Here is something I never (ever ever) thought I would ever write: I hugged Jamie Oliver!
OK, let’s rewind. One Monday night, I almost choked on my chocolate bar as I was opening my emails. It was an invitation to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in London for the filming of Friday Night Feast, which will air tomorrow (Friday 8th January) on Channel 4 at 8 p.m.
The day started like a normal morning, full of porridge, arguments about orange juice, smelly nappies and walks to school. Then I put on my jeans, heels and a comfy T-shirt before heading to the train station.
Just as I got to Old Street station, it started raining. No, wait, ‘raining’ does not even start to describe the amount of water that was falling from the sky. It was pouring down with rain, raining cats and dogs, il pleuvait des cordes…
I had planned to walk with Nova, who blogs at Cherished by Me, but after a minute or so, we started looking like wet rats (sorry Nova, I could have chosen a better simile but nothing else comes to mind). Luckily, we managed to grab a cab and arrived at Fifteen drenched but as excited as a bunch of teenagers on their way to a One Direction gig.
We met lots of really nice people there. I already knew Ceri, the chef behind Natural Kitchen Adventures, and was delighted to finally meet Alida, the wonderful blogger behind My Little Italian Kitchen. We also started chatting with food and travel writer Ali and Kellie from Food to Glow.
As soon as we headed downstairs, what hit me was the number of cameras there. Not my usual lunch, but every single member of the crew was friendly and smiley. We all sat around tables and the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed. Not that I regularly roam around filming sets, but it just felt like a nice lunch out, with scrumptious food, nice wine and casual conversations about the food before us.
Meeting Jamie and Jimmy felt like a reunion with old friends (my perspective, probably not theirs). I knew them but they did not know me. That is a tad odd, isn’t it? I might have given Jamie a hug and Jimmy a pat. I am French. I am allowed to act a bit weird, right?
Jamie and Jimmy made us feel at home. Their camaraderie, jokes and genuine complicity really made the whole thing completely effortless. I think that is exactly what makes Jamie Oliver who he is. He is himself, not trying to be someone else.
If he wants to cook pasta, he gets a ‘Grand Master of Pasta’ (aka Gennaro Contaldo) to help.
If he starts tackling sustainability and the fact we export the vast majority of Scottish langoustines rather than feasting on them in Britain, he does not lecture us about it: he invites fishermen and listens to them talk about it all.
He brings people together, supports and gets support. The man is a genius!
The day was all about celebrating langoustines, Langos, or as they got nicknamed on the day, Sexy Lobsters. Langoustines are just like lobsters, but much smaller, quicker to cook and cheaper.
Jamie and Jimmy started by serving us plain boiled langoustines with mayonnaise. The experts, fishermen Ian Wightman and Kenny MacNab, taught us how to best get all meat (using the claws) and we all enjoyed our starter. I did not even have mine with mayo. The sweetness of plain langoustines comes from the clear seawater they come from and I was won over from the first mouthful!
Robin, the head chef at Fifteen, then treated us to the most amazing langoustine tartare.
Our last course was created by the master of pasta himself, Gennaro Contaldo, and what a pasta course it was!
If you get the chance, tune in to Channel 4 at 8 p.m. on Friday for Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (Series 3 Episode 2).
Check my new board on Pinterest dedicated to Langoustines: