Friday, 3 July 2015

Win a Canapé Party with Mark Greenaway and Appetite Direct

Mark Greenaway and Appetite Direct have joined forces to create Mark Greenaway's Signature Canapé Collection. You and 19 of your guests could be on the receiving end of a complimentary canapé event in a location of your choosing. Mark's signature range of canapés reflect the creativity and flair on display at the restaurant and will bring fun and sophistication to any event. Appetite Direct will provide top-class waiters and all the necessary kit to make your party go with a bang and you may even get a visit from the creative mind behind the menu, Mark Greenaway! This is a great chance to win an exclusive celebration for you and your friends, work colleagues or clients, so what are you waiting for?

All you have to do to win this amazing prize is tell them in your own words, why you want to win. Creative and entertaining answers are encouraged, but a maximum of 250 words please!

Email your entry to and don't forget to include your name and contact details.

Good Luck!

Entries must be received by 5pm on 16th July and the winner will be notified on 17th July.

Terms and conditions apply - see here.

For those looking to impress their guests with Mark Greenaway's renowned food at their next event, the full range of signature canapés is now available.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

5 Questions - Mark Heirs, Owner of Highland Curing Co.

A Scots chef has recently launched a new range of cured Scottish salmon at the Royal Highland Show and is already courting interest from USA and Dubai.

Mark Heirs is producing luxury Atlantic-farmed Scottish salmon – dry cured to his own secret recipe – in a mission to promote his passion: the finest cured food.

The new venture, Stirling-based Highland Curing Co, pays homage to the ancient methods of curing with a modern twist of flavours, including gin and cucumber, whisky and beetroot and the classic cure – with five more in development.

As well as demand from Scotland and London, the company has also been speaking to a New York restaurateur and a distributer in Dubai about this new addition to Scotland’s larder.

A quarter finalist of the first series of BBC’s Masterchef The Professionals in 2008, Mark cut his culinary teeth in the kitchens of One Devonshire Gardens, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck before becoming head chef at his family-owned Callendar Arms, Falkirk until 2013.

The lightbulb moment for the business came when he saw the level of interest from customers tasting his cured salmon dishes at cooking demonstrations last year.

Said Mark Heirs, chef director of Highland Curing Co: "I was giving away the recipes before it hit me that what people actually wanted to buy was the cured salmon.

"Seeing the demand made me realise there was an opportunity to open people’s eyes to the wonders of raw food and its incredible taste and texture on a larger scale.

"We have big international aspirations to spread the word about curing so to already have that interest before we’ve officially launched is very satisfying.

"Excellent provenance is key, particularly with cured food. To get those incredible flavours, it has to be the best of the best, which is why we use sustainably sourced salmon from the Outer Hebrides through the Scottish Salmon Company.

Added Mark: "After all, Scotland is an international powerhouse for food and Scottish salmon is its biggest export so we just want to get out there and start making a contribution in Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink."

Here's Mark's story;

How did you get started?

I grew up in the hospitality industry so being a chef was the only career path I ever considered. I’ve always been very passionate about food and I’ve been lucky enough to turn that passion into a career.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Walk before you run, get to know your market once you do that, then you can start to push boundaries.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

I’m hoping in 5 years I will have grown into an international business and cured salmon will have become as recognisable and popular as its counterpart smoked salmon. Short term I’d like to see Highland Curing Co. products stocked in the likes of Harrods or Fortnum & Mason.

I’ve also very recently purchased a deli, so who knows I may have a small chain of Highland Curing Co. retail outlets of my own.

If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be & why?

My favourite recipe just now is the one which started Highland Curing Co. It's my gin cured salmon with a warm pickled cucumber and wild flower salad. I love the contrast between the hot and cold textures in the dish and its ideal for eating alfresco with something cold, fizzy and french.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

If it was my last meal I’d not really want to waste time with small talk, I’d be more concerned about the food. So as long as the person dining with me was a proper foodie that would be good enough for me.

The menu is the easy part, we’d start with something as simple as some of my cured salmon, some beluga and warm blinis. Then it would have to be some Highland Wagyu beef, ideally a nice feather blade cooked long and slow with some nice crispy potatoes cooked in Wagyu fat. I doubt we would have much room left after that for dessert.

