karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
I'd always thought the idea of food programmes on the radio a bit strange until The Kitchen Cabinet came along, a travelling panel discussion led by restaurant critic Jay Rayner with four guests from the food world (writers, chefs, scientists, historians). The discussion topics are a mix of specific themes related to location and trends and questions from the audience. When a while ago tickets for Cambridge were released I applied for a ticket (the BBC run a system for their shows where people send in applications from which the audience is selected) and was lucky to get one. Knowing that they always send out more tickets than there are seats, I wanted to get to Clare College way ahead of time but was delayed by chores and a very slow bus so when I got there there was already a very large queue and when the person putting stickers on tickets came through she stopped just three people ahead of me, explaining that anyone behind the line was in the "reserve" and wouldn't be guaranteed a seat. Thankfully, I had run into Tom Lewis, a Cambridge based wine blogger, who was on the guest list and was able to get me in as his +1. Thanks again, Tom!
When the queue finally moved, we filed into a holding room where I ran into a few other familiar faces (Mark Poynton, head chef of Alimentum, and @ythos). I filled in the survey but couldn't think of a question to the panel.
Then it was time to enter the auditorium where I managed to get a reasonable seat about halfway up. After more waiting, the producer said a few words and then introduced the host, Jay Rayner, who in turn then introduced the panel: Tim Anderson, beer and Japanese food geek, winner of Masterchef 2011 and soon to be head chef of Nanban, a new ramen restaurant to be opened in London later this year; Angela Hartnett, head chef of Murano in London; Dr. Annie Gray, food historian from Ely and local hero Tim Hayward (with the best buns in broadcasting), owner and resurrector of Fitzbillies, journalist and magazine editor.

BBC Kitchen Cabinet recording

The topics discussed were as varied as new year resolutions, Japanese food and its role/reputation in the UK, what to do with leftover cheese, port and celeriac, fasting, the point of swans as a foodstuff (it turned out that two members of the audience had actually eaten swan and neither had been impressed), the worst student meals the panel had cooked, and which kitchen innovations the panel wanted to see.

There were interesting bits on the various types of miso by Tim Anderson, the fact that pork and curry were introduced into Japan by the British, or that burnt cream wasn't invented in Cambridge as it is sometimes claimed. We discovered that putting a large slab of stone (possibly not a gravestone, as Tim Hayward suggested) in your oven can improve heat distribution.

We also discovered that Wisconsinites are raised on a healthy diet of Mac&Cheese, that High Table (at old universities) isn't just the table where the bigwigs sit but also an occasion where the exchange and discussion of ideas between faculties is encouraged, that Angela Hartnett had never cooked a bad meal in her life and that some of the yet to be invented kitchen gadgets should be a mini Aga and an entirely safe to use mandolin.

All in all, the recording with pickups/re-recordings of some sections lasted about an hour which then was edited down to the half hour you heard on the radio. The whole thing was really enjoyable as there was lots of banter that will most likely not make the cut but helped involve the audience.

The programme is also available as a podcast with a few extra bits of chatter before and after. ETA: The podcast also includes bits I mentioned above but didn't make the broadcast (stone in oven, miso, Tim H's note on High Table and college kitchen equipment, parsnips, celeriac, burnt cream and the kitchen innovations).

September 2017

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