Saturday, 22 September 2007

A day with the Masterchefs

A few months ago I was put in contact with Steven Wallis who won the last series of Masterchef Goes Large and yesterday I met him for Dim Sum at the Royal China in Bayswater. We're both moving from the world of brands to the universe of food so it was great to hear how things have been going for him since winning the show. He's a really down-to-earth guy and is full of encouragement for what I'm trying to do and has even offered help if I need it along the way. It sounds like he's got loads of projects on the go and has just come back from a stint at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. Hopefully I'll see more of Steven in the future...

Pages on Shaftsbury Avenue is my favorite catering supply shop so I dropped in to pick up a few bits I'm in need of. I always go in there aiming to buy a couple of things but end up leaving with bags of kit, even though I have no more space in the kitchen to store them! Yesterday I went in for a flan ring but left with a silicone baking sheet, stopwatch, loaf tin, and some measuring spoons. Pages is to me what Top Shop is to Emilie - I get this weird rush when I'm in there, wanting to buy new crockery, moulis, mandolins, and of course knives. Inevitably I use the stuff I buy on rare occasions, usually because I buy flan rings big enough for feeding 8 people and it's rare that we have that many over for dinner.

Later I met friends for dinner at Wahaca, the new Mexican "Street Food" restaurant in Covent Garden. Wahaca was recently launched by Thomasina Miers who was another previous winner of Masterchef. We had tried to get into the 140 seater restaurant on the Thursday of opening week only to be met by a 2 hour queue for a table - and that was at 7pm! This time we were there at 6.30pm and managed to secure ourselves a large table without any hassle.

During our trip to the Yucatan earlier this year, we had some fantastic street food away from the tourist drag in Playa del Carmen. No noisy macarena bands blowing their horns in my guacamole or offering "romantic" songs to my senora. Instead we binged on lovely tacos and quesadillas full of Mayan fire. We would stuff ourselves for about £10 and then roll back to the Hotel Basico to collapse . Seeing this kind of food on the Wahaca menu brought back some great memories so I was looking forward to seeing if London could really deliver authentic Mexican street food.

The food at Wahaca is simple and tasty and at about £30 each including a fair few drinks, it's pretty good value too (although still 6 times the price of the same food in Mexico!). It's been getting mixed reviews but I'd recommend it as a great place to line the stomach before a big night out on the town.

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