It’s not often that one spends the afternoon at Number 10, but yesterday I was lucky enough to do just that. As soon as the invitation landed I was in a whirl of excitement.
After all, who wouldn’t be delighted to spend some time in Downing Street with more than 150 top British chefs, restaurateurs and food producers. In fact, as I arrived I spotted so many Michelin-starred chefs that I began to wonder if there should be a collective noun for them. I wondered about a roulade, a fricassee or indeed a gratin.
The event launched VisitBritain’s Food is Great, a key element of its GREAT campaign in partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).
It was a thrill to see Prime Minister David Cameron and to eat delicious food cooked by Brett Graham of the Ledbury, which is absolutely my favourite restaurant in London. The canapes were delicous and it is now my greatest ambition to track down the recipes.
I also met a huge number of AGA owners, all of whom loved their cookers, including the lady who cooks at Downing Street. She confided that she has cooked for the past five prime ministers, something that left me rather awestruck. I find cooking for Lord AGA and the smalls tricky enough, so imagine what it must be like to whip up an omelette for the man with the top job.
The event was a precursor to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, which took place last night at London’s Guildhall. It was great to see Britain had three within the top 15 – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at number four, The Fat Duck at 13 and The Ledbury at 14. It all goes to prove the UK is rather good at nurturing great chefs.
I’m not sure I’m allowed to tell you this, so I’ll whisper it terribly quietly… As I was leaving, I was given a secret mission by the team behind the GREAT campaign. All my life I have waited for a tap on the shoulder from a representative of Her Majesty’s Government (I’m a huge fan of Spooks and have long felt I would serve my country well in that sort of capacity) but this mission is one I could never have imagined. Watch this space as I am sure to let a few more hints drop over the coming weeks…