Monday, 16 July 2007

Fun At The Big Top

In my second consecutive and final self-indulgent posting of the week, I have to tell you about one of the best weekends I have ever had. I've literally just landed from Abingdon in Oxfordshire after performing at the aforementioned Children's Food Festival. I'm exhausted, aching all over, but ecstatic.


Mark and I arrived early Saturday morning under dark skies to a huge empty field surrounded by marquees of varying sizes. As we approached the site, it was clear which marquee we had - the one that could fit 1 man and his dog in at a squeeze. Used to performing in front of at least 150 children at one time, it was fair to say that we were brought back down to earth with a huge bang. But what a laugh about it we had, and in true Northern grit style, we buckled down and made the most of an absolutely superb event. With mouths as big as ours, as well as Mark's PA pumping out the beats, we were never going to struggle to achieve a bit of interest. With 6 shows planned of varying themes, we settled on our version of The Bush Tucker Trials as it proved so popular. The children loved the surprise element at turning over a cup to find some odd fruit or vegetable there that they had to eat. And although we never planned to ever put anything other than fruit and veg under the cups, I couldn't resist placing a huge black beetle under one of the cups on Sunday morning. All in all, we were more than chuffed with our shows, and proud to perform in our little tent to hopefully spread the love of what Mark and I do with Expo Chef. We achieved our aim of making food fun for the children, as well as making it easy, healthy and tasty.

As well as working hard, we just about found time to do a bit of investigating around the site. If anybody does not know about The Children's Food Festival, it was the first ever food festival designed specifically for children in the whole wide world! And that has to be a thing of greatness. As far as we could see, the organisers at Northmoor Trust did a wonderful job in making it brilliant for the kids. First of all, it was a free event. That meant that families from affluent and not so affluent areas could come and have a great day out. And some of the attractions were fantastically thought out. Special mention has to go to the travelling bands, the giant pig and the baby water buffalo. There were also a few stars of the food world performing, and cue self-indulgence, yours truly was proud to get a big hug and kiss from Sophie Grigson. You could not ask for a more approachable and likeable star and it made my day to meet the daughter of Jane Grigson, the one woman who is responsible for my obsession with British food. The great Mr Carluccio also got a big squeeze from me, what a legend. But there was one true star that towered above everybody at the event, and he even went out of his way to come and see me perform on Sunday. Step forward one Freddie of the Great Big Veg Challenge

Freddie came along with his parents and big sister Alex, and it is safe to say that I was genuinely chuffed to bits to see them all there, as well as lost for words a bit when I spotted them in the modest crowd. What Mark and I do at Expo Chef is to try and make a little change in children's lives via a better understanding of food and what it does to your body. It is a difficult challenge but one that we are passionate about and convinced we can achieve throughout the country by demonstrating tasty, easy and healthy food. If anybody epitomises the fact that children can change their opinions on healthy food and start to eat better, therefore making their life better, it is Freddie. Thanks for coming Freddie. Despite being a Chelsea fan, I truly think that you are a benchmark for kids all over the country. As well as big sis Alex who tells me she eats everything!

On the way home, I also popped in to see a lady who I have not seen since my emotional departure from MasterChef Goes Large – one Hannah Miles. In true Hannah style, I was cooked some superb food and made very welcome in her home. It was brilliant to catch up after all of this time and I can vouch for any fans of her cooking that it is indeed fabulous. Check out her Blog, it will make you feel happy.

Right, self-indulgence over. Time to switch off, catch up on some sleep and reflect on a fabulous weekend. Hats off again to the organisers who achieved an amazing weekend of fun and food for the children. I just hope that this is the start of many more, as getting children passionate and knowledgeable about food is the first step to getting a whole generation of amateur cooks on their way to a lifetime of happiness. We were honoured to perform at the World's first ever children's food festival. Back to normality and recipes tomorrow....

1 comment:

kitchenmage said...

This sounds like such a blast! Thanks for sharing.