Are you excited to meet Paul Hollywood at this weekend’s BBC Good Food Show in Dubai?
So is Andy Bates.
The British TV chef — known for his Food Network show, Street Feasts — is cooking at the food festival, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from tomorrow until December 19, but he’s also on the lookout for other food stars.
“We’ve got some big guns coming out. James Martin and Paul Hollywood. I get to see them backstage and ask them questions and annoy them all day, probably.”
But he’s also looking forward to meeting the non-celebrity cooks who’ll be attending the event — in fact, he’s encouraging everyone to come up, say, hello and taste his food. But please, one at a time.
“I’m doing the Supertheatre this time, with hundreds of people. Five years ago I was on a market stall in Britain. You have to be grateful. Now I’m cooking pie and mash in front of hundreds of people.”
A veteran of live cooking events, he’s still surprised by the Black Friday-like rush once his dishes are ready for consumption.
“The weirdest thing is when you say ‘who wants to eat a bit’ at the end. It’s like a stampede. Humans shouldn’t be like this with each other.”
Bates, who started out cooking traditional British dishes such as Scotch eggs and pies on a market stall on London’s Brick Lane, isn’t straying too far from his roots with the dishes he’ll be making at the show. He’ll be cooking two courses at the Supertheatre: a lamb pie and mash, and a snickerdoodle sandwich.
“I’ll be doing a lamb and cinnamon pie, a lamb ragu with puff pastry on top. Instead of potato mash, I’ll be doing a broad bean mash with feta and lemon. It’s a playful take on British pie and mash with a Middle Eastern flavour.
“For dessert, I’ll be doing snickerdoodles — it’s a soft cinnamon cookie with condensed milk ice cream. It’s no-churn ice cream. You whip the double cream, put vanilla in, condensed milk in, give it a stir and freeze it. I always make sure people can do [the recipes] and people want to do it.”
Bates has spent the last few years travelling around the world, filming for Food Network; his next project will take him to the US for a year. The chef and his Miami-born wife won the use of a Miami restaurant for a year, on the basis of their British food concept.
“I’ve just seen nothing but burgers and pulled meats and barbecue for the past five years, and I’m a little bored of it,” he says during an interview on Monday in Dubai. “I’m ready to take the fight back to the States, we’re doing fish and chips; and pie and mash. I’m ready to get back into my British food again. My travels have taught me so much.”
Bates is also open to private cooking, however (just ask him!). “I like cooking for six to ten.”
So what are his tips for a Christmas do for six friends? “I don’t do turkey anymore — I do a whole side of halibut, roasted, with a simple butter sauce and triple-cooked chips. My mum is freaking out in the corner because there are no roast potatoes.
“Steak and lobster is something I like to do [with friends], because we think we could never afford it in a restaurant. We get a big cote de boeuf [rib of beef], slow-roast it in the oven at 60 degrees for four hours, so it’s medium rare all the way through, take it out and sear it off, and serve it with half a lobster. [His pro tip: Cook the lobster the day before, then cut it in half, put the claw meat in the empty head speace, brush with garlic butter and grill it to warm it through.] Serve with some great chips and Bearnaise sauce. My cooking is quite simple; you won’t see me doing garnishes.”
Equally, “a whole side of fish, or a whole bit of fish, is so underrated for a group of people.”
For a sweet, he recommends a very simple Basque cheesecake. “It is a secret recipe, it is a mixture of cream cheese, whipping cream, eggs, a spoonful of flour and a bit of sugar. It souffles up then sinks down and it’s fantastic.”
And if you really want to make his day? Invite him over for dinner (he flies out on Sunday). “I spend my time travelling and eating in restaurants and street food, and I crave going round someone’s house for dinner. It’s funny — the crew and I are dying to go to someone’s mum’s. We always try and hint to be taken to someone’s house.”
— Andy Bates will be at the BBC Good Food Show’s Supertheatre at 3pm tomorrow until December 19. The Super Tickets for the event include entry and a guaranteed seat for a chef in the Supertheatre as well as entry to Dubai Winter Fest, Dh125-150. Standard tickets, giving entry to the event, not including seats in the Supertheatre are Dh75 (Dh35 for children over 3).