Monday, 29 December 2014

Foodie predictions for 2015

Think 2014 was a great year for foodies? Then think again because 2015 is set to be a great year for foodies like 2014 was a great year for foodies, but even better. Than 2014 was. Why? Because things will happen that haven't happened before, or at least not in quite the same way, making it one of the best years for foodies that people will be able to remember once it's all over. But it's not over yet, so here's Kitchen Person's 2015 foodie hot list for 2015.

Simply follow our hot tips for the coming year and 2015 will be your foodie-ist year ever. Unless you followed loads and loads of tips last year and it was a really amazing foodie year in which case its going to pretty difficult to top. Here's a tip. Don't follow quite so many foodie tips next year and then you'll be able to create an upward trend that, if you're careful, won't top out until say 2022 and then you'll be able to legitimately start again and keep on having great foodie years until you die of a diet-related disease. Happy New Year!!

1. Die-hard foodies are set to flock to Stamford Hill where Lickspittle, the world's first restaurant built entirely from kale and condescension opens in early Feb. Menu details are sketchy but expect small plates such as damp sausage with fermented rage alongside a wide selection of pickled waiters.

2. British supermarkets will be sneered from the retail parks and high streets by the culinary elite and driven underground. Buying a prawn ring from Iceland will become edgy, the gastronomic equivalent of bare knuckle fighting, resulting in a slew of arch, knowing and wordless magazine photo features, signalling the return of supermarkets to the mainstream, albeit re-branded as 'artisan food halls' and selling the same stock as ever, but all wrapped in butcher's paper.

3. Somewhere remote, difficult to pronounce and with virtually no cuisine to speak of is the new must-go-to foodie hot spot. Don't let the fact that its one and only speciality is served in a restaurant in Acton that's far superior to anything you'd find the native country put you off going- book as soon as you read the broadsheet double page spread.

4. Someone, somewhere will serve a de-constructed Aztec Bar as a dessert. They will have an ironic look on their face as they do it. The bill will be presented with home made Black Jacks and Fruit Salads.

5. By the end of 2015, your bill for monthly mail order food and drink clubs will far exceed your mortgage payments. You will come to your senses just before you hit the PayPal option for Heritage Carrot Club.

6. If you want to drink right then think right and get in early on the home brewed Tizer craze that's set to sweep the nation next year as part of the locavore soft drink movement heading our way from the states very soon.

7. Participate in Eat Dirt, the government-backed campaign to help address the impending food security apocalypse by encouraging ordinary families to chow down on soil from their own gardens (Londoners should ignore this tip and continue to eat in a newly opened restaurant everyday, but are encouraged to spare a thought for less fortunate provincials).

8. Drink, like, a really cool cocktail? In some bar or other?

9. From 6-14 March, Italian superstar chef Adalberto Abandonato brings his 96 course birdsong-inspired tasting menu to central London. Abandonato's cooking is so progressive that diners don't actually eat any food but are 'forced to sense the taste, texture and aroma through the chef's psychic will and sheer force of personality'. From £999 per head plus matched psychic 'wines'.

10. Condensed milk is the ingredient for 2015. Whether it's served chilled in its cute retro can as a pre-dinner drink, cascaded into soups, stews and chip pans or simply roasted over an open pit fire, this versatile and massively sweetened dairy product will add zing to any switched on cook's repertoire next year.   

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dining Decorum

I was very flattered to be asked to contribute a few quotes to this piece on dining etiquette by Jenny King, deputy editor of Conde Nast Traveller Middle East. The article appeared in the October 2014 food special edition and they've kindly given me permission to reproduce it here. You can download the whole magazine and other editions for free from the App store and you can follow the publication on Facebook at Conde Nast Traveller Middle East, on Instagram – CntravellerME and Twitter - @CNT_Middleeast.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Restaurant review: Le Soixante-Neuf

A weasel, yesterday

by guest reviewer Crispin Weasel, restaurant critic, beauty and sex columnist and editorial consultant on Middle Eastern affairs for the Mid-Wessex Times

I'm not really a fan of French cooking. Too many fancy sauces for my liking Give me good old fashioned British grub any day. But when my good friend A invited me along to try out Le Soixante-Neuf, a brand new hi-toned joint opened by our continental chums, I couldn't resist.

We wended our way down the Wessex lanes in A's open top sports car, the wind blowing through my lustrous mane, and arrived at the converted Victorian mansion set in 20 acres of stunning Mid-Wessex countryside in plenty of time for a sharpener before lunch. As we sipped our pints of single malt with brown and mild chasers, we perused the menu.

