Food Show Spring
by Molly Fowler
If you’re anything like me when it comes to all things edible, I can only describe stepping into the BBC Good Food Show this April as akin to having died and been transported directly to heaven – if heaven was full of the finest meats, sweets, cheeses, wines, and Masterchef’s Greg Wallace and John Torrode to boot.
Not knowing where to look first as I was bombarded by an overabundance of succulent smells and sights, I immediately began sampling and soon began spending my hard earned cash (thanks again, unreasonably large student overdraft). The BBC Good Food show was the perfect place to try some of the best, freshest and finest seasonal produce Britain had to offer, and I was proud to be given the opportunity to experience it. Reflecting the glorious multiculturalism Britain as a nation is known for, visitors to the Good Food Show were delighted with everything from classically British mature cheddars and stiltons to much more exotic foodstuffs such as a range of Chan Cham cooking sauces, including ‘smokey lapsang’ and ‘tamarind and spice’.
The event more than catered to those with a sweet tooth, with some of the highlights including Sugar Cups impressive range of individually packaged cupcakes, with deliciously rich creamy buttercream icings and cutesy names like ‘Cheeky Chocolate’ and ‘Chic Choc Coffee’. Another big hit on the day – especially with the younger visitors to the show – were a stunning range of build-your-own gingerbread houses, with astonishingly intricate details such as door knockers, post boxes and tiny fondant birds.
Being a student I was naturally overwhelmed with the amount of free samples offered by the generous stall owners – one could honestly not walk three paces without being practically force fed several different things by vendors eager to entice you to their stalls with bold flavours and original creations. Their tactics definitely worked, as I shamelessly caught the eye of several other foodies clutching carrier bags stuffed perilously full of goodies that they simply had to have whilst I scraped in my own wallet for that hidden five pound note I keep for emergencies.
Thankfully I was so full of crackers topped with chutney and mini sausages on sticks that I was able to stand – well, wobble – up to the challenge of trying the multitude of alcoholic drinks they had on offer, maintaining to myself that a state of ever-so-slight inebriation was expected, nay healthy, if one is to truly experience a food festival. Thankfully I managed to maintain my dignity and was particularly taken with some of the sweet drinks on offer, including the Ron Aguere caramel rum which had a sweet taste on the palate with a satisfying warming sensation moments after swallowing, and a range of chocolate wines which had a gloriously deep flavour of the finest quality chocolate running through them, beautifully offsetting the deep fruitiness of the wine. However, whilst I felt very sophisticated sampling wines and liquors from all over the world and emitting what I hoped were professional-sounding ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s at will, I couldn’t stop myself from letting out an involuntary giggle at the stand selling Pussy Natural Energy Drink, with the ingenious tagline ‘The drink’s pure – it’s your mind that’s the problem’.
So caught up was I in the world of sampling and buying delectable treats that I almost forgot the real highlight – for me, at least – of the day, which was being able to meet two of my foodie heroes, Greg Wallace and John Torrode, as they hosted a live Masterchef-style cook-off between 2010 Celebrity Masterchef winner and bestselling cookbook author Lisa Faulkner and current Masterchef champion Shelina Permalloo. I don’t know whether it was the ‘thorough’ alcohol sampling I had been engaging in earlier in the afternoon, but I am not ashamed to admit I got a little choked up when I got my first peek of Greg’s bald head and John’s huge grin as they made their way on to the stage.
Keeping the audience in raptures for a solid thirty minutes, we watched mesmerised as Lisa cooked a stunning looking and impossibly complicated clear chicken consume accompanied by up-market delicate toast soldiers filled with a rich chicken mousse, whilst Shelina produced wonderfully robust spicy aubergine fritters accompanied by a luscious sounding Asian coleslaw. Watching these two outstanding women cooking right in front of us was, if you will excuse the pun, a real treat for the audience members, made even more juicy by Greg and John’s constantly comic bantering and passionate hugs whilst reminiscing over previous Masterchef experiences. Whilst the competition was tough judging by the comments made by Greg and John (Lisa’s dish was described as ‘stunningly beautiful’ by Greg, whilst John compared Shelina’s aubergine fritters to receiving ‘the biggest snog in the world’), Lisa Faulkner’s chicken consommé really took the biscuit with its strikingly sophisticated presentation, and she was deservedly crowned the winner to the sound of thundering applause (and rumbling stomachs).
Overall, events like the BBC Good Food Show Spring make me proud to be British. From the friendly vendors who were more than happy to stand and chat to you about their genuine passion for food and drink, to the excitement of seeing a live cooking battle between two chefs whose food I had grown to know and love through religiously watching Masterchef, to the excellent quality fare that I was able to sample throughout the day, I left the show feeling my soul had been thoroughly fed with an abundance of first rate produce, and my thirst for exciting culinary experiences had been well and truly quenched – for a while at least.