33 – TV Squab-bles


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.

22 – Why I Should Replace James Martin on Saturday Kitchen

James Martin at the Good Food Show Winter 2014So James Martin has left Saturday Kitchen – adieu, James, we loved watching you – which means that the BBC will need a new presenter. As such, I would like to put myself forward as the leading candidate. I mean, why would you look any further:

  • I have been presenting my own TV show, Christoffel Cooks, on Mad4IT TV for, well, ages now. (Admittedly, Ainsley Harricot has been helping but, well, he’s not really SK material is he).
  • I am the creator and chef for such culinary classics as The British Rail Experience, New Forest Foraged Ant Legs, Roast Roadkill and the World’s Most Expensive Fish Fingers.
  • I also cook the classics – witness my Simple Crème Brûlée which no-one else seems to serve nowadays – and controversial food such as Guinea Pig (where the customers can choose their own cavy to be cooked).
  • And as per my biog, I did my training with Jamie’s Olives co. and model my restaurant on Heston Services.

But above all, my cooking and I are unreal. I think you know what that means.

I await my invitation from the Beeb.

15 – Biscuits

TV biscuits

In the latest episode of my TV series, Christoffel Cooks, the TV company asked me to bake a cake. I almost choked on my suckling pig. Who do they think I am – Delia? We compromised on biscuits and we agreed I would cook 6 variants. But in the Smoked Sausage way.

This is what I cooked:

  • Squashed fly biscuits – not Garibaldi biscuits, real squashed flies. Flavoursome.
  • Butterfly wing biscuits – beautiful chocolate & sugar work that emulates a small brown butterfly landing on them. (Obviously not real butterfly wings… really…)
  • Pigs’ blood ‘jammy dodger’ biscuits – it gives them a wonderful crimson hue and a real kick.
  • Doggy biscuits: same ingredients as other biscuits but shaped as bones. Good one for parties.
  • Plain biscuits. Well why not? Shows the true contrast of the other variants. And proves I can bake a better biscuit than Delia any day.
  • Real Pony-and-trap biscuits not from Bologna.

The ‘Real Pony-and-trap biscuits not from Bologna’ were my final serving of the day (a red and green fusion) and, I would like to say, were not intended to cast any sort of aspersions on any other restaurant near mine. I mean, would I say that biscuits baked in another restaurant were a right pile of pony? Come on…

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.