Now, I'm no cheerleader for le Française as I've said, yet I could hardly choose between the delicious sounding dishes and we ordered a second round as we umm'd and ah'd over the thrilling document we held in our hands. The 'foie gras pochés en Tesco lager value' sounded to die for and the salmon cremated in lighter fluid intrigued. Hell, I wanted to order the entire carte.

At last, we breathlessly gave our order and followed the waiter to our comfortable chairs at our linen clad table. As we sat down, we noted that the bright and airy room was redolent of a cruise liner, all wood panelling and Art Deco stuff. We sat back, sipping our apperitifs (A, a cheeky crème de menthe cocktail; me, a sambuca and Orangina dirty martini, both whipped up with élan by the talented mixologist) and admired the performance before us as the waiters moved around the room with all the choreographed grace of a corps de ballet.

As we chugged down the crisp Chablis, poured beautifully by our sommelier (who was obviously delighted when I pronounced his title correctly: 'so-meh-yay') we appraised our fellow diners. To our right, a young couple dressed in high street clobber who obviously didn't know their béchamel from their guacamole (maybe they will read this review and learn something) and to our right, a table of businessmen buttoned up in their suits and ties and more interested in discussing warhead sales targets than the quality of the crust on their bread (we of course noted it's excellence).

We had already popped the cork on a fine bottle of claret when the starters arrived, but they were well worth waiting for. If the chef is a conductor, and his cooks players in a culinary orchestra, then my armadillo fillet on a bed of roasted cactus was a symphony of flavours that danced like angels on my tongue. Indeed, it was piping hot and a generous portion too but I finished every last morsel, scraping them from the plate with the side of my knife. A's baby back ribs made for a dirty, filthy, sexy, messy, evil, Godless, serial killing, pagan Morris dance of a plate of food that had us both sucking his fingers clean.

We polished off the mid-meal sorbet without which no fine dining experience is complete. This was a particularly fine example fashioned from kitten saliva and ennui that we washed down with a slurp of the Super Tuscan we had moved onto. Then our main courses arrived and our lovely lunch was ruined. Its no exaggeration to say that they were not only the worst things we have ever been served in a restaurant, but they were in fact the worst things ever to be served in any restaurant anywhere, ever.

How the chef had managed to concoct such hideous creations from such fine locally sourced, hand grown, artisan, virginal, Soil Association certified ingredients I'll never know. My lamb's brain with chocolate jus looked like something you'd step on in an aggressively working class public park, while A's torchon of Boursin a la Lawson looked like it had been scraped off a Glasgow pavement on the Sunday morning after the Saturday night before, and then served with 'chef's special sauce' if you know what I mean.

Thank God then for desserts. You know me, I can't resist a pud and these were quite simply divine, (as was the bottle of Château d'Yquem '36 that we were by now necking back at a frantic rate). A Caramac and Softmint soufflé was heaven sent, forged by the sweat of some angelic chef pâtissier whose nimble fingers are probably equally at home playing Chopin's Ballade No.1 in Gm on a rare day off. It was ethereally light and melted in the mouth.

By contrast, A's tarte au flapjack was all crunch. And texture. And chewiness. It was sweet. It was nutty. It was the best tarte au flapjack full stop. We didn't want them to end so we ate them very very slowly and ordered another bottle of the spiffing Yquem to wash them down with.

Despite the main courses (never to be spoken of again), we gladly paid the bill over a cognac or two and would have willingly paid more had they let us. As we slowly made our way back to the car we looked back longingly to Le Siouxant-Neuf, sad that we were leaving but content in the knowledge that we would soon return.

A three course meal with wine, water and service costs an arm, a leg, your first born child and last shred of dignity.  

(Attentive readers may have already realised that Crispin Weasel, and indeed Le Soixante-Neuf are both figments of my imagination, although both are very distantly based on composites of real people and real places. This piece was written as an illustration of the worst excesses and cliches of modern restaurant criticism  for the students of Lulu Grimes's Food Writing Course, held at Leith's School of Food and Wine in London where I am a regular guest speaker in the 'art' of restaurant reviewing. Check the website for dates of the next course)   

Thursday, 20 November 2014

After the flood:Brad McDonald, The Lockhart, London

This article was scheduled to appear in the October 2014 edition of Food Arts magazine. Unfortunately, the publication folded in September so I've decided to make the PDF available here. The final touches including picture captions and last minute sub editing were not completed so please excuse the imperfections.

