6 – The Bologna Pony

BolognaPony1About 5 miles up the road from The Smoked Sausage is another restaurant: The Bologna Pony. It is owned by Chef Carotene Half and I think he has it in for me.

As you might guess, Carotene sells modern Italian food: think alternative cuts of meat, risottos and pastas with challenging accompaniments. He has Italian art on the walls and Italian Jazz music in his dining room. Disappointingly, I have to admit his food isn’t bad. I visited it once, last year, in disguise. (Red-hair wig, Zapata moustache, thick Irish accent – I don’t think anyone could have known it was me).

Carotene lives with his wife and mother-in-law. And keeps his mistress next door. Very twenty-first century. He is loud, expressive and, I am told, very charming. One of my regular customers told me that he visited The Bologna Pony just at the time Tyger Wood was caught playing away, and Carotene said to him: “Ah, that Tyger Wood, he is mad! Why does he want to cheat on his wife? I mean, look at her – she is beautiful. Now, if she was ugly then I would understand…”

As I said, I don’t think he likes me. I am sure it was him who reported me to the health inspectors at my previous restaurant. However, there are also rumours that Half has a “Family” connection so I need to be careful. I only want to find a dismembered horse’s head on my dinner plate – not in my bed.

However, all that said, I got home tonight to find a message from him on my answer machine; but it’s too late to call now. I wonder what he wants?

2 – Roast Roadkill

My PR Manager doesn’t think my first TV programme went well. Something to do with the dish I cooked. She says I chose badly. I chose it especially because it is one of our key dishes which shows what the Smoked Sausage is all about: Roast Roadkill. It’s ethical, fresh (in a dead sort of way) and extremely sustainable. One could even say it’s compensating for all the cars on the road which are causing all those deaths. (Carbon offset?) They’re the ones those animal rights lot should be complaining about: those careless drivers – not the chef who uses the by-product. It’s already dead, people!

What I will say is that, unfortunately, I hadn’t got the best cut of roadkill for the programme – I was hoping for pheasant, deer or even badger. In the end I had to settle for half a fox (don’t ask what bits I could use) and what is best described a slice of ‘pie. Magpie. But I did add cats ears as garnish. One of my personal favourites.

Sadly also, the hot lights in the TV studio, and the time it took to make the programme, meant that the smell wasn’t the usual perfume of meat and veg which I serve up… And, okay, we did have to cut the bit when a maggot crawled out of one of the saucepans. But hey – this is what you get when you practise cooking on the edge. What did they expect? Gary bloody Roads? (Isn’t that what I gave them anyway…)

I have to say that Ainsley was quite the professional – laughing all through the serving, well, most of the serving, and slapping “my” fake sous chef on the back as he tasted the food. He wasn’t smiling so much when he tasted it himself – his face indicated that he was quite taken aback at the flavours I got out of the fox.

Then one of the cameramen was sick on the producer’s shoe, and one of the make-up girls refused to make me up after lunch and someone forgot to check Ainsley was okay after he seemed to choke on the maggot, so we had to wait for him to get back to the studio floor. Honestly, if this was the States then they would be quite calm about all this. Deer, moose, bear, elk – it’s all eaten there. If you find it on the road, eat it.

And if it was a David Attenborough programme and you saw another animal eating it then it would probably win a frickin’ bafta.

I hope they still commission the second episode. My PR manager isn’t so sure.

1 – Christoffel Cooks

Auditorium on shooting of television show

So I thought it was about time that I started my blog. Especially as this week, as I’m sure you know, I have a new TV show starting on Mad4Food TV channel: “Christoffel Cooks”. And “I’m pumped” about it, as my ex-sous chef would have said before he had to go back to East Jersey Penitentiary. (He had told me that was the name of a trendy New York eating house he had worked in when he applied at my restaurant; I should have known better when I saw the knives he was carrying. Still, you live – just – and learn. And my head waiter’s scars are healing now so that’s okay).

I had hoped that they would film it here at The Smoked Sausage but apparently our kitchen is too small. I told them it was a decent f****** size but evidently not if you need to have a TV director, two cameramen, sound engineer, make-up girl, runaround-boy or something like that, and various hangers-on, and then – minor point – my brigade as well. So we’re filming it at the TV studio where it will be made to look like a restaurant. But with other people as my brigade, and not my real staff! Finding that hard to swallow.

Not that I really mind. Other than the 24 mile round trip between the Sausage and the TV studio. The 5:30 am alarm call. The 5 hour filming. (5 hours! Can you believe it. For a 45 minute program. Less with the ads). And all the make-up which I have to take off before coming back to my restaurant or suffer humiliation in front of my staff. Apart from my Head Waiter, Gordon, who I think would be quite impressed by it.

At least the company pays for a taxi. Not that the bastard taxi driver had heard of me. “Christoffel who?” he had said when he first picked me up for the pilot. “Beycope,” I replied curtly, “as in the famous chef.” The driver sniffed. “Sorry, never heard of you, mate. Though I did have that Jamie Olivier in my taxi once. Fat geezer he was. Much fatter than he looks on the telly.”

I consoled myself with that.

Oh, I suppose I should also mention that Ainsely Harricot is on Christoffel Cooks as well. The TV company said they wanted a big name too. I hope Ainsley isn’t too pissed off that he isn’t thought of as a Big Name.