Back to school

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After the closure of Kitchen Food School in Edgbaston you would be wrong to think that owner Jayne Bradley would be putting her feet up. Instead she is refurbishing a brand new space for cookery classes, which will open in April.

Jayne says; ““We have used the room that will become our kitchen before as a pop up, so we know it can work as a cookery school. It has big Georgian windows on three sides and a wood burner. It is going to be such a nice space to cook in! It also has a huge dining room, which we will hire and programme as a party space.”

The new school will be based at 122 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham.

Can’t wait till April to brush up on your culinary skills? Then get your apron on and get down to Bar Opus at Snowhill Birmingham for their Happy Monday sessions.

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Breadmaking – 27 February
A taste of South Africa – 27 March
Easter treats – 24 April
Spring chicken – 22 May
Superfood for Summer – 26 June

Classes run from 6.30pm – 9pm and cost £40 each or £160 for all five.Email
jayne@kitchenschool.co.uk to find out more.

Guess who is coming to dinner

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In a month’s time you could be tucking into a Sauce Supper Club dinner hosted by Richard Turner.

Richard is leaving his Birmingham restaurant Turners at 69 for a night and heading  back to his hometown to cook at The Wine House in Lichfield.

This special evening on Monday 20 March is part of a series of events by the Sauce Supper Club, brainchild of Jon Toovey, Director of Sauce Fine Foods and his wife Beth. The club showcases great local chefs and February’s dinner (being held tonight) features Brad Carter from Carters of Mosely.

For more information email Beth at Sauce Supper Club or to make a booking please click here.

H-Art of glass

Tickets for this event go on sale at midday today!

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‘Expanded Intimacy’ is a unique experience of culinary cocktail experimentation served in a range of bespoke glassware created by artists Nuala Clooney and Kaye Winwood, Creative Producer and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Birmingham.

During this unforgettable evening, the audience will be presented with three specially prepared cocktails by esteemed mixologist Robert Wood (Smultronstalle/The Wilderness/In Rob We Trust Ltd). These culinary concoctions have been developed to explore the sensual nature of the glassware which has been specifically designed to explore touch, taste and smell.

‘Expanded Intimacy’ will also provide an opportunity to gain insight from the artists and to find out more about their working practice and the research that has shaped this event, presented as part of University of Birmingham’s Arts & Science Festival.

Wednesday 15 March at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm
Tickets £20/18
Secret city centre location, details will be sent on booking
https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/expanded-intimacy/

Talking ’bout a revolution

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When something is on your doorstep, it is very easy to take it for granted and not make the most of it. That is definitely the case with me and Coventry.

Even though the city is only 12 miles away from where I live, I automatically think of Leamington and Birmingham as places to go out and eat even though they are further away.

It is probably the greater choice and proliferation of independent venues there that sways my decision, so I was delighted when Coventry blogger Stella Backhouse got in touch.

Stella has an exciting plan to put Coventry’s culinary scene on the map – as she explains:

“Food Covolution is my project designed to showcase independent food in Coventry and is set to launch on 3rd April. The internet-based resource aims to create a one-stop-shop promotional platform for the city’s independent restaurants and cafés, as well as food producers and specialist retail outlets.

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“Especially in the city centre, the restaurant scene in Coventry tends to be dominated by chains. Awareness of independent alternatives, on the other hand, is more fragmentary and disjointed.

“I’m not anti-chains, but to give independent food a better chance of competing with them, we need to raise its profile. Food Covolution will do this by providing independents with a place from which to shout about the fantastic food, offers and events that are already happening – and hopefully encourage more to happen in future’.

And she added “Coventry’s independent food sector is under-developed relative to other cities, so there are potentially terrific opportunities to be had here, above all if we win the City of Culture bid. A number of great new restaurants and street food stalls have opened recently. I want to support them – but more broadly, if we can generate a buzz around food in Coventry, it could be a key step towards attracting more investment down the line”.

If you have a local food business, want to support this new site, or just find out more then contact Stella on foodcovolution@gmail.com and see if we can start a food revolution in Coventry!

Converted fire engine extinguishes flames of thirst

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On Thursday I missed the launch of the Tipple Truck – a gleaming Dennis fire engine which looks stunning in its new guise a mobile bar.

The Tipple Truck has six taps and serves a selection of high quality craft beers and sparkling wines, it also lets customers pour their own drinks and pay for them with an Oyster type pre-loaded card.

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“Whilst we can of course run The Tipple Truck as a normal service bar, we believe the self-pour will be hugely popular, as it means customers can get right up close to the fire engine,”  explains director Richard Brown (right of the picture above).

