33 – TV Squab-bles

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We filmed the latest episode of Christoffel Cooks yesterday – without Ainsley Harricot, it should be said, after his latest admissions, as even the producer realised he had blown his opportunity of cooking with me – which involved me cooking game. Like most chefs, I love a good duck, a capercaillie or two, or some partridge; and I’m particularly fond of pheasant, especially pheasant roadkill as surely that is the best way to use such tragedies.

But I also love cooking pigeon and I have been serving up pigeon on my menu for many years. Roast pigeon, bbq pigeon, pigeon pie, pigeon 5 ways, pigeon wings (mmm), pigeon heart (a real delicacy) – you name it, we’ve probably pigeon’d it.

This is of course farmed pigeon – or squab to you as a diner – and we get all our birds from our local farm run by farmer Jack Spratt. Yes, I know, I didn’t believe that was his name either when I first met him but I promise you it is. He runs an amazing farm as far as I can tell, although I’ve never been there, but he seems to have an inexhaustible supply of pigeon – he must know how to breed them really well. He also seems to do it on an incredible budget as they are certainly quite cheap. Not that I’m complaining; I just accept the sacks of birds he leaves me late at night. Round the back. Where none of my other chefs go.

However, when I suggested cooking pigeon on the show, the TV company got all twitchy. Apparently, an Italian chef was recently accused of cooking wild pigeon on Italian Masterchef and nearly got into big trouble with the Italian Institute for the Protection of Animals and the Environment. And Mad4Food TV were very nervous about me falling foul of the British version. I assured them that Jack Spratt’s pigeons are all legit but then they insisted on him providing daft things like certificates of proof and allowing them to see his coops. Understandably, in my opinion, Jack didn’t let them – trade secrets and all that.

In the end we settled on – can you believe it – using pigeon from the local Waitrose. I sometimes wonder if I am selling out.


Beycope on the Moon update: I am still extremely excited about my new business opportunity where I have bought exclusive rights to owning all restaurants on the moon. However, I have to say that I am wondering where my Certificate of Ownership is? Mica O’Manna, who sold me the rights, promised me it would be with me by now. I even phoned him at his Cayman Islands office yesterday but he wasn’t around. I hope there’s no problem.