On Tuesday (15) December, Dart Fresh HQ in Exeter played host to a series of socially distanced cookery demos to showcase the fabulous range of local produce. Celebrity chef and cookery book author, Dipna Anand joined the team to judge the final of the ‘Lockdown Cook-Off’, their own twist on Ready Steady Cook for chefs who were unable to work due to the lockdown.
The Dart Fresh team were absolutely astonished by the response, with over forty entries submitted by talented chefs from Cheltenham to Plymouth, Weymouth to Barnstaple and everywhere in between.
Dart Fresh has always aimed to be a one-stop-shop for chefs; to be able to give them everything they need to make their lives easier with making just one order and therefore one delivery.
Second generation costermonger and Director John Pritchard was delighted to host a day of Indian Gastronomy and really enjoyed working with the visiting chefs showcasing his produce. He said
“This is a great chance to showcase the journey of where we’ve come from as a fruit and veg company in 1957 working with the supermarkets to becoming and all-encompassing foodservice company and now introducing an online home delivery offer with the onset of the pandemic, which is proving really popular.”
This is the first of a series of culinary focus days to be held at the depot to showcase the vast range of meat, fish, fresh fruit and veg, fine foods and cooks’ ingredients available to top chefs and now, retail customers online.
The ‘Lockdown Cookoff’ competition offered chefs the opportunity to get creative with a mystery box of ingredients curated by Dart Fresh development chef, Chris Gillard, and they all produced some fantastic dishes, showing real culinary talent and creative flair.
“I have been blown away with what the chefs have produced and the effort they put into their concept and dish ideas. They have submitted the whole planning process with sketches and photography.”
Dipna, Ankur Biswas, of the Royal Naval College, and Sureshraj Dhanabal, Executive Chef of The Mint Room in Bristol, were invited down to the depot in Marsh Barton to cook their signature dishes on a purpose-built stage.
Dipna recently appeared on Saturday Morning with James Martin and the TV Chef said that her Makhani Chicken, or Butter Chicken dish, was in the top five ever to be cooked on his show. Dart Fresh simply had to invite her down their headquarters in Devon to recreate the recipe with the fabulous Beech Ridge Farm chicken, from near Tiverton, to celebrate its quality.
“I was delighted to be invited to judge the Lockdown Cook-off competition at Dart Fresh and really enjoyed cooking my signature dish of Makhani Chicken with the fabulous local Beech Ridge Farm chicken thighs. Provenance is really important to me and it was so lovely to see the lovely natural yellow colour of the chicken thighs from birds left to forage naturally, grazing on herbal lays of grass.”
It was a close call, as all of the entries were of such a high standard, but Dipna could only pick one winner and that was Chef Consultant, Dez Turland for his excellent range of dishes created with his mystery box of ingredients. Dez was given a box containing duck breast, potatoes, cranberries, cauliflower, quail eggs, shimeji mushrooms and created twelve different dishes with them including duck and quail scotch eggs, a duck pasty and duck fat doughnuts!
Ankur Biswas, of the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, showcased his range of sauces and how to make his famous Namoh Kadai sauce with ground spices. This delicious curry sauce is available through Dart Fresh’s new online home delivery service and can lend itself perfectly to meat of fish.
Sureshraj Dhanabal, Executive Chef of The Mint Room in Bristol, used delicious fresh red mullet from Brixham to create a fantastic Kerala style ‘Meen Polichadhu’, where he wrapped the mullet in banana leaves for them to steam to perfection.
January’s culinary focus day will see an emphasis on flying game and poultry for the new year and the line-up of top local chefs will be announced shortly!
For more information on Dart Fresh, ingredients for chefs and the new online delivery service, visit www.dartfresh.co.uk