What a whirlwind last week was!! 24 shows in 4 days at the BBC Good Food Show and boy what a show it was. It was so incredibly exciting to get to do these shows live to a fantastic audience and often jam-packed crowd and I count myself very lucky to have been the one to get to do it.
I headed to Birmingham NEC last Wednesday night to get ready for the amazing line-up of top chefs that we had on the QVC stand. We took over a lovely big corner of the show and it turned out to be one the of the biggest drawers at the show after the main big BBC Good Food Show stage.
On the first day we had quite a line-up and it didn’t disappoint. Kicking things off we had a regular face on QVC, Masterchef star Dean Edwards. This was really nice for me as it made it very easy facing such a big crowd with someone I was used to working with many times before on The Weekend Kitchen. Dean whipped up Cranberry Eaton Mess, Festive Mulled Cider and the most incredible Braised Chorizo which I will be trying at home.
He fried Chorizo in a dry pan with garlic and fresh thyme, followed by a good pouring of shiraz which he reduced down and at the end added a squeeze of runny honey. So good! Later that morning he also showed us how to make real gravy from scratch along with stuffing balls and Christmas Pudding Ice Cream. Some of the funniest moments came from the audience’s questions – one more mature lady asked Dean how he splits his sausage which had us all in fits of giggles.
The original Bake Off Winner Ed Kimber showed us how to make Mince Meat Scones and a Buche Noel, which is a rather fancy name for a Chocolate Log, he also made Ice Cream from scratch! Ed presents KitchenAid at QVC so it was another familiar face to get to present with. His scones were nice and simple after the fancy chocolate log but perfect for an Xmas afternoon treat after a nice frosty walk.
The star of the day though came as no surprise but even we were taken aback slightly over the crowd that Rick Stein brought to us, particularly as Tom Kerridge was on the main stage at the time. Our benches were all taken and the crowd went 4 deep beyond in a lovely halo around our kitchen set.
As always Rick was charming and brilliant and made us all laugh too, I can’t remember what he said to make me laugh so much in one of the above pictures but clearly I thought it was hilarious, I think it might need a caption! Rick cooked up the most beautiful fillet of beef that melted in your mouth, he accompanied it with chanterelle mushrooms and red wine jus and it was a knockout.
Along with that he baked goat’s cheese with cream and walnuts and again it was perfection. Well you’d expect nothing less would you? We had all of the chefs doing 30 minute slots but we of course let Rick run over as there were just so many questions to ask him. We could have filled the whole hour and beyond with questions from the crowd, in fact I could have listened to him all day!
Later that day we had a very pleasant surprise with our final guest. River Cottage Forager John Wright arrived, very unassuming, very quiet and I will admit I was a bit worried about what he would be like on stage. I needn’t have worried because on stage John’s character lit up like a light bulb, a very eccentric, quirky light bulb with a naughty sense of humour! He made us cocktails with foraged ingredients and of course a whole lot of booze. The highlight was when he turned a camping kettle into a smoker and pumped smoke through his final cocktail. He had us all in stitches with his performance and the audience loved trying these crazy drinks. What a way to finish the first day!
I won’t take you through every single part of every day as my blog would be ten pages long but let me give you some highlights of all of our amazing chefs.
Lotte Duncan – Treated us to her famous Curried Sausage Rolls. They are sooooooo good and I am going to try making them this Christmas. If you search Curried Sausage Rolls, hers is the first recipe to come up, they’re that famous!
Billy and Jack – They were the runners up on Masterchef in 2016 to winner Jane Devonshire (who was on later). They were lovely and charming lads who got on so well on the show that they decided to carry on cooking together and now do regular supper clubs. They dazzled with a fabulous Turkey Ballontine and a Turkey Pastilla (a fancy wrap) with cauliflower hummus and smoked yoghurt.
Jane Devonshire – Winner of Masterchef 2016 followed the boys with a stunning venison with pomegranate roasted beetroot. That reminds me to add pomegranate molasses to my shopping list! I wouldn’t normally consider venison as we once had it when I was young and I just remember it being a really strong smell in the house. Jane’s however has changed my perception and it was melt in your mouth gorgeous.
Merlin Griffiths – Many of you will know Merlin from the TV show First Dates. He’s been a bit of a breakout star and again pulled quite a crowd, which was also possibly due to the fact he got people up on stage to drink the cocktails that he made!! He had great stories to tell about all the drinks that he made and had the audience shaking and mixing and having great time. He must have spent another half an hour after his show having pictures done with the audience.
Rahul Mandal – Winner of Bake Off 2018 – What a lovely lovely guy! We knew he would be as he won so many hearts on Bake Off for his gorgeous personality. He had no idea people would take him to their hearts as much as we did and it was such a surprise to him, so he told us during his show. He made us meringue Santa hats, which consisted of a swirl of meringue with an upright strawberry.
He then made us chocolate bark which would be lots of fun to make with the kids and grandkids. He melted milk and white chocolate and spread it onto a baking sheet then sprinkled with dried fruit and crushed peppermint sugar canes and nuts to then set in the fridge. Nice and easy for even the most basic of cooks. You then break it up into pieces of ‘bark’. He was so lovely and the audience were so happy to see him too, judging by the beaming faces I could see.
John Gregory Smith – Chef and travel journalist – Boy I loved this guy, charming fun and full of energy! John’s influence is very much middle Eastern and North African so he really brought the flavour and the spice. He made us a fab recipe for brunch, Shashuka, this is what he makes for his family on Christmas morning. It’s one of my favourite brunch dishes but his was a little different as he drizzles it with Tahini which was a really nice touch which I will incorporate in the future.
