Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Kitchen Cabinet comes to Cardiff

The Kitchen Cabinet is a Radio 4 panel show about food presented by Jay Rayner. Each week, the programme travels round the country. Last night it was being recorded in Cardiff, at The Gate Arts & Community Centre. I went along to find out more about this popular radio show, which completes its fifth season with the Cardiff episode.

The four panel members for this programme were local representative Angela Gray, from the Cookery School at Llanerch vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan; the Cambridge-based food writer Tim Hayward; the chef and cookery teacher Angela Malik; and Peter Barham, a food scientist from the University of Bristol.

The panel lined up on a stage set up for The Gate’s annual Christmas production of Aladdin, and this was very much the programme’s Christmas episode. Therefore, it was a bit of a missed opportunity to focus on Welsh food, although bara brith and the Welsh-Italian connection featured as key parts of the discussion.

On arriving, all audience members were asked to answer questions (e.g.,'What is your culinary Christmas wish?’) and write down a question for the panel. Recently, we ate Haggis Pizza at a St Andrew’s Night event at the Murchfield Community Hall in Dinas Powys. This inspired my question to the panel: ‘Is there a limit to what can be put on a pizza base?’ Among the other audience members who put questions to the panel was Cardiff’s Ed Gilbert (aka @gourmetgorro). Alternative Christmas meals, cocktails, and cooking with coca cola were among the topics raised.

The recording was efficient and audience involvement was central to the show. The contribution by Angela Gray and an Italian restaurant owner on Italian food in Wales was particularly interesting; Angela Malik proposed some intriguing Asian twists to traditional Christmas classics; Tim Hayward’s had useful tips on baking and the use of rhubarb in drinks; and Peter Barham provided scientific context and had to field the trickiest questions like ‘is there a cooking gene?’. No, is the resounding answer to that question, by the way.

To find out more, I recommend you tune in next Tuesday 17 December (3pm) or over the following week on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03lph1b

Jay Rayner is a genial host, who gets the panel to explain culinary terms so no audience member is left behind. It’s the inverse of the recent food panel show with experts displaying their erudite knowledge of obscure food items. I believe that ran for one series, whereas The Kitchen Panel could potentially have the longevity of a show it liberally borrows from – Gardeners’ Question Time.

I thank Dan Allsobrook (aka @eggynewydd) for taking this photo of me and Jay Rayner:

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