Meemalee's Kitchen at The Wild Garlic
1 October 2010
I'm staring at the biggest box of onions I have ever seen in my life. And all I can think is, "Oh boy".
About six months ago, I was chatting on Twitter, when someone asked me for a Burmese restaurant recommendation. I mentioned Mandalay as being the only place I knew of, and then someone else jumped in and asked if I'd do a Burmese night and cook for people.
The next thing I knew, Mat Follas, the chef and owner of The Wild Garlic and winner of MasterChef 2009, tweeted to me, "Why don't you come and cook Burmese food at my place?"
I am not a chef. I had never been in a professional kitchen. So I did what any normal person would have done in the circumstances, and I rang up my friend Kavey and screamed at her in excitement,
"Oh My God - is he joking? I'd love to do it. Do you think I can do it? What the hell should I say?"
Kavey is infinitely more sensible than me, and she said to me, "Play it cool and say yes".
So I said yes. Fast forward to October, and I'm on a train to Dorset with my husband and a suitcase full of century eggs and a rucksack full of fish balls.
This little video will tell you how it went
It was and is the biggest thing I've ever done, and probably the coolest.
At one stage, I was hefting great stockpots of curry down the windiest, creakiest, most precarious stairs from the upstairs prep kitchen to the restaurant kitchen, and my only thought was how much fun I was having.
Although initially panicked by having to work out quantities and timings, and the number of dishes on my menu, I'd done all the prep, and I knew that I had a full team behind me, supporting me all the way.
Then the diners started arriving and it was show-time. Service itself was frantic, but wonderful, and passed in a mad, lovely blur.
My right-hand man was the lovely Terry Ireland (a semi-finalist in this year's MasterChef), but everyone, both front of house and in the kitchen, was absolutely fantastic.
Green Bean Salad, Century Egg Salad, Fish Ball Salad
As the night went on, seeing empty plate after empty plate come back was an amazing thrill.
At one point, Mat came into the kitchen and said, "There's a dairy farmer out there who says he will give up beef for your Cinnamon Chicken".
I thought I'd burst with delight and excitement.
And then at the end, when I was knackered and flustered, Mat dragged me out to the diners and the whole restaurant applauded.
Tired though I was, suddenly I felt my heart singing with happiness.
I thought to myself, "God, this must be what it's like being on MasterChef", and I finally understood why people become chefs for a living. I was almost tempted myself.
The icing on the cake was when Mat gave me a proper Furi chef's knife when I left to say thank you.
Anyway, Burmese Night at the Wild Garlic was an absolute blast, and I think I will definitely do it again if there's interest - and this time a bit closer to home.
And all the recipes, including the one for Cinnamon Chicken, will be in the Burmese cookbook which I'm currently writing - although I haven't got a deal yet - hint hint to any publishers that come across this ...
Talking of thank yous, it wouldn't have been possible without the following people, so thank you so much to Mat Follas, Amanda Follas, Gill Anstey, Terry Ireland, Charlie, Sophie, Katy, Shannon, Tash, Zoe, Jen, Georgie, Steph, Emma, and Annie at The Wild Garlic.
Terry and me
Thanks also to Will and Tom at delicious. Magazine for helping with prep.
Lastly thank you to Nick Tett Family Butchers, Fruit 'N' Two Veg, and Davey's Locker.
BURMESE NIGHT REVIEWS:
Certain photos copyright Kavey Eats, Lost in the Larder, The London Foodie - click the photos to see the photographer (thanks guys)
Film by Simon Stirrup. Music by Tom Phillips and Simon Stirrup.
Burmese Night at the Wild Garlic
Matpe Bean Fritters
Charred Tomato Salsa
Wood-ear Mushroom and Bean-thread Vermicelli Soup
Fish Ball Salad
Century Egg Salad
Say Bè-Oo Thoh(k)
Green Bean Salad
Mogok Pork Curry
Tomato and Coriander Prawns
Straw Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Baby Spinach
Burmese Coleslaw, Shrimp Relish
Gorbee Thoh(k), A’Ngun Jaw
Coconut Sorbet, Tapioca Milk, Brioche
Mohn(t) Le(t) Saon
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