Last week, I had the pleasure of going to the Universal Cookery & Food Festival. The show is unique in the fact that it is held in a different location each year – a location chosen on its ‘cheffy’ merits, with this year’s being held in Padstow on the Cornish coast, famous for its sensational seafood which came through in the central themes of the show.

It’s easy to see why chefs love the show – it feels like it’s taking the idea of a ‘trade show’ and stripping it back to its roots, simply creating a more natural way of gathering together those that are truly passionate about ingredients.

We started the day by watching a sushi masterclass in which one of the most skilled chefs I’ve ever seen, Jaturavit Saysena of Sushi Gourmet, prepared fresh salmon sushi. Interestingly the chef was saying that back in the day in Japan the rice in sushi wasn’t eaten and instead its acidity (from the ingredients they used to season it) was used to simply preserve the fish – it was disposed of and not eaten! Think of the food waste. They went on to say that now the rice is seen as the most important and cherished part of the sushi.

We also had the pleasure of watching Peter Mills, Managing Director of Devil’s Choice prepare his hand-dived scallops. I always feel like the audience size at events like this is great, as it allows for a little more intimacy between the chef and their audience and I must say these were some of the most engaged audiences I’ve seen at a show. The other benefit of course is the fact they’re able to prepare samples of their creations for everyone to try, and try I did. It goes without saying that it was the best scallop I’ve ever eaten – so sweet and succulent.

A big shout out to the chefs at Essential Cuisine, Nigel, Jon and Gary, for the utterly delicious Asian butternut squash soup they fed us. I’ll make sure we tweet the link to the recipe as soon as it’s been uploaded to their site.

Overall a show we would highly recommend for chefs to attend. I simply cannot wait for next year.

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