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Food Homepage Slider Life & Loves Recipe — 25 January 2013

Yesterday was a bit unusual. Actually, make that very unusual. It’s not every day you spend it with celeb chef Rosemary Shrager, in mock ‘MasterChef’ style…

Gourmet Garden blog off/cook off


Back in late 2012 Gourmet Garden, the herbs and spices in a squeezey tube folk, invited bloggers to take part in a competition to create a recipe. It was just at the time when Celebrity MasterChef  was on, a time when the sofa, remote and I spent a lot of time together. I felt inspired and created a chicken and sweet potato recipe which was (shock-horror) selected for the final.

The Blog Off/Cook Off took place in a cookery school in EC4. My fellow contestants were Filipa from Gourmet Mum, Emma from Emma Nutrition and Donna from Mummy News. All of my fellow bloggers were lovely and similarly all of our recipes were the type that you would cook at home for the family and included Gourmet Garden’s range of herbs and spices.

The format of the contest was pretty similar to the MC but instead of Greg, John of Michele breathing down our necks we had Rosemary Shrager. For those who don’t know, she’s known for being pretty strict with her cookery school students. However, as you can see from the pic above Rosemary isn’t really so scary. In fact, she really couldn’t have been more friendly, open, enthusiastic, honest and kind. Oh, and fun. She definitely serves up life with a helping of FUN!

Regardless of how lovely Rosemary, the team from Garden Gourmet and the PR company were it was still pretty knee-wobbling stuff. Having anyone other than your nearest and dearest watching you cook is uncomfortable, unnatural, difficult and enough to make you doubt you’re competent enough to open a tin of beans. It’s no wonder the MasterChef contestants say they are nervous. After grating off my nail polish in a panicky moment, I reckon there must be heaps of unseen footage of plates of Julienne fingers with a blood jus served on a bed of Elastoplast!

When the gong that was Rosemary’s loud voice sounded the start of the contest it was hard to know where to begin, let alone remember your recipe. Fortunately for me my first job was to pound the chicken breast which gave a great deal of stress relief. Meanwhile, around the kitchen, others were whipping, whizzing, stirring and trying to get to grips with induction hobs. Looking back it was all a bit of a blur. I know I managed to fit in a fair bit of talking when I probably should have rethought my courgettes (Rosemary told me later they weren’t great) but Nigella doesn’t hold back on the chit-chat, does she?!

My offering: mummy rates it's offering

My offering: Chicken stuffed with cheese, basil and garlic; courgettes in basil and sweet potato mash with ginger and chilli

At the end of the hour our plates were all put at the end of the bench for Rosemary and the Gourmet Garden team to sample. I must say I did think my plate looked rather pitiful next to the others who had managed to knock out wonderful looking food (and lots of it) in the hour.


Filipa's winning meal: Turkey Burgers

Winning meal: Filipa Gourmet Mum’s Turkey Burgers

After much deliberation and waiting (yes, they did do that really big pause) Filipa was announced as the winner. A great moment for her but for us too as her reaction was brilliant. Think Munch’s Scream (without the noise) – and you’ll get it. Bless her. Her food did look amazing. Also, as she was lovely company on the day, has a wonderful foodie blog, takes her recipes very seriously and even takes her food out in the garden to photograph she’ll be a wonderful Ambassador for Gourmet Garden.

So, no I didn’t become Gourmet Garden’s Ambassador or win a trip to Australia. However, I did have a fantastic day, was treated to a lovely bunch of flowers, a slap up meal at Hix Soho and a fridge-full of Gourmet Garden herbs. I’ll be posting a Q&A with Rosemary next week where she gives her tips for culinary success and reveals her favourite foods…




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(4) Readers Comments

  1. Wow – well done you doing this! It all looks delicious and sounds like a fun day (albeit nerve racking moments!) xx

    • Hi Louise,
      Yes, it was a fun day and certainly an ‘experience’. Us bloggers are very lucky – we get to do/try/take part in some great things, don’t we?
      Thanks for commenting. Michelle x

  2. Well done Michelle. Is there no end to your talents? I’ll be glad when you leave the country! ;)

    • There is a definite end to my talents (as I discover on a daily basis!) x

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