30 – Unveiling the Mole

sherlock

You’ll remember that only recently I almost caught someone who was rifling through my restaurant’s bins late at night. At the time I thought it must be the mole sent by Carotene Half, owner of the so called contemporary Italian restaurant, The Bologna Pony. And I had thought I had seen Ainsley Harricot running away in the moonlight.

Well, tonight the mystery was solved.

It only happened because Mad4Food TV broadcast my Biscuit Special two days ago, the episode which had of course not yet broadcast several weeks ago and yet Carotene Half had somehow found out weeks ago that I had, er, mentioned him in the programme. Then last night, one of my occasional regulars, Black Cab Trev, came to eat at the Sausage. He only eats here when he has done one of his early morning ‘special trips’ to Felixstowe to drop something off at the port. He never tells me what he drops off and I don’t ask (and nor, I suspect,does he).

Anyhow, Trev told me that he had seen my programme “on the box” and then he knocked me out with the following: “Not only that, Mr B, but then I remembered where I had seen your co-presenter before, Ainsley whatsisname. Right in the back of my taxi only a week or so ago. Strange it was, ” he continued, “Cos it was real late at night and I wondered who would want picking up round here at that time who I didn’t already know. Right outside your restaurant too. I didn’t think much more of it at the time, but then last night I clocked him again on your TV programme.”

Well, to say you could have knocked me down with a feather, Trevor, would have been absolutely true. I couldn’t quite believe it – Ainsley Harricot was the mole after all.

I made sure of it today when we had a production meeting to discuss next months’ programmes and I asked Harricot point blank if he had been at my restaurant the other night – and he didn’t even try to deny it. Just shrugged and said he’d been looking for something he could “get me” with. Waffled on about how he was still pissed off at me after I served him the dead-live rabbit in an earlier programme. But when I pushed him for more details he wouldn’t say anything. Until I said, “Why did Half put you up to it, Harricot? What were you doing for him?” At which point, Harricot quite genuinely turned pale and stuttered something about needing to leave and literally rushed out of the room.

So although I now know who the mole was, I still don’t really know why. Or what he was after. I don’t believe for a second it was based purely on getting his revenge on me after I made him look a little bit silly on TV. There were plenty of easier ways for him to try to get his own back than coming out to the Sausage late at night and looking through my bins.

I might have to confront Half himself.

21 – Bins and Moles

mole

I think I almost captured the mole last night. You’ll remember that we had a problem with dogs somehow getting in to our secure grounds and pissing in the snow a while back, and more recently a strange case of Carotene Half’s lawyers accusing me of slandering Half on my TV show when that episode had not even been broadcast yet. Unsurprisingly, I smelt a mole. And today, my suspicions have increased.

Last night, after I closed up the Sausage, I remembered I had to collect some papers to work on at home, so I went back to the restaurant when it was shut up. It was nearly full moon last night and so the dining room had an eerie but very bright feel. But as I was walking between the tables I suddenly saw a flash of light from outside. Intrigued, I pushed open our back door and immediately heard a crash which sounded like two of our large wheelie bins being shoved into one another.

At first I thought the dogs might be back – you might recall that I suspect Half could have sent his dogs here – and so I ran full pelt towards the bins. But when I got there, it wasn’t a dog I saw running away, but the silhouette of a somewhat portly man as he rather clumsily squeezed himself between two bins and ran towards our back fence.

But as he clambered over the fence, he caught his jacket on a fence-post and twisted round so he was facing towards me, and as the moon was out I caught a half glimpse of his face. And I can’t quite believe what I think I saw. I had of course suspected it would be Half or one of his staff, but it wasn’t. In fact, it looked like Ainsely Harricot. It stopped me in my tracks.

Ainsley Harricot? Why would he be rifling through my waste bins? He can’t have been looking for food. But my next menu maybe? My recipe notes? I know other chefs are jealous of what I achieve.

Or maybe I was mistaken. Maybe it wasn’t Harricot. But I tell you what, I am having CCTV installed immediately. And whoever you are, mole, next time I will capture you on film. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

8 – Rabbit: Head to Tail

Taking it Apart and Putting it Together Again

rabbit-slicedFor the second episode of my TV series, Christoffel Cooks, the TV company asked me to cook “something different”. As if my Roast Roadkill which I cooked in the first programme wasn’t different enough. But I bit my tongue and agreed.

I suggested rabbit, but before I could explain the full concept – not as you will have ever seen it cooked before – my co-presenter, Ainsley Harricot was laughing and scoffing that rabbit was about as different as Neapolitan ice cream.

At this point, I took the producer to one side and suggested I cook it without Ainsley being aware of exactly how I was doing it. That way, he would eat it “as a customer would see it”. The producer liked that idea.

Cue carte-blanche pour moi.

I started by making some black jelly and put it in the fridge to set. More on that later.

Then I set about the rabbit, skinning it carefully, removing the nose, feet, ears and tail and putting them to one side. Then I gutted it and fried the heart, kidneys and liver in a wine reduction. (The liver is a real delicacy!) I cut up the meat from the body, fried it with shallots and baby vegetables and minced some of it to make a tartare. Then I wrapped the fur back around the cooked meat and, along with the ears, sewed it up with invisible cotton. Before (almost) finally scooping out the rabbit’s brains and eyes, seasoning them, adding a pinch of paprika and placing them back where they had come from. To complete the effect, I stuck the rabbit’s feet back under its body, using edible glue, and the bobtail back on its rear end.

Then the pièce de résistance: you may have noticed I did not replace the original nose. Instead, I retrieved the black jelly and using a modelling knife, placed it where the rabbit’s nose had been. Thus, every time you moved the rabbit, the nose wiggled as if it was still in a Sussex field and not on an exquisite dinner plate.

Done. Rabbit: cooked and re-assembled it so it looked as good as new. Nose-to-tail eating at its most extreme. Especially the nose.

Then I served it to Ainsley.

As I said, he hadn’t been told what I was doing so he didn’t know what to expect as he tucked in. He ate the main meat, got through the offal and, to be fair to him, tried sucking the feet. I didn’t encourage him to eat the eyes; I thought that was a step too far – after he gagged on the brains. There were also these pitiful cries emanating from him every time the rabbit’s nose wobbled. Before it fell off onto his plate.

Could be interesting to see what sort of response this programme gets when it airs.

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.