If Carlsberg made months, they’d probably make them like September. It’s been a glorious couple of weeks, with a demo at Ludlow festival, fourth place in a national cooking competition and the prospect of a brilliant weekend here in Shrewsbury.
The seasons are changing, the larder is full and life is sweet.
I met hundreds of people at the Ludlow festival earlier this month, when I gave a demonstration on the main stage. It’s a huge event with more than 20,000 foodies rocking up to enjoy the best of seasonal flavours.
The chef demonstration stages are always brilliantly supported and I got to do my thing in front of a big crowd. The woman who hosted the stage had a great sense of humour, too. She was constantly referring to my slots on ITV This Morning and at one point she told the audience: “Look, Holly Willoughby, I’ve got him all to myself.” She got a big laugh with that one.
We had an after-party with my great mate and fellow Star columnist Will Holland, who left his Ludlow restaurant at the end of the event.
As soon as the festival had finished, I was back to the kitchen to cook. I took part in the Scotch Egg Challenge at The Ship Inn, in Wandsworth, London, where I took on two dozen other chefs from around the UK.
Scotch eggs have become seriously fashionable in recent years and there are now quite a few gourmet suppliers. I’ve always been a fan. When I ran my pub, The New Inn, at Baschurch, my own-recipe Scotch eggs became a real crowd-pleaser.
So last week I drove down to London to The Ship Inn, at Wandsworth, to take part in the Scotch Egg Challenge. It was an amazing event and chefs really pushed the boat out. They come up with creations that are a million miles from the egg-sausagemeat-and-breadcrumb design that once proved popular.
The overall winner was the British Larder, which created an egg using a stuffing made from shoulder of venison. But I managed a creditable fourth – just out of the medals but mixing it with the big boys.
I created a Shanghai Scotch egg, with my friend David Parker, who is a chef. I put a fermented bean paste over a soft boiled egg and then covered it with lime leaves. I then made up a meat mix and added in some lemongrass, chilli, ginger and soy. A few whole, soy-marinaded black beans went into the mix and then I coated it in a crumb made from Panko and vermicelli rice noodles, to give it a really crisp finish. Then I added a few fish flakes, which ramped up the flavour.
There were six judges, including the editor of Restaurant Magazine and Eric Lanlard, the famous pastry chef. It was an amazing day and I was thrilled to come fourth. Afterwards, we auctioned off our eggs on eBay and between us raised more than £2,500 for Action Against Hunger.
I’ll be helping to raise more money for charity this weekend when we host the Great Shropshire Bake-Off here at Brompton. People are welcome to come along and join in the fun. The event started today and 40 bakers were competing to be awarded the title of Great Shropshire Baker. All proceeds are going to the Shropshire RCC Carers Appeal.
We’ll be open for the second day of the Shropshire Bake Off tomorrow and everyone’s welcome. If you’re reading this now, why not make a date in your diary and pop along. You’ll find us at Brompton Cookery School and it will be a lot of fun.
Marcus Bean is a regular on ITV This Morning. He owns the Brompton Cookery School, at Atcham, near Shrewsbury, on a National Trust Estate.