48OE Blog  
Aug 15

Written by: 48OE Admin
15/08/2011 09:35  RssIcon

Food has always been an interesting subject. Most showground catering is not the best. There are exceptions but they do not generally turn up at Land Rover shows. We do not really have a 'green' or hippy wing. This is our loss as their food is generally vastly superior.

We soon realised that living on chips and over cooked burgers for three days was not possible. As a result we started catering with a heavy influence from our hero Jamie Oliver. At the start several of the younger staff rebelled and would only eat chips and burgers. This seemed rather strange as they had complained about the food in the first place!  One lad brought a bottle of whisky with him and from what I could see, along with smoking, this was his only calorific intake. There were quite a large section of smokers that could not sit around a dinner table without getting up every five minutes to go and chat behind the trucks and indulge in their Marlboro habit.

We had such a long list of 'I don’t eats' that even burgers and chips seemed the only solution. Over time however we persevered and cooked 4 to 5 different variants gradually geting people to try things. One rosy cheeked young girl did not 'do fish' until we seasoned and grilled to perfection fresh tuna. We tried all manner of fish and meats and gradually people started to respond. The big step was when we expanded from the barbeque and started cooking in the oven.

After about three to four years we had a following of staff, about 25 in total who had become foodies and were happy to sit at the table for hours enjoying food and chat. The smokers became fewer in number and their sorties away from the group fewer and much shorter. (Now there was a theory that this was in case we talked about them but I like to think it was the food, wine and scintillating conversation).

As things progressed we even managed to get everyone just to eat what was put in front of them without question. They used their taste and enjoyment as the arbiter not their previous prejudice.

We still giggle about some of the moral mazes we trod when being economical with the truth at the end of the meal. There was the girl who hated bananas and thought the chicken dish we had eaten was the best meal in her life, and 'What was that sweet vegetable in the stew that was so delicious?????' Or the boy who could not eat anything with garlic in it:- well, welcome to Italian cooking, Jamie Oliver never uses garlic!!!!!!  We had those that could not eat lamb because the very idea of it was so shocking and it tasted so bad but they had a second helping of slow cooked Kleftico...

One of the broadest conquests was a vote on the 'Best Ever Beef Stew'. This was acclaimed as a masterpiece prepared and cooked by 'She who must not be named'. It was a great dish, slow cooked with fantastic herbs and spices and served with exceptional fresh vegetables. One thing about venison (which everyone hates and will not eat!) is that it responds so well to great wine and slow cooking.

Over the years I think everyone became aware of what we were doing but we succeeded. Late into the evening we had people asking for the Stilton, Brie, Comte and Parmigiano. To us it proves two things. Firstly, expose people to better food and they will enjoy it. The barrier is taking that first step with your taste buds. Secondly, by preparing it ourselves, we not only ate well but saved money over show food or the local Happy Eater.

We think Jamie Oliver 'et al' have done wonders for Britain. We really were in a bad place and by discovering the dinner table as a place for food, wine and friendship we have started to rediscover our souls.