“Also, because we will be selling new and exciting craft beers, brewed by small micro-breweries that people may not have come across before, customers don’t have to go straight for a full or half pint: they have the opportunity to taste them all and see which ones they like best, as they only pay for what they pour.”

Helping to source the initial beers on sale is local beer expert and cellar man, Jason Greene (ex The Victoria in Birmingham).  Jason (left of picture above) adds “I’ve been working with brewers and landlords across the Midlands for over 25 years, and loved the idea of taking the best of the brews out and about, rather than relying on people travelling to one set venue.”

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Beers and wines featured at the launch included Urban Assault, a 5% ABV American Pale Ale from Anarchy, Flatiron, a 4.7% ABV American Red from Fourpure and Glera Frizzante, an 11% vol sparkling wine from the San Martino vineyard in Veneto, the Prosecco region of Italy.

Check their Facebook page to see where the Tipple Truck will be extinguishing flames of thirst next.

Midlands round-up

I’m spending a relaxing Sunday at home catching up on the week’s news and here are three stories that have caught my eye from Warwick, Hereford and Leamington Spa.

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The Saxon Mill outside Warwick is showing off the results of a mini makeover. The former 12th century mill re-opened on 1st February back to serving popular gastropub dishes.

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They have only been open a couple of months, but I am reading some good reviews for Hereford’s latest eaterie – Madam and Adam, where owners Beth and Swav focus on fine dining small plates.

birtellis-leamington

Birtelli’s in Leamington are recruiting, so it cannot be long before scooters will be whizzing through the town to deliver their stonebaked pizzas, from their base in Clarendon Avenue.

 

New cooks on the block

Writing this blog is a great way of discovering new culinary talent. So when I heard that One Twelve Kitchen is bringing their fine dining pop-up to 1000 Trades next week, I got in touch to find out more about them.

 Who are One Twelve Kitchen?

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“We are a small collective of Birmingham based chefs.  The team includes, Neil, Sanah, Josh, Joe and Ajay – this is the initial team, we will also have other members in the kitchen during service, such as old friends or co-workers.

“Chef Neil Withers has a background in kitchens both home and abroad, and is currently head chef a Nosh and Quaff. The rest of the team members are also staff at Nosh and Quaff and have come together to fulfil the desire to produce our own food, in our own way.

Why did you create One Twelve Kitchen?

“We all have an interest in fine dining and have taken this opportunity to be able to showcase what we can produce. The ability to produce our own dishes as a team is important to us. Everyone within the team plays an important role into making sure we put 100% into our methods, dishes, ingredients, and service.

How did One Twelve Kitchen start?

“We gravitated together sharing a passion for fantastic produce and dishes. After working with amazing suppliers and seeing the produce we could work with, we decided to go for it and make it our own. Buying all our ingredients ourselves from high end suppliers such as Rungis Markets in Paris, to purchasing the finest free range meat from Walter Rose and Sons.

“We prioritise the importance of fine ingredients, ensuring that our produce is treated with the upmost respect using our skills to create fresh, simple and wholesome dishes. Our menu includes lots of meat and fish dishes including brill and beef and we have provided a vegetarian menu as well as catering for other dietary requirements and allergies too.

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?

 “As a team we have been inspired by top chefs across the world, from classical restaurants to modern establishments, we gain information and learn new things that we can then input into our style of food.

“As well as fine dining, we are also driven by the city’s massive independent dining scene, such as Digbeth Dining Club. Those guys are as much of an inspiration as the world’s best chefs, as they hold just as much importance within the city. We are proud to be part of the ever-growing dining culture in Birmingham, as we believe it is the best outside of London in terms of standard and price point.

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After the 1000 Trades pop-up what’s next for you?

“We want this to be an enjoyable and educational experience for all involved, and hope to progress the pop up further, maybe venturing out into other cities. With a young team we strive to learn and educate ourselves within the ever-changing food and hospitality industry.”

The One Twelve Kitchen pop-up of six courses at 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter runs from Monday 6th – Saturday 11th February. Tickets are available via eventbrite

Tom’s Kitchen opens in Birmingham

Less than a month old, Tom’s Kitchen is the shiny, new, opening in Birmingham’s Mailbox and fifth  UK restaurant for chef Tom Aikens.

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I went along on a Friday lunchtime with my mum to review the new eaterie. From the warm welcome, as soon as our coats were checked we were presented with an invitingly long list of wines by the glass. Like us, the other two booths and stools around the bar were all occupied by couples who looked in no hurry to move, happily savouring craft beers and cocktails.

