Chris and Julia
When I started my Underground Restaurant I said: "This is 'put your money where your mouth is' time. Anybody with a digital camera, a way with words and a budget for eating out, can put up recipes, review food. How many food bloggers then invite you over to actually try the food for yourself?"
This project, the UK Food Bloggers Association stall in Covent Garden, is a similar 'throw down the oven glove' type challenge. Each week, on Thursdays, different food bloggers will sell their wares.
Prior to this, to be honest, I had no idea Covent Garden even had a food section, even though it's been going for three years. The UK Food Bloggers Association is organised by Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie. This first week, selling breads, quiches and brownies, was run by Chris Dreyfus of More tea vicar?
Chris and his friend Danial ("What does he do?" "He stirs things") only had about one and a half hours sleep. Chris was baking until 3am. The stall is open from early morning until 7pm. Like an Underground Restaurant, it's all turned out to be more work that you would imagine.
The day before, the local council environmental health officer went round to check on Chris' kitchen. He's already got a level 2 Food Hygiene certificate.
The officer asked questions: "How do you check if you have pests?"
" Erm, how do you check if you have pests?" I asked Chris (for I did my own food hygiene certificate ten years ago, but am redoing it next week).
"Look for droppings, bins getting gnawed at, that sort of thing"
His kitchen passed. The environmental health officer emphasised things like temperature, refrigeration, using a probe, labelling all the ingredients and possible allergens. Finally, you are not allowed to have any unrefrigerated food on display for longer than four hours.
"That's why I'm not putting out the second quiche" said Chris.
"But one sees food out all day on stalls" I queried "Is anybody actually taking notice of this rule?"
What has Chris learnt from this day?
"It's really tiring. In the future I need to make more things you can eat for lunch, my brownies sold out immediately, that is what sells best...also more speciality breads"
His fig and walnut loaf looked amazing, a bargain at three pounds. I bought the last one.
The Underground Restaurant will be selling produce at this stall in Covent Garden from September.