I’ve been looking forward to today all for absolute ages, as the celeb chef joining us at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival today was the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2015, Nadiya Hussain herself. Across the day, she was making a number of appearances including two cookery demonstrations and hosting the Slattery Afternoon Tea, with special guests.
Obviously, I wouldn’t able to contain my enthusiasm for any longer than was necessary, so I was ready and raring to go at her first session of the day, a Saturday Brunch cookery demonstration with recipes from her new book, Nadiya’s Family Favourites.
While we were served a tasty continental brunch, courtesy of headline sponsors Aldi, the demonstration was launched by host and compere, Gary Hirst and it immediately became clear that this was a really family-friendly session. As the host of the BBC’s Junior Bake Off, Nadiya has a lot of young fans and many of them were in attendance today.
As she recreated three recipes from her latest book – an unusual crunchy take on a traditional Spanish omelette, a cucumber and cod broth and a no-bake mango cheesecake, Nadiya explained that this was her first festival appearance of the year, confessing that she was almost relieved to be back at work after the long school holidays. I’m sure many of the parents amongst you can relate to that.
Speaking of families, Nadiya explained that her new book had been inspired by her children, as she wanted to create recipes that could be created quickly, with things that she already has in the house.
One such shortcut, was the use of crisps – vegetable crisps in particular – in place of the more commonly-used potato in her ‘Spanish’ omelette recipe (the inverted commas are Nadiya’s).
I was also intrigued by the use of cucumber in a hot dish. It’s not something I have ever done before and I must say I’m really interested to experiment with it myself!
I also really want to have a go at Nadiya’s no-bake mango cheesecake. I love mango and think the addition of mint sounds really interesting.
During the demonstration, we had plenty of opportunities to ask lots of questions and this was a brilliant way to include the younger members of the audience too – particularly as they were rewarded for good questions with signed wooden spoons. In all seriousness, if you ever find yourself in the position where you are considering attending a food fair with children, a Nadiya Hussain demonstration is sure to be a hit with all the family.
I’d said on Twitter this morning that my goal for the day was to get a selfie with Nadiya, so I hung around at the end for a chat and, of course, the all-important pic. If it’s possible, Nadiya seems even more lovely in person and this was the one time that the old adage of ‘Never meet your heroes’ did not apply.
Once I had been torn away from Ms Hussain, it was time to explore the festival proper and in amongst all of the incredible varieties of world street foods, I was also looking to see that us baking-related producers were well-represented.
I wasn’t disappointed. From pastries to churros and cupcakes to cottage loaves, the baking fraternities were out in force and it took some real restraint not to unload all of my spending money on food. I did enjoy a rather tasty cheese and jalapeño pasty from Carrs Pasties though – I have a real weakness for pasties.
After that, I was delighted to meet up with two of my absolute favourite Twitter baking chums, @Rob_C_Allen and @thebakingnanna1 – hosts of the #TwitterBakeAlong. I have known these guys for years via Twitter, so it was amazing to finally be able to meet in person – with the added bonus of Nanna’s beautiful granddaughter Maggie too! I said to Nanna, it felt like I was meeting a celebrity, having watched Maggie grow up from afar for so long.
We had a brilliant time putting the baking world to rights over some much-needed beverages, before heading off to meet up with another of my favourite GBBO alumni, Luis Troyano and former MasterChef champ and restauranteur, Simon Wood. Luis was back at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival hosting some amazing professional chefs on the chef’s demonstration stage, the Crompton Kitchen – where all of the chef demonstrations are completely free to attend!
I hung around to catch Simon’s incredible live demonstration, during which he cooked up one of the starters from the à la carte menu at his restaurant, WOOD Manchester: a pigeon, fig and endive dish.
The Crompton Kitchen demonstration stage is a really small venue, so I felt really privileged to be able to watch such a talented chef cook in such an intimate setting.
He also had lots of top tips that we can use in our own kitchens, including the importance of mise en place, how to ensure a perfect finish when cooking poultry and how to balance the various different tastes on a place.
It was also great to finally chat to Luis too, as the last time I bumped into him at an event, I was far to shy to say anything. He’s such a friendly guy and remains one of my all-time favourite GBBO bakers.
It has been such an amazing day taking advantage of all of the incredible sights, smells and opportunities available at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival and there are still two more days to go! Tomorrow, the celebrity guest chef is none other than Ainsley Harriott and he will be providing two cookery demonstrations and hosting a beer and pasty tasting. This is in addition to a brand-new event, the Sunday Club – a night of beer, burgers and comedy with two of the regions finest chefs, Aiden Byrne and Andrew Nutter.
If you fancy coming along for the day, then tickets for Ainsley’s paid-for sessions are available from the Bolton Food & Drink Festival website.
Tomorrow, there is a chance that I might be going a bit rogue and taking a wee break from the festival to meet up with some more of my local cakey chums, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see what I ultimately decide to do! If you hit the subscribe button (over on the right), I’ll ensure you never miss another post – you’ll need to hit ‘confirm’ in the email I send you too!
Don’t forget tomorrow also brings with it the latest issue of Something Sweet too! So, I’ll see you then!