Gastropod

SELLING drinks has come a long way since Lucozade aided recovery. Last week saw the launch of a new Guinness commercial, latest in a string of superleague adverts boasting the ambition of a Hollywood movie. Guinness, starring the black-clad body and white head of Rutger Hauer, a whale and some serious special effects, was directed by Hugh Chariots of Fire Hudson. Coming in July to a magazine near you is the Sol beer campaign, being shot in Los Angeles and directed by photographer Herb Ritts. Following that out of the studios in August will be Alan The Commitments Parker's ads for Murphy's Irish Stout.

And showing until Monday, in the fifth-floor food market of Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, is the latest marketing campaign from Holsten. The lager firm asked chefs of some of the best London restaurants to use foodstuffs to create works of art 'in dedication to all things delicious' and awarded trophies in the form of gold plastic beer bottles for their efforts.

Patrick Woodside of La Semillante in Mayfair (Best Costume Design) and Bruno Loubet of The Four Seasons (Best Actress) both used the skills of the patissier to dress manikins in clothes spun from sugar.

Stephen Terry of The Canteen (Best Picture) painted a picture entitled 'A Cold Beer on a Hot Day' on a canvas encrusted with pasta, and Gary Rhodes of the Greenhouse (Best Art Direction) arranged the ingredients of his famous bread and butter pudding into a magnificent display tended by two flowerpot men.

The most radical exhibit was 'Yellow Lunch', a video installation by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of the River Cafe, which is housed in the offices of Richard Rogers's architectural practice. For this, the restaurant was filled with tons of polenta, more and more being shovelled on to the mountain as lunchtime progressed until it flowed out through the doors, leaving a baby playing in it as if it were in a sandpit.

The exhibition will be taken down on Monday, but vistors to Harvey Nichols's foodmarket should keep an eye out for the postcards depicting these wondrous works, which will be available free while stocks last.

THE ALTERNATIVE approach to beer marketing is taken by August, brewed in Moscow and named to commemorate the democratic revolution of 1991, which is being promoted on a shoestring.

The advertising campaign consists of posters featuring a plain product-shot with the slogan, 'Buy our beer. We need your money'. The beer itself tasted rather undistinguished when originally launched. Now August says it has brewed a superior version which will be introduced to the UK shortly, supported by cinema ads which are currently being shot on location in Russia.

MERCY FENTON, who works in the kitchen at Morel's restaurant in Haslemere, Surrey, made history last week when she became the first woman to win the title Young Chef Of The Year. This is the ninth year of the competition, which is organised by the Restaurateurs' Association and which seeks to dicover the culinary stars of the future. Previous winners include David Cavalier of L'Escargot and Roger Narbutt of the Dorchester. Ms Fenton's co-winner was Sion Parry of the Ritz, who won the Young Waiter of the Year title.

AFTER collecting his award, Sion Parry returned to the Ritz, where he was met by a clutch of chefs newly endowed with Michelin stars. Much of the gossip centred on the tall, dark and handsome figure of Jean-Christophe Novelli, chef at Provence in Lymington, Hampshire.

Rumour has it that Mr Novelli has decided to leave Provence and will soon move to London. He was tight-lipped on the subject, but the Gastropod has a hunch that the premises of Gavvers in Lower Sloane Street, where the Roux brothers first made their name, will have a talented new tenant before the end of June.

AT THE International Association of Culinary Professionals' 15th annual conference in the US recently, Henrietta Green was named as winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award, which is an exemplary demonstration of how to sell British style to gullible Yanks.

Over here, the book in question is titled Henrietta Green's New Country Kitchen and has been generally ignored. In the States it has been retitled A Glorious Harvest: Robust Recipes From The Dairy, Pasture, Orchard and Sea, has sold by the truckload and now received the most prestigious award for foodwriting in America.

The veteran food writer, Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, is another Englishwoman who has picked up a prize in the reference category of the Julia Child awards for her mighty tome, The Encyclopedia Of Herbs, Spices and Flavourings (Dorling Kindersley, pounds 19.99). Perhaps this will provide some consolation for the writer, who is convalescing from on operation on her knees. The Gastropod wishes Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz well.

(Photograph omitted)

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