The old joke which asks the question: ‘What would you call Postman Pat if he was made redundant?’ came to mind as I watched TV last night.
Of course, the answer is ‘Pat’, but on the basis of what I saw on Country Show Cook Off, the canny postie from Greendale could easily start a mobile burger business from the back of his little van.
After all, that is exactly what the professionals were doing in last night’s first of a new series. Each night for a week, celebrity foodies are pitted against each other to create tasty treats for country shows up and down this land in a cute little van – and ultimately win a rosette or two.
Narration is provided by the annoyingly gurning Ainsley Harriott. He was almost bearable last night – mostly because all we had to put up with was his voice.
For the first mission of their week, celebrity Soho chef Ed Baines and highly regarded food-writer Valentine Warner visited Otley, a small market town just south of the Yorkshire dales.
And once they had acquired their ingredients, it was back to the cute red van to prepare and cook. But what was that van?
The Citroen HY is a light truck/delivery van produced by the French car maker between 1947 and 1981 – and I’d love one. For those of you who don’t know the HY, ask any four-year-old to draw you a van and the chances are it will look pretty spot on. Oh yes, this is design at its simplest – much like Postman Pat’s funky little vehicle.
As the chefs made their way through Yorkshire, marking the start of this food odyssey, Baines comments: “My other car is a Lamborghini,” as the cute van bounced dramatically along our pot-holed highway.
Any way, I’ve digressed enough. This, after all, is supposed to be a top food show, not Top Gear.
Last night the chefs were asked to enter the savoury roulade category at Otley’s prestigious event.
Ed and Val made their way to the centre of the Saxon market town.
So as Valentine got to grips with making traditional parkin, his cohort hit the traditional fruit and veg stalls, with rhubarb and beetroot on his list.
Parking up in a field, the converted van comes into its own as a kitchen. Okay, its not the most glamorous Transformer ever created, but Optimus Prime can’t cook – at least I don’t think so.
As Ed assembled his smoked salmon and courgette roulade with veggie chutney, Val’s odd creation took shape. Mr Warner’s field greens roulade included ingredients such as spinach, wild garlic and nettles – yes nettles. Combined with brown shrimp, I think the smoked salmon version looked more me.
And all the time the dishes were coming together, I couldn’t take my eyes off the little red van.
With all the groundwork done, how would the boys’ roulades fair in the category? Enter the judge – an aptly named Mr M K Pickles.
Otley Country Show’s very own judge Pickles was introduced to the viewing audience with dramatic music and much mystique – until he opened his mouth that is. The uber-serious judge’s face is somewhat let down by his squeak of a voice. But, with countless wins under his belt, who better to pass judgment?
In the end, the chefs were beaten by retired local magistrate Pamela. In fact, Ed came nowhere. Valentine was at least awarded a third place – and £2 in prize money.
Pamela, who won 15 prizes in the 23 categories she entered, was understandably chuffed. As much as Baines tried to hide his displeasure, he was visibly miffed.
Returning to the sanctuary of the Citroen, the chefs prepared to continue their road trip, heading for another country show – and the opportunity to become top dog in their Top Gear van.
Country Show Cook Off continues at 6.30pm.