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With an open seating area at the front of the restaurant, we were shown to a jumbo Chesterfield occupying the whole of the back wall of the interior dining area. This was a comfortable table with great views of the kitchen and bar.

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Huge pendant lights, oak cabinets and verdant green tiles soften the industrial exposed ceiling. A glass display case next to the open kitchen is also a useful reminder of the quality and provenance of the meat and game on the menu, with hanging hooks to age ingredients from pork to partridge.

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Skipping starters Mum went for one of her favourite main courses – fish and chips (£15). She couldn’t fault the light, crispy batter and juicy, firm fish. A big tick also for the triple-cooked chips for the perfect blend of crispy outside and fluffy inside. Mini pots of crushed peas and tartare sauce were as expected, the only touch missing was half a lemon wrapped in muslin rather than just a wedge to squeeze over the fish.

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Momentarily distracted by the specials board and Detox v Retox menu options, I went back to the main lunch menu  for a chicken schnitzel. The was a lot bigger that I expected, covering the plate with strips of crispy chicken pieces (£18). Less successful was the oversweet bed of caramelised onions and red peppers that the meat rested upon. I probably should have gone for mash and spring greens as sides but couldn’t resist the chips (£4).

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We’d missed starters to save room for desserts, which was a tough choice from a good selection of panna cotta, plum bakewell tart and sticky toffee pudding (to share). I tried the blackberry cheesecake (£7). The cheesecake was whipped to a light mousse and top was studded with nuggets of honeycomb and blackberries, alongside a zesty berry sorbet which was fab.

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Our waitress Nicky warned mum that her dish of chocolate and peanut butter fondant (£8) would be hot and as the blob of  vanilla ice cream melted she was able to tuck in and declare her dessert was a ‘chocoholics dream’. I had to take her word for it as the moreish pudding was devoured before I had a chance to try it!

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The second part of Tom’s Kitchen is the Deli. This is a daytime café offering sandwiches, soups, hotpots and salads in the central seating on Level 2 i.e. ‘The Urban Room’ of The Mailbox.

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With drinks and two courses each, it is easy to rack up a bill of £60 for the generous portions of gastropub style dishes at Tom’s Kitchen. I like the simple, bold flavours that show off the key ingredients and quality sourcing. I’m going back to see how the atmosphere differs in the evening and try the poached monkfish and the chocolate and peanut butter fondant which I can’t stop thinking about.

Tom’s Kitchen 53/57 Wharfside Street, The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1RE

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About Tom Aikens

As the youngest chef to receive a Michelin star (he was only 26) Tom Aiken’s father was in the wine business and Tom developed his love of cooking at an early age in his mother’s kitchen.  This interview is an extract from the Great British Chefs website, you can read it in full  here

If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
Either a Jump Jockey or I’d be in endurance sports of some kind.

 What’s your foodie guilty pleasure?
Vanilla ice cream.

 What is your favourite foodie destination in the UK?
Devon. There are so many great little fishing ports and food producers.

 Which dish would you like to be remembered for?
Well, there are many dishes that I have loved making and we all have favourites, but the first was always the braised pig’s head dish that I had all the time at Pied à Terre. And also my seven-hour slow-braised shoulder of lamb in Tom’s Kitchen

Food & Farming Awards 2017

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Do you know a great baker, cheesemaker, gin distiller or streetfood trader? Then you’ve got less than two weeks to nominate them for a Food & Farming 2017 Award!

Chef Giorgio Locatelli, writer Joanna Blythman and R4 presenter Sheila Dillon are among the panel of judges looking for winners in the award categories;

  • Best food producer
  • Best drinks producer
  • You and Yours best takeaway or streetfood
  • BBC Future Food Award
  • Countryfile best Young Farmer
  • Best food retailer
  • The One Show best cook of the year
  • The BBC World Service Food Chain programme Global Champion award
  • The Derek Cooper outstanding achievement award

 Sheila Dillon says: “We set up the Food and Farming Awards in 2000 to highlight the people who, through food, are changing Britain for the better:  farmers, shopkeepers, cooks in schools, hospitals and other public places, food producers, campaigners, market organisers, street food vendors.  People working away, mostly under the media radar, adding to the quality of all our lives but receiving hardly any public recognition.

“Since then, the awards have changed a lot of lives and helped influence food policy, both country-wide and locally.  And all that change has been the public’s doing. You have been our eyes, ears  and tastebuds in every part of the UK.  Without your nominations, your interest in passing on what you know about the best in your area, the awards would be meaningless.”

Find out more and vote (before 24 January) here