Ching He Haung – International Emmy Nominated Chef! – We had the pleasure of having Ching to cook for us on The Weekend Kitchen at QVC and I was thrilled she joined us twice on the QVC stage. She was very popular and brought another full crowd. It was so nice to have the smells of Asian cooking fill the room as she made us Hoisin Duck and Strawberry Wok Fried Crispy Wonton tacos and Five Spice Chicken Stir Fry.
As with most of the chefs we had a competition on the stand to win a cook book signed by the chef and for this one Ching asked the audience to come up with Wok puns and so many people joined in for this. Wok this way, Woking around the Xmas tree, Wok and Roll, Wok Star and so on!
Paul Kelly – The king of turkeys! Paul very kindly stepped in for us at the last minute due to Ian Haste being taken ill. He was a brilliant replacement as he is a turkey expert who even holds the record for carving and turkey plucking! He gave us some brilliant tips and explained why getting a fully adult turkey is so important and why you should get the whole bird and not just the crown, the gravy and flavour is always better.
Don’t stuff your bird as it will take longer to cook and dry out. Start with it breast down and then turn it over later in the cooking process, this keeps the juices and fat down the bottom keeping it succulent and full of flavour. Also use a meat thermometer. He showed us how to carve correctly too. The best bit however was when he had a ‘gobbling’ comp on stage. He brought up 6 members of the audience and had them first gobbling like female turkeys and the male. It had us all crying with laughter!!! The winner won one of his prize turkeys for Xmas!
Brad Carter – Michelin star restauranteur at Carters of Moseley – Brad also stepped in to fill Ian’s slots and what a treat it was to have a Michelin star holder on the stand. He made a beautiful beef cheek casserole with two cauliflower dishes, one puree and one show-stopping roast cauliflower head. His top tip was to massage the cauliflower with beef dripping and to cut out the thick stork underneath. I am trying this asap! I wish I lived nearer Birmingham to visit his restaurant!
Gill Meller – River Cottage chef, author and cookery teacher – Gill was so charming and lovely and he made an impressive game terrine. I noticed the audience for this were incredibly engaged and clearly wanted to know how to make this one at home. Gill’s take on game was, I thought, a really nice one as game has lived a natural and free life rather than one in a cage. The terrine was packed with venison, pheasant and pigeon, along with prunes, bacon, juniper berries and more.
Juliet Sear – TV Cook and star of ITV’s Beautiful Baking with Juliet Sear – Juliet is a little pocket rocket of energy and a face we have had on QVC many times before. She made us a show stopping dessert in the form of a meringue wreath. It’s a fabulous way to make an impact on Christmas Day. It’s one that you can prep before and then finish off with cream and fresh fruit right before you serve. She even dipped the berries in edible gold sparkle to make it extra pretty.
Phew I think that’s everyone! A lot of these recipes you’ll find online if you google the chef with the dish. We had such an amazing time at the show and one of my favourite things was to meet so many QVC customers. I heard their stories and had pictures and got to hear about their favourite products on QVC. It made it feel extra special to meet them in real life so when I am on air I can think about actual faces and people rather than just looking at a camera. I do hope we get to do shows like this more often in the future.
I want to thank all of our QVC team for working so hard. We had a second stand where you could try and buy so many treats like Joe & Seph’s popcorn, Gower Cottage Brownies, Hotel Chocolat and Raisthorpe Manor Vodka. Both our stands were constantly busy which was great to see and our Marketing and PR team didn’t stop throughout the day.
Particular thanks go to Abigail Perry who pulled so much of the show together and to Tracy Holmyard who also worked her socks off before the show to make it smooth sailing but also during the show behind the scenes as my producer/mother during the whole thing! Also a big thank you to photographer Steven Peskett who got a lot of the incredible pictures, some of which are included in this blog, particularly the Rick Stein pictures.
Outfits I wore during the show that are still in stock are –
Today’s Special Value – Elemis Pro-Collagen Definition, Lift and Redefine 4-piece Collection
Well I bet some of you thought that was it from Elemis for this year after their incredible sell-out TSV last month? Well they’re back today with another fabulous offer! This kit includes the incredibly popular Pro-Collagen Definition Serum, Day Cream and Night Cream. Not only that but it has my favourite Micellar Water too. Here’s the breakdown of what you get…
1 x Cleansing Micellar Water (200ml) – a clarifying micellar water, formulated to effectively remove make-up and the daily build-up of skin pollutants to help reveal a clear, radiant complexion. Perfect for a quick cleanse morning and night, or the first step in your double cleansing routine
1 x Pro-Collagen Definition Face & Neck Serum (15ml) – a hydrating serum that helps to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, promoting skin elasticity and reducing the appearance of uneven skin tone
1 x Pro-Collagen Definition Day Cream (30ml) – works to plump and tighten the appearance of the skin, for a more radiant look. Formulated with sweet iris, Chinese hibiscus and arjuna bark extract
1 x Pro-Collagen Definition Night Cream (30ml) – helps firm the appearance of the skin. Contains a blend of gardenia, arjuna and lupin
1 x silver zipped cosmetics bag
Find out more on our website but do tune in tonight too when I will be joining Keeley for a whole hour at 10pm. There will be lots of treat in store no doubt.
Thanks so much for reading my blog this week. I hope you are all starting to enjoy the festivities and have lots of lovely things planned. Or if you are just enjoying a chilled December then I hope it’s a relaxing one!
Lots of love