While working at the Good Food & Wine Show I had the opportunity to prep for some celebrity chefs – names which included; Australian Chef, Bill Granger, renowned South African Chef, Franck Dangereux, Drizzle and Dip’s Sam Linsell and Jane – Anne Hobbs aka Scrumptious, to name but a few. Not only did I assist with all the preparation of ingredients required for their food demonstrations but I got to assist the guests by cooking with them, whilst the demo was underway. How it worked was, the public could purchase tickets to cook with Bill Granger or Franck Dangereuxr or whomever. Limited tickets were available as there were only 8 work stations per demo, 2 people sharing one work station which equated to 16 people cooking with their celebrity chef or favourite cook. Each of these groups of 2, were assigned a student (enter yours truly), to assist them and ensure that they keep up with the Chef demonstrating up front on the stage. It was a lot of fun to be able to partake and of course to meet these well known chefs and foodies alike.
Amongst all the Chef’s and cooks I encountered over that 3 day period, I found myself most drawn to and most inspired by Jane-Anne Hobbs. Who, until that day I had not heard of. The immediate like to this renowned foodie started before even meeting her, whilst reading her instructions and prep notes that accompanied her recipe, while in the kitchen preparing for her demonstration. She was so thorough in describing exactly which ingredients each of her guests would require in order to successfully follow and carry out her recipe, she was also so thorough in outlining the equipment each guest would require, and upon arrival, had even brought some of her own personal equipment just in case our kitchen was not properly stocked. Her notes left no grey areas and I thought to myself, if I was in her position, this is exactly how I would have documented my needs too – not leaving anything to chance. Then on reading the ingredients to the recipe – chicken, bacon, cream, mushroom, beer …. It was love at first sight, as this was my kinda cooking!
During the actual demonstration, Jane–Anne commanded the room, spoke clearly, did not rush through the recipe, ensuring all her guests where up to speed before moving on to the next step. Whilst demonstrating she shared some valuable tips with guests, which I really value, as I really do believe that good cooking all comes down to knowing the tricks of the trade. One such example, which she shared, and which I have used since – Green Beans – we all know how boring and time consuming it can be to top and tail green beans right? Well, Jane-Anne showed us how if you take a packet of Woolies (*mothership) green beans – label side facing up – push all the beans to one end of the bag, holding tight with your opposite hand onto the body of the bag and using a sharp knife in the other hand, cut through the bag and the beans and take off the top ends of all your beans in one easy swoop. Then simply push all your beans down to the other side of the uncut bag and repeat the process and VOILA – trimmed beans in 1 minute instead of 10! She shared a number of other handy tips but the 2 guests I was assisting were keeping me so busy I couldn’t listen as intently as I wanted to (Note to self: buy tickets for the Chef’s in Action Theatre at the GF&WS this year).
I’ve been following Jane –Anne’s blog ever since and received a copy of her latest recipe book “Scrumptious” Food for Family & Friends, in my Christmas stocking from hubby. I’ve drooled over all the recipes and tested a few out already, all of which did not disappoint. Included in the book is the recipe she demonstrated at the GFWS – “Chicken with Cider, Bacon and Mushroom”. This recipe is also available on Jane-Anne’s blog.