So, I got this invitation as a food blogger and I was super psyched that day, I virtually skipped home. Despite the event being tailored to over 40’s because Walkers is launching a new range of crisps tailored to older people with sophisticated palates, I still got an invite because I represent a unique demographic, prospective customers of Walkers crisps who are of African descent. This was a huge honour to be honest. I was given the opportunity to bring a +1 with me, I posted this invitation on Dooney’s Kitchen Facebook Page but no one grabbed the opportunity. As the picture shows, the event was hosted by Market Deli at Natural Kitchen in Central London.
Quick change into a smart casual dress, makeup in the car, quick brush of the hair and I set out on the tube. I don’t like London on the best of days, now on a Tuesday afternoon at rush hour, groan alert. Luckily I was heading in the other direction of human traffic, i.e. heading into central London, while people were heading out. As usual, my sense of direction is nothing to write home about and I got lost. Google Maps is quite wonky in central London and it took me on a good old merry walk, I was this close to turning back, until I saw a landmark that brought it all home and I followed the proverbial arrow. Natural Kitchen was smack opposite Deloitte offices and it made me smile. That could have been my office but fate had other plans for me. Shout out to any reader(s) who works at Deloitte offices in New Street Square.
Getting through the doors at Natural Kitchen, I was already 20minutes late, but I hadn’t missed anything. The room was packed full with food bloggers, editors of food magazines, fashion and lifestyle magazine representatives, photographers, you name it. It was a posh intimate event with tables laid out with platters of ingredients, canapes and the new packets of crisps. Of course, there was a wine bar with wine deliberately selected to pair with the crisps. I opted for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and worked the room (or at least tried to, I am very shy in social situations), introducing myself as a Nigerian food blogger.
I must say Walkers put on a great event, because on each table were Deli food, gourmet, lush expensive, sophisticated ingredients which gave you a sense of an upscale packet of crisps and not the bog standard cheap every day types. There was someone at each table explaining the flavour combinations. I could spot chorizo and other cured meats, onion chutney, balsamic vinegar, matured cheddar and so much more. What really wowed me was the quality of ingredients. Some people may whine about the prices of some food items, but believe me, like with designer clothing items, Apple products, flying first class, staying in a 5 star hotel and the likes, when a consumer item comes with a price tag, you betcha it deserves it. I positively detest balsamic vinegar and cheddar cheese, but found myself going back for more.
In fact, many ingredients I didn’t like were on the table and I was pleasantly surprised how delicious they were. I can now attribute my past dislike of them to eating the cheaper versions. Of all the things I have taken from this event, the most important would be the push to finally start shopping at specialist food stores and high-end supermarkets. Life is too short not experience good food, and oh yes, I am a food snob, my taste buds are allergic to cheap. Gourmet is now the way forward. The finer things in life are not exclusive to only a select few. Hahahaha
Of course by introducing myself as a Nigerian food blogger, the expected questions ensued, and I found myself stating out quick recipes, making sure I passed the message across that most of the ingredients on the tables were standard ingredients in the fridge or pantry of any Nigerian home, and oh yes, I expected the surprise looks. The picture below really made me smile. I remember telling a fellow food blogger that Jollof rice and The Nigerian Red stew is made from all the ingredients on that table. Oh well, Walkers named it Pita Chips, but who knows, we could have Jollof Chips in the future, when we break into the mainstream market. It wasn’t just a chance for me to get educated, I was pleased to pass on the message about Nigerian food, to anyone who cared to listen.
I am supposed to hate chutney, or I thought I did, you see that jar to the left, AMAZEBALLS. I kept going back to the table, for a bite and the lady graciously gave me a jar to take home. Yums!!!
As you can see, these crisps are not made with run of the mill ingredients. The Market Deli team did a great job pairing sea salt and black pepper into this Tortilla chips
Now, to the man of the hour, Michelin Starred Chef Tom Aikens. He was there for a live cooking demonstration. He made the simple Mac and Cheese which people, was the best Mac and Cheese I have ever eaten. I told myself afterwards, duh!!! He is a Michelin Starred Chef, they don’t just hand those out. Looool. Watching him cook simple food and engage with us in conversation was like having The Food Network experience live.
I was sitting less than 5 steps away from a Michelin Starred chef, you can’t imagine the giddy feeling. Other people preen and smile at celebrities, for us serious foodies, Michelin Starred Chefs like Tom Aikens are our celebrities.
Simple food, simple cooking, no seasoning cubes and it was DELICIOUS. I wrote on Facebook telling my friends that, if they ever served me Mac and Cheese in their homes and I didn’t like it, they should not be offended. I have eaten one cooked by a Michelin Starred Chef and theirs will pale in comparison. hehehehehee
Chef Tom also made us some Gazpacho. Again, very delicious. He stayed back for a bit, shaking hands and taking pictures, and the tongue-tied, awkward in social situations other side of me came out in full force and I couldn’t get myself to walk up to him and say Hi. Maybe some other time. I hope.
Back to the chips. This garlic and herbs one, was one of my favourites.
and this is the mature cheddar cheese that I must have eaten at least 7 times, because it was just so good. Anyone who knows how much I chant, I hate cheese would have looked at me in disbelief.
These are crisps for the matured foodie, who appreciates good quality ingredients. Walkers and Market Deli did an amazing job. We were all given goody bags which contained packets of the crisps and we were asked to do product reviews. I went home with an additional bottle of Gourmet Balsamic Vinegar from Moderna Italy.Iit really was my lucky day. The Product Review will be posted tomorrow.