I would like to thank Mark or taking time out to answer 5 Questions and wish him all the best for the future. Highland Curing Co is creating an online shop – – and plan to develop new lines, including meat, in the future. In the meantime you can contact Mark on Twitter @highlandcuring






Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Thornton Hall's Matt Worswick To Take on Great British Menu

The new executive chef at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa will compete in the new series of Great British Menu.
The new BBC series airs this Summer and will see Matt Worswick (27) fly the flag for Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa and its fine-dining restaurant The Lawns, as UK chefs compete to cook at a commemorative dinner to celebrate 100 years of The Women's Institute.
Matt said: "I still can’t believe I’ll be on Great British Menu. Some of the UK’s best-known chefs have competed on this show and it’s an honour to follow in their footsteps, not to mention flying the flag for food in the North West."
Liverpool born Matt, who achieved a Michelin star at just 26, has worked at some of the UK’s most high profile restaurants including Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham and The Elephant in Torquay.
The series will see Matt pitted against three other North West chefs to represent the region, before the winner competes with the other regional finalists for one of four courses at the commemorative dinner.
Speaking about this year’s brief, Matt said: "This year’s brief really touched a chord with me as my grandma was a lifelong member of the WI. Researching the brief, reading her old cookery books and designing my dishes has made me feel even closer to her and I hope I’ve done her and the WI proud.
"Even though it’s a competition and places in the final are coveted, there was a real sense of camaraderie in the kitchen and it was pleasure working alongside other great chefs."
Matt kept tight-lipped about how his performance. He said. "You’ll just have to watch to see what happens."
Matt joined The Lawns in November 2014 to improve the creativity and quality of the food at the 3AA rosette restaurant and his new menus have received wide acclaim. He describes his style of food as bold, masculine and with European influences. Dishes include venison with bolognese and granola and halibut with salt milk crumble and smoked almonds.
Matt will compete against North West chefs Mark Ellis and Eve Townson.
Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton and Mark Greenaway have all impressed in The Great British Menu in previous years, and myself and Nicola have been fortunate enough to have had all three cook dinner or lunch for us in the last 18 months. This year's series doesn't air until later in the summer but in the meantime we are both looking forward to trying the creative menu designed by Matt as we will be staying at The Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa this coming Saturday and will also be enjoying dinner at The Lawns. Keep an eye out for my review of Matt and The Lawns which I hope to have posted next week.

Monday, 29 June 2015

30 Second Beer Review - White Ale by Hitachino Nest Beer

Last year, as part of my Beers of The World Cup challenge, I tried to drink a beer from each of the 32 countries who were competing in Brazil. I struggled to source a beer from every country but still managed to drink some pretty tasty examples of fine brewing from around the globe, including a wonderful beer from Japan - Hitachino Nest Pale Ale.
I hadn't drank any of the other beers from 'the nest' since then but when we were in Wagamama in Birmingham last month, I was delighted to see that the restaurant chain have extended their range of Asian beers to now include Hitachino Nest White Ale.
White Ale (5.5% ABV) from Hitachino Nest Beer
  • Bought at Wagamama New Street, Birmingham for £4.50
  • Pours with a thin head that doesn't stick around (although I don't think the glasses in Wagamama do the drink justice)
  • Hazy golden colour, not as cloudy as a German weissbier but the Japanese attempt at styling a wheat beer is a good one
  • Notes of orange peel, coriander, clove and nutmeg on the nose
  • High carbonation
  • This is a great beer. The spice flavours come through well, with orange and clove vying for immediate attention before the coriander and nutmeg arrive on the tongue. Fairly complex in taste, the clove wins in the end and lingers in the mouth. It works well with spicy food, although not sure that I could drink too much of it in one sitting.
This is one of the better wheat beers from outside of Germany and I would definitely recommend you try it if you get the chance. You might find the Hitachino Nest Beer range at a good independent off sales but if you're struggling, you can just as easily get yourself along to your nearest Wagamama and treat yourself to some authentic Japanese food and drink.


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Recipe - Coriander, Chilli & Lime Chicken with Homemade Guacamole

Always on the lookout for quick and easy recipes, last week I spotted a recipe on the Facebook page of Olive Magazine that I decided to try out at home. All of the ingredients are things that I would normally have in the fridge and based on the end result, this will be a dish that I'll definitely be doing again soon.
  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Large handful of coriander, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  1. To make the guacamole, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and add to a bowl with the crushed garlic, half the lime juice, half the chilli, and half the chopped coriander then mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper and when you're happy with the balance, chill in the fridge until needed.
  2. To make the marinade for the chicken, mix the olive oil, lime zest, and the remaining lime juice, chilli and coriander before blitzing in a food processor or with a hand blender.
  3. Cover the chicken breasts and set aside for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Heat a frying pan or griddle and once hot, add the marinated chicken breasts. Cook for 6-8 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through.

To serve, I kept it simple and accompanied the chicken with sautéed potatoes and the chilled guacamole. The chicken was wonderfully moist and full of flavour. My first attempt at guacamole was very good although it might be worth keeping an eye on the garlic!
You could serve this chicken up in so many way, perhaps with a salad and baked potato or why not load up a toasted brioche bun with salad, guacamole and a chargrilled piece of coriander, chilli and lime chicken?