Brad McDonald

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Mashed: Disappointment on Death Row

At a gala hotel dinner I attended recently, the guest chefs cooking that night came into the restaurant to answer questions from the customers. Inevitably, one of the queries was 'what would be your last meal'. The reply involved large quantities of caviar, a lobster and a cote de beuof among other things. The luxurious excess of the answer was met with gasps, laughter and a smattering of applause. As a well traveled food writer, I too was asked the same question by someone at my table. My response, which I'll get to later, was met with palpable disappointment and a puzzled expression.

The last meal or death row dinner question has been popularised in recent times first by American bad boy chef, writer and broadcaster of note Anthony Bourdain (his most recent response to the question - really good sushi) and subsequently in a pair of books by Melanie Dunea called My Last Supper and My LastSupper: The Next Course. At the beginning of 2014, I was commissioned by a national British newspaper to write a last meal feature. I spoke to more than a dozen of the UK's leading chefs who offered suggestions ranging from a meal served on a beach in Thailand to bouillabaisse eaten in bed with a beautiful woman in Provence. The piece is yet to appear, although it may still do at some point, but in the meantime and entirely coincidentally, a rival paper has launched it's own Last Bites column based on exactly the same premise.

The gala dinner wasn't the first time I've been asked the question and I'm sure it won't be the last, but I've always found the fascination around the subject a little bewildering. If we're very lucky, most of us won't know that we're eating our last meal, which could quite easily be a packet of prawn cocktail Discos and a can of Tizer seconds before we're mowed down by the no 47 bus, blown up by a fundamentalist or drop dead on the loo while forcing out a recalcitrant stool (our constipation perhaps caused by a terrible diet of prawn cocktail Discos and Tizer).

And unless we're the fundamentalists doing the blowing up, few of us will be in a position to order a last meal on death row. And even if we are on death row, I'm not sure our appetites are going to be up to much, an opinion that has been reinforced recently by watching Werner Herzog's documentary film Into the Abyss and related TV series On Death Row. They make for fascinating, if harrowing viewing. During Herzog's interviews with the murderers who are the subjects of the films, the topic t of what they'll eat for their last meal doesn't come up. Mostly because these are serious films tackling the ethical issues surrounding capital punishment, but also because its a bullshit question that trivialises and demean. 

The death row cell, just a few steps away from the room where the prisoner will be strapped to a gurney for their last moments on earth is a solemn place indeed. Put it this way, it's not the fucking Ivy. And of course in reality, every death row meal is intravenous, consisting of an amuse bouche of sodium thiopenta (anesthetizing barbiturate) followed by an appetiser of pancuronium bromide (muscle relaxant) and a main course of potassium chloride to induce cardiac arrest. Maybe they get the sweet course in the next life, or maybe they've already had their just desserts.

So anyway, lets imagine for a moment that by some miracle I've avoided unexpected or slow painful death and I'm in a position to order up something tasty (perhaps I'm booked in at Dignitas before the cancer really kicks in or I've been sentenced to death for stabbing the last person who asked me what my death row meal would be). My last supper/final meal/ death row dinner would be (drum roll please), poached eggs on toast.

A poached egg on toast, yesterday (image from
OK, I admit it, my choice is partly to pull the rug from under the whole thing which I find tiresome in its predictability. I also don't like being cornered by the question which seems to have the passive/aggressive undertone of 'oh, so you're a food writer are you? Prove it' and it also begs the sort of food snobbery that's still alarmingly common among the mostly middle class food writing community. But it's also something that I genuinely crave on a regular basis, something I think I could manage to eat given the (fictitious) circumstances and something that I would find comforting in my last moments. As much as I enjoy fillet steak, truffles, shellfish, rich sauces, expensive Burgundy and poncey multi-course tasting menus, its not food I find myself yearning for that often (well, apart from the expensive Burgundy).

For food to really make an impact, it has to be simple and memorable. I recall standing at the pass of Michelin-starred restaurant, observing a lunch service for an article I was writing about a well known London chef. One of the sous chefs proudly pushed a plate my way (not to eat, just to look at. I didn't even get a cup of tea that day, but that's another story) and said, 'That's the lamb dish', as though it was a 'thing' and not just a billion disparate elements forced together in time and space by a massively overstaffed kitchen brigade of testosterone-fueled bully boys and looking like every other main course being served up in every other Michelin-starred kitchen in the country at that exact same time.

