UK/USA The Taste Winners Diary- Day 4

Its day 4 of my US trip and I have been re-reading my blog diary, some of it is disjointed and if Im honest just block statements rather than a flow of a story, but hey ho. Just for reference I’m putting this down to jet lag! Now with my excuses for any poor writing, and ramblings that make sense to me hopefully your getting the jist of what a wonderful time it is.

Today is all about the prep for the PopUp, an earlier start than planned for me my body clock is waking me at 330am and we planned to get up and out and about by 6am, ah well I read for a few hours, phoned home and dozed in and out of sleep till I heard Lousie’s alarm and the smell of fresh coffee.

The Studio Lift a great entry into the cool space we were working in for the day
The Studio Lift a great entry into the cool space we were working in for the day

We were heading out to West Hollywood to a Photo/Prop Studio which was one of Louise’s friends (Rene) and she had hired the kitchen for the day, we stopped off at the Supermarket for a few extra bits. Now I love a good food shop, its one of my life pleasures, Supermarkets not my favourite much prefer the outdoor market experience but the US version of a supermarket is pretty enjoyable for someone like me! US supermarkets are supersize in most of its deli counters, volume can supersede quality but it looks good. Some great shopping ideas though the self weigh of most products , just scoop as much or as little you need. I’ve always loved this idea and would love a shop in the UK that allows you to do this for ANYTHING from food stuffs to washing powder , green, ethical and also reduce waste, fill up your own containers and weigh and pay this its a great idea- one to store for the business brain bank.

We head through the old and original Hollywood area  just off Santa Monica Boulevard to head to the studio to start cooking, seeing many different recording studios, trailer vans for the “stars” of small screen adverts etc, Louise was saying this part of town isn’t now movie making epicentre but focussed on small shows, adverts etc . Some of the  houses are interesting as they are small ex studio workers buildings circa 1930/40’s and surrounding each recording studio site. Reminded me concept wise of the terrace rows of mining villages although the Hollywood houses are bungalows. So not at all similar- I must be Jet lagging as I’m not even making sense to myself! Ryan (Louise’s husband was telling me about the Keystone Cop movies and Charlie Chaplin moves where made in this district, so overflowing with film history).

Just for information as not sure where to put this bit: The Taste Show US was filmed at Universal City and not in this area at all, its seems its a large sprawl of sites that films, creates a vast majority of blockbuster are made. The Taste UK was filmed at the iconic Pinewood Studios and its history was documented on the walls in the corridors.

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At the studio, the Kitchen has a a great concrete worktop inspiring me that I wanted that style at home. Everything had a place and that for a cook is a happy place! We started prepping mise en place ( definition french means “put in place”, in a kitchen mise en place /miz ɑ̃ plas/ as a noun (in a restaurant kitchen) the preparation of equipment and food before service begins) a straightaway . This is a throughly therapeutic process for me , I love the chopping, prepping, sorting and cooking thats required for a PopUp or event,actually just preparing any old meal. The whole change of ingredients into new forms be it a solid into a liquid, gels, purees, roasting braising, sautéing, frying, stuffing, filling, rolling, the list goes on. I also love the fluidity of changing menus, substitution of ingredients, flavour additions, its a great process and ensure that each service no matter where it is runs smoothly. I’m calm in a kitchen which is not what Im like anywhere else in my life!

We had a lot to cook and prep for 64 diners, so all hands on deck and I started making the Nutmeg Pie dough, that delicious freshly grated autumnal scent of Nutmeg always love it and in the pie pastry its delicacy is subtle and adds a layer of flavour, ( my quote of creating 3D flavours and not a flatline 1 dimensional flavour is one that I’m proud of and is what my cooking is always about), Toffee sauce being made with LA Honey instead of golden syrup as we could only find it in small bottles and overly expensive, this substitution added a lovely floral notes to the sauce. I got my head down and just cooked- happy happy me.

Louise was getting the last minute stuff finalised, organising all the rental equipment etc a long list of to do things and was then prepping her lamb shanks and beans. Joanne her very talented friend was popping out getting last minute ingredients and equipment to and also prepping so we had enough hands. The only challenge was we had one oven and the volume of food we were doing meant that it would be late one getting everything cooked and ready but in a kitchen there is ALWAYS something to do.

Appetisers Menu
Appetisers Menu

The importance of mise en place is that you can get missing ingredients, equipment in advance and that you ensure you have covered ALL eventualities.

Without boring you of our prepping list and minutae we worked hard all day and into the evening, getting back to the apartment about 1130am for a super early start for the actual day of the event.

The only thing you do need to know is that Rain was forecast, now for a brit this is not something that is of a surprise we are used to the rain, the difference here is the last time it rained was APRIL, so 5 months ago, and the our event is an OUTDOOR experience, oh dear and that it was only going to rain on Saturday and not for another time….so see any eventuality can occur, now as we are doing the event IN the River it might mean that the event is moved away from the river which is not what we sold out on.

Heading to bed we had solutions in place a tent to cover the dining table, move the site to above the river instead of in it, it would be a matter of waiting to see what Mother Nature was going to do overnight, so to slumberland we would find out what our event would end up being!

Roll on day 5!

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