I HAD just launched The Lowry in Manchester with a grand opening by Her Majesty The Queen, fantastic fireworks and amazing canapés, so I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself.
The Lowry was the main UK Millennium project for the North of England and simple dishes, all homemade, were the key ingredients.
The menu included beef bourguignon, steak pie cooked with oysters and ale and fish and chips in a tempura batter, served with a bespoke tomato dip made from roasting the tomatoes with garlic and onions.
It was a wet and windy lunchtime and, as I looked at the newly bridge connecting us to Trafford Park, I saw a couple walking towards us who looked very familiar: David and Victoria Beckham.
‘Hello David and welcome’, I said. ‘Hi Steve, you got a table?’, asked Becks. It was really busy but of course I had a table. This was David Beckham, for Christ’s sake!
On order I shouted, ‘One house salad with dressing on the side and one fish & chips’. I guessed that David would be having the fish and chips as ‘Posh’ is not renowned for eating much!
Now, as our USP was homemade everything, I had banned things like Heinz ketchup and Daddies sauce and chosen to make my own similar but better alternatives. Our brown sauce was made with fresh tamarind, star anise and wine vinegar and our tomato sauce was amazing.
‘Is everything OK for you David?’ I asked. ‘Yes Steve but what is this?’ David replied, pointing at the tomato sauce. ‘It’s a fresh tomato fondue made with good heritage tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil’, I proudly responded. ‘Bring me some ketchup will you, Heinz please,’ he demanded.
So off I went to the kitchen and shouted to a young chef, ‘Quickly get me some Heinz ketchup from the local shop, ASAP!´
‘But chef, you said you would not serve bottled sauces’, said the bemused chef.
‘Shut it and do as I say….. (this is David Beckham)!’ I muttered.
So David got his ketchup and we had a rethink on all those homemade sauces. We still carried on serving them but always had Heinz on standby!
However the real foodies loved our fresh tomato fondue, so I’d like to share it here for the benefit of true connoisseurs! As well as fish and chips it’s great with simple roasted chicken, grilled fish and even steak.
There is something very satisfying about making your own ketchup (whatever David Beckham thinks) so try it and enjoy! Spiced with the great Becks dinner party story, it tastes even better!
Steven’s fresh tomato fondue
1 onion peeled and chopped
6 ripe good quality red tomatoes blanched and peeled (skinless)
2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
1 stick of celery sliced thinly
Half a red pepper sliced thinly
Pinch of fresh cumin
Drizzle of olive oil
Maldon salt and white pepper
2 tablespoons of tomato puree paste or tomato frito
1 tablespoon of orange honey (or plain honey)
A good handful of fresh basil leaves finely shredded
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water in a saucepan (making a little cross on the top with a sharp knife), leave for 10 seconds, then remove and chill in iced water.
Peel the skin off, slice the tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray.
Put the garlic, olive oil, celery and pepper slices on top and season with salt, pepper and cumin.
Roast in a pre-heated oven (160 C) for approx. 8 -10mins until soft and juicy
Blend to a puree in a food processor
Put the tomato paste/frito in a thick-bottomed saucepan and stir in the fresh puree
Cook on a moderate heat for approx. 30 mins until reduced and thick.
Taste and adjust seasoning, stir in the honey and finish by topping or stirring in the fresh basil
• Get in touch with Steven on 952 493 602 or email him directly firstname.lastname@example.org