So my simple, memorable last meal would be two slices of home-made bread (any home-made bread, even if it's baked with smart price flour, instant yeast, cheap table salt and tap water will beat the living crap out of anything you can buy in a shop, and I mean anything), well toasted, spread generously with the best butter available (ideally the unpasteurised stuff Claude Bosi of Hibiscus gets from Shropshire - how's that for a bit of culinary elitism) and topped with two fresh eggs poached in a large pan of gently simmering water (you can put a little vinegar in to help the coagulation, I don't mind as long as I can't taste it. Even better, take a tip from chef Tim Johnson at Apicius restaurant in Cranbrook and use a tall asparagus pot, the long drop and rise allowing for the perfect shape to form as the egg poaches). A pinch of Cornish sea salt, a twist of freshly ground pepper and a mug of builders tea and I'm all set. I'm just not dying to eat it.       

The Butter Viking

Patrik Johansson aka The Butter Viking
Patrik Johansson has had quite a life. He managed a coffee plantation in Madagascar, prospected for gold, lived in New York and Paris and for ten years owned his own IT company. But for the last six years, he's been living in the Swedish wilderness and making butter. 'I made more money, but there was no passion, no romantic thoughts about grass and cows,' said Johansson over coffee at London restaurant Grain Store where earlier this year he collaborated on a special menu with head chef Bruno Loubet and Frank Hederman of Belvelly Smoke House in Cork.

Commercial brands aside, Johansson is the world's best known butter maker and the 47 year old Swede is unabashed about the reason for his fame as the Butter Viking. 'I guess its all thanks to Noma. We were supplying the restaurant just before they were named number one for the first time. It was amazing, we went there and had a meeting with Rene, he was the first one to buy our virgin butter which is quite different to normal butter. He saw the potential in it whereas a lot of other chefs didn't really understand.'

Johansson's butters churned at the Grain Store in London, February 2014 

Things could have turned out differently however. 'About four years ago, a Swedish chef told me he was going to London to work for Gordon Ramsay and I asked him to take samples of our butter with him. I heard nothing. I tried to call the Swedish chef but no answer. It was not until one year after that he told me he didn’t dare to present it to Ramsay because it was so different.'

So what makes Johansson's virgin butter ('Normal butter we have plastic gloves and we work it with our hands, this butter is never touched by man so it's kind of virgin and the name kind of stuck,' says Johansson) so unique?

'My grandma was a butter maker in the 40's 50's and 60's and she taught me how to make butter, but I'm sorry grandma, I do the opposite to what you might say. I've read 400 scientific papers on the subject and I have been experimenting a lot. I don’t wash my butter with a lot of water to get rid of the buttermilk, on the contrary, I want as much of the buttermilk to stay in the butter. It may not keep as long as her butter did and it's not suitable for frying meat or baking, its only suitable for the table. We want maximum flavour, not maximum 'keepability'.'

Grain Store restaurant, London

Johansson refuses to reveal the entirety of his production method but does say that he uses 40 per cent fat cream that's cultured for three days (instead of the more usual 8-18 hours) and that a secret temperature curve and precise timings are crucial to the churning process. 'If I churn five seconds too long, if I just turn my back its ruined, it turns into normal butter and buttermilk. I have to constantly watch it.'

The result is an incredibly distinctive and delicious butter; light and creamy but with a complex flavour and pronounced but balanced acidity. It makes an ideal partner to Hederman's superb, subtly beech wood smoked salmon that's served as a starter at the Grain Store meal. As well butter made from crème fraiche smoked by Hederman, Johansson served his pièce de résistance, King's Butter, originally created for a royal visit to Gothenburg by the King of Sweden.

Frank Hederman's smoked salmon served with virgin butter at the Grain Store

'We would never sell it because it takes ages to make. I came up with this idea of cream cultured for three days and salted until it sings in your mouth. I melt regular butter and add it drop by drop on the surface of the cream, wait a minute or two, fold it down gently, repeat the process 30-40 times until the cream is saturated with small pearls of butter.'

Passion is a word too easily used in connection with food, but not when it comes to Johansson. Unable to compromise on quality, he turned his back on a thousand square metre production facility when investors suggested he used cheaper cream and now commutes weekly to the Noma kitchens to make virgin butter on site.

'I hope to find a place here in London where I can come two times a month and make some butter. There are several interesting restaurants here and we have previously supplied some places,' says Johansson. 'I have to find an investor again I guess. There might be someone who understands. We make a profit, its not that much but I feel good. I just love this food business.'  

