The Truffler: Focus on Food Campaign, Leeds Food and Drink Festival, Kitchen Confidential, National Vegetarian Week

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Fresh from winning a Glenfiddich food and drink award for its fabulous pantechnicon cooking bus, which opens out into a fully equipped teaching kitchen, the RSA Focus on Food Campaign brings the bus to Battersea Park in London on Monday to launch its TasteBud Challenge. It's the start of a week of raising awareness of the campaign's mission to bring food education to schools, and on Thursday the bus arrives in Halifax, West Yorkshire, for invasion by more schoolchildren. As baking is the first brush with cooking for most of us (apart from adding milk to Angel Delight), Focus on Food Week is encouraging schools to get involved in a Let's Bake It project. Anyone interested in taking part can download information from www.waitrose.com/ focusonfood; call Lucy Burns on 01422-383 191 for more information; or send a cheque or postal order for £1 and their address to Design Dimension, Dean Clough, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX3 5AX. More than 9,000 schools have already requested Let's Bake It materials, which are available to all schools. Get involved and the next generation might learn cooking in school again.

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Leeds Food and Drink Festival has drummed up Brian Turner and Sophie Grigson as its star turns. Information about events can be found on www. leedsfoodanddrink.co.uk. Hansa's vegetarian Indian restaurant (0113-244 4408) is an enthusiastic participant and has a Sunday buffet tomorrow and discounts on dinners later in the week. Gueller (0113-245 9922) has a celebratory dinner for £30 a head on Wednesday, and a two-course lunch and early-bird menu for £10 until the end of the week. Harvey Nichols' Fourth Floor (0113-204 8000) has its big night on Wednesday, too, with three of the group's chefs cooking a six-course dinner for £50 a head.

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New York based chef and author Anthony Bourdain has been touring Britain to promote the paperback publication of his visceral and literate account of the darker side of cheffing, Kitchen Confidential (published by Bloomsbury). And it's worked; the book is now on the best-seller list. He's also been travelling further afield, eating the still-beating heart of a cobra for his next book, out in time for Christmas (mmmm, Delia, beware), and making a television documentary series on his pursuit of unmentionable edibles. As much as his sandwich-grabbing schedule allowed, Bourdain got to try some of the more palatable British delicacies, and he complimented the restaurant scene. "London is already viewed by chefs in New York as a new culinary capital," he said. "There are many second-generation chefs who came out of the Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay academies – I run into them all over the world." As well as Gordon Ramsay, he's a great admirer of the eat-every-part-of-the-beast philosophy (as every good carnivore should be) of Fergus Henderson, the chef at St John in London. Other good signs? "When sushi takes off in the UK – it changes the whole scene in America." Bad signs? "All that crap, fake Mexican food." Bourdain's filleted summary, exclusively for the Truffler: "These are good times to be eating in the UK – and it will only get better." The French should start worrying.

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The omnivorous Bourdain has left the country just in time, and it is only with a certain ennui and sense of duty that I feel I should inform you that National Vegetarian Week begins on Monday. It's the ninth year that veggies have claimed a week for themselves, and shouldn't make any difference to existing "meat avoiders". But, please, veggie-bandwagon-jumpers, don't try to persuade us to renounce meat by buying meals that mimic flesh, especially by calling them "meat-analogue products". Safeway is boasting about the lamb and mint-style steaks, vegetarian garlic Kievs, vegetarian chicken-style cheeseburgers and meatless frankfurters that can now be found in its freezer section. If you must go veggie, try a trip to a greengrocer instead. To find out more about the Vegetarian Society, visit www.vegsoc.org/nvw or call 0161-925 2000.

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