So it turns out that there’s more than one Trinity Road in Birmingham, and guess what? Villa Park isn’t in West Bromwich. Our slight detour meant that were running ever so slightly late for Glynn Purnell’s Friday Night Kitchen, and that Matt would never again be tasked with finding directions.
A trustee of Cure Leukaemia, Michelin-Starred chef Glynn Purnell was hosting the event in aid of the charity, and promised it to be ‘a Friday night to remember’. Well it certainly wasn’t going to be a quiet one, as he was being joined by Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace and celebrity chef Rustie Lee on stage for live cooking demonstrations. We were in for a funny night.
Over 400 guests arrived at the Holte Suite, Villa Park, and after a drinks reception in the lobby, everyone took to their seats in anticipation of the night ahead.
Fellow Brummie, and radio DJ, Phil Upton kicked off the evening by taking to the stage and talking us through what they had in store for us. Gregg joined him and launched an in-house appeal to find a Gregg Wallace look-a-like. About five people stood up! And they really did look like him; bald head, glasses and all. Who knew it was such a popular look?! It was hysterical.
Glynn and Rustie were up next to prepare Rustie Lee’s Jerk Chicken Terrine with Pineapple and Mango Salsa, Crème Fraiche and Fried Plantain. Oh my gosh, these two together were hilarious. Rustie’s laugh is infectious, and when she accidently set fire to a pan, I was in stitches. I might have also accidently put West Midlands Fire Service on red alert with a very excited tweet.
As the dish was finished off on stage, the doors to the room opened and streams of servers came through with identical plates of the jerk chicken starter. We were all served so promptly, like, immediately. It was really impressive. You know the episodes of Masterchef, I think in the finals, when they have to cook for hundreds of people at some sort of banquet and the kitchen’s crazily busy, and everyone’s shouting ‘service’ and wiping sweat from their brow as they try and add the last drizzle of jus before the plates are whisked away? Well that’s exactly what I imagined it to be like behind the scenes.
The Chicken Terrine was layers of moist chicken with beautiful flavours of allspice and cinnamon with a lovely hum of chilli heat. The salsa was vibrant, fresh and sweet. Served with really thick sour cream, and a coriander salad, the dish was perfection. My first ever plantain crisp was a joy.
The main course was down to Glynn, and we were having a proper roast dinner with all of the trimmings. A whole Roast Loin of Pork would be brought to each table, and the lucky person who found a hidden envelope containing an apron underneath their seat, got to play host and carve for the table.
Homemade Apple Sauce, Sage Crisps, Crackling, Sage & Onion Stuffing, Roast Potatoes and Roots were served alongside the pork with gravy.
I had a HUGE piece of pork, and it was divine. Glynn boasts about making the best roast potatoes in Birmingham, and they were very good. Soft and buttery on the inside and lovely and salty and crisp on the outside.
Throughout the evening, different guests had been joining them on stage. Sponsors of the different courses, companies who had generously donated prizes to be given away on the night, but also people behind Cure Leukaemia. Professor Charlie Craddock, co-founder of the charity and Director of The Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit at Birmingham’s Queen Hospital gave an amazing speech. You can watch him talk about Cure Leukaemia here on their website. His passion was obvious, and it was a real goosebumps moment when another guest in the audience who had received treatment, thanked him, for ultimately, saving his life. I mean, just wow.
There was only one man there that night who would have been overseeing the dessert course, and that was, of course, Mr Gregg Wallace. He went back on stage to the sound of that ‘Buttery Biscuit Base’ remix to get a closer look, and appeared increasingly excited as Glynn described what he had prepared. We were being served a Trio of Brummie Desserts: Fruit Bar, Custard Brûlée & Bird’s Toffee Pudding.
Best dish of the night. Every single element was superb. The soft set brûlée had the most delicate, thin, crisp, caramelised top. A small round of shortbread sprinkled heavily with granulated sugar just crumbled. The raspberry purée was like being slapped in the face with a punnet of fresh raspberries it was that vibrant. A little toffee pudding that was light rather than rich, and without a hint of stickiness, was heavenly.
Finally the Fruit Bar was a thin sponge base, topped with a chocolate mousse and a layer of caramel, smothered in smooth, chocolate ganache served with sultanas I think, in a caramel and stem ginger syrup.
The Subterraneans, one of the resident bands at The Jam House in Birmingham, and radio DJ Russ Morris kept the party going long into the night.
Glynn Purnell’s Friday Night Kitchen raised over £60,000 for Cure Leukaemia, and the dates for next year have already been announced. Make sure you follow @GPFNK on twitter for more information and updates.
For more information about GPFNK 2016, please email Jackie@fridaynightkitchen.co.uk
It was a privilege to be invited by Rewired PR to attend the event as the ‘official blogger’ of the night. All opinions are, as always, my own.