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Recipe: Lamb cake with pea, anchovy and mint

This recipe came about after a conversation with chef Stephen Terry of The Hardwick in Abergavenny about fish cakes which he makes with finely diced and sweated fennel, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and chili plus lemon zest, horseradish, tomato sauce, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, basil, tarragon and parsley mixed into the potato and fish base. My version replaces the fish with braised lamb neck and Terry's long list of veg and condiments with peas and shallots and an anchovy, caper and mint mayonnaise which gives the cake lightness as well as loads of flavour. I served the cake with braised shank and pan fried chump of Richard Briggs's amazing Shetland lamb which you can order online between September and December annually (last orders for 2014 are 29 November).

Lamb cake with braised shank and roast chump of Richard Briggs's Shetland lamb 

(makes 8 generous sized cakes)

For the braised lamb neck 
1 whole neck of Shetland lamb or 500g lamb neck on the bone
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
440ml Guinness
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
sea salt
black pepper

For the mayonnaise 
2 egg yolks
7.5ml cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
75ml extra virgin olive oil
75ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp capers, chopped
15 mint leaves, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
sea salt
black pepper

For the cakes
800g potatoes, peeled weight, boiled
150g frozen peas, defrosted but not cooked
2 banana shallots, finely diced and sweated in 1 tbsp olive oil
flour for dusting
vegetable oil for shallow frying
sea salt
black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC. Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan, season the lamb then fry in the oil until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Add the carrot, onion and celery to the pan and sweat until coloured. Add the tomato puree and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the Guinness, deglazing the pan as you go. Put the lamb into an casserole dish and pour over the vegetables and Guinness mixture. Add water if necessary but the lamb should be partially uncovered. Add the bay leaf, cover the casserole and braise in the oven for 2 hours or until completely tender - the meat should fall off the bone. Allow to cool then remove the meat from the bone, shred and set aside. Strain the braising liquid and reduce and use to make a jus or gravy.

Make a mayonnaise by combining the yolks, vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then slowly whisk in the oils. Add the capers, mint and anchovy then taste to check the seasoning. Add as much of the lemon juice and salt and pepper as you think necessary.

In a large bowl, crush the potatoes then mix in the lamb, peas and shallots, then stir in half the mayonnaise. If the mixture is too tight, add more mayo a tablespoon at a time until your achieve the desired consistency (you may need to add the full amount). You want it reasonably loose but not sloppy or batter-like. Chill for 2 hours in the fridge.

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC. Form the mixture into 8 balls then flatten out into thick cakes. Dust with flour, tapping away the excess. Heat the vegetable oil in a roomy frying pan and fry the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned (you may need to do this in batches. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until they are hot in the middle. Serve with braised or roast lamb. The cakes re-heat successfully in the oven. Serve any left over topped with an egg and some hollandaise for brunch the next day.    

Monday, 17 November 2014

Northcote food festival : a beautiful obsession

As Northcote announce an amazing international line up for the hotel's 15th annual Obsession food festival in January next year, Andy Lynes recalls chef Paul Cunningham of Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark's memorable visit to the 2014 event 

On a crisp Thursday afternoon in January, the recently and impressively refurbished kitchens at Northcote country hotel reverberate to the sound of Adam Ant. Guest chef Paul Cunningham of Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark interrupts preparations for his seven course dinner to be served that night as part of the hotel's annual Obsession festival, to re-enact the 80's pop star's Prince Charming dance routine as immortalised in the famous video. As Cunningham strides regally across the kitchen, his moves are surreptitiously videoed on iPhone, to be replayed to everyone's great amusement at the champagne reception where Cunningham will mingle with the guests while sipping a glass of Louis Roederer that's garnished with a whole black truffle.

It's a scene that sums up the joyful nature of Obsession, an event that over the last 14 years has grown from four nights to ten nights of guests chefs travelling to Langho on the outskirts of Blackburn in the North of England from around the UK and Europe to cook with chef and propriator Nigel Haworth and his brigade.

Over the years, the festival's multi-Michelin starred line up has featured the biggest culinary names in the UK including Heston Blumenthal, Fergus Henderson, Raymond Blanc, Michel Roux Jr and Phil Howard of two Michelin starred The Square who has cooked at no less than at 11 Obsession festivals. International chefs include Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, Spain (2 stars), Jacob Jan Boerma, Restaurant De Leest, Vaasen, Netherlands (3 stars) and Dieter Koschina, Vila Joya, Portugal (2 stars).

'They tried to get hold of Rene Redzepi and they couldn’t so they asked me,' jokes Cunningham, who first cooked at Obsession in 2007. 'It's always fun and they're always very hospitable. January to March we're closed so I guest chef in the winter. Its just nice to catch up with some friends - you don’t do it for the money but the PR value is priceless.'

For Haworth, who owns the Northcote group (that also includes the Ribble Valley Inns pub company) with business partner and wine expert Craig Bancroft, the hospitality that Cunningham enjoyed is a key to the event's continued success. 'I cooked at an event a few years ago and you feel like a piece of meat. You just go, cook, come away and think, I wouldn’t do that again. But if somebody loves you a bit and shows you why the area and suppliers are important to them and why the chefs should want to come and absorb some of your skills, its a great thing. I feel very honoured because so many people say they would love to do it.'

Although Haworth is a proudly British chef (he's championed local produce and indiginous dishes like Lancashire hotpot for more than a quarter of a century), the seeds of Obsession were sown in America. 'I went to the Masters of Food and Wine festival in Carmel and was completely inspired by working with some of the top chefs, the Kellers of this world, and I came back thinking, could I host something like that here? I wanted to create something where I didn’t work my absolute nuts off for December and then lose it all in January.'

Haworth describes the first event in 2001 (billed simply as a Festival of Food and Wine, the Obsession tag didn't arrive until 2006) as 'a suck it a see senario' and had no idea if the four nights that included TV chef Nick Nairn and the Newcastle-based Michelin star holder Terry Laybourne would attract any interest. In the end it was a sell out and Haworth was far more ambitious in 2002, extending the festival to 6 nights and inviting his first overseas chef, Danyel Couet of Fredsgatan, Stockholm.

Despite the good natured vibe, the event is not without its challenges. 'It was chaos,' admits Cunningham. 'My restaurant manager Daniel said its like giving birth to a horse, I don’t know how that feels and I don’t want to know how that feels but it was difficult. I wanted to give the guests a bit of something different. In Denmark I've got this tiny kitchen and we play rock and roll in there. Its nice, its fun and we can do it because we've only got 20- odd guests. But when you're doing 100 lovely guests in three different rooms and you've got to go in and present the food as well it all goes a bit...and it went 'a bit' last night. But things tasted how they should. We made all of the sauces in advance and brought them from home over here and just did the finishing touches yesterday.'

'Obsession is 10 days of 'not-what-we-normally-do,' says Haworth. 'You allow people to express themselves as best they can. You're seeing different characters, some are methodical and some are not, some are really disciplined and some are not and I think that's the wonderful thing about cookery. That's what fascinates me, when I work with someone like Paul Cunningham you see why food comes out differently, because the unorthodox reaches great heights.'

Haworth's customers evidently agree. Dishes like Cunningham's oxtail and Faeno cepe, smoked bone marrow and truffle, and Hvide Sande Turbot with pig ears went down a storm. 'The most expensive item on the menu last night was the turbot at £25 a kilo and the biggest one was 8.8 kilos. Those were maybe six days old, but you need six days with a turbot. I was sat in a Japanese restaurant a little while ago in Tokyo and we had 14 day old, week old and day old tuna. Unbelievable, it was liking eating aged game. It was an amazing experience and you can do it with a fish like turbot, you can age it and it only gets better.'

Haworth describes the administrative, organisational and marketing efforts required for Obsession as 'huge' and credits sales and marketing director Kaye Mathew for her behind the scenes efforts. 'You are a bit tired by the end of the festival, partly because of the excess night activities until about three o'clock every morning, but you are also re- energised because you've had an experience that's very refreshing. Once the cooking's over the hospitality really ignites and it's great that the chefs mingle with the customers and that's what the customers want, people are just genuinely interested in what makes a kitchen tick. We had people dancing in the aisles last night to a point where I couldn’t get the desserts out, it was wacky.'

Paul Cunningham's Obsession menu January 2014

'Keith Moon' sourdough bread and fresh Henne butter

Home cured meats, pickled vegetables
Jegino mussels and oysters, saffron and black olive

Hvide Sande turbot and pig ears

Oxtail, Faeno cepe, smoked bone marrow and truffle

Herb meringue and yoghurt sorbet

Chocolate creme, aged Keith Moon and Tuscan olive oil

All images courtesy of Allen Markey