Archive for the 'Channel 4' Category

Andrew Jones’ Pie Factory explosion

Terrible news to hear yesterday about the explosion at the Andrew Jones Pie Factory in Huddersfield. I visited Andrew and the team on my Food Map tour last year and they were a great bunch of lads.

Here’s Andrew selling his wares at the Huddersfield Food Festival in happier times.

Andrew Jones Pies - Huddersfield

Andrew Jones Pies - Huddersfield

Andrew Jones Pies - Huddersfield

Andrew Jones Pies - Huddersfield


Finding supporting content doesn’t get taffa than this!

Having just watched the Masterchef  final where Mssrs Wallace and Torode crowned (though with that trophy branded might be more appropriate) family man and Beaminster resident Mat Follas the winner, I headed over to the beeb site for more post TV buzz/come down.  The BBC homepage had nothing, ditto the /two page, the /food page is as quiet as the grave and /masterchef redirects to one of those SSI API cobbled together programme pages. Sadly I knew this would probably be the case. It’s a shame because this is the grand final of the series, a series which w/e 15th February was the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th most watched programme on BBC Two according to BARB, and last night got 4.7 million viewers, Not too shabby then.

Meanwhile over at the Guardian WoM page it was all kicking off with live blogging by Anna P and over three pages of comments, jokes and observations. There’s even Masterchef bingo cards. After the show The Mail had a story up, as did the METRO. The wikipedia page was updated at 9:16pm and even updated it’s page about local boy Andy Oliver loosing for Gods sake! Yet the beeb had nothing to see. 

There’s two things to consider here. The Guardian has, of late, done a nice line in articles, blogging, and commenting on mainstream TV shows. It’s been quietly hoovering up small pockets of interested folk and no doubt keeping some of them along the way.  It’s been doing this for Channel 4 TV shows too. Emily Bell must be thrilled. Secondly, despite the BBC (and others) banging on about connecting with viewers interests and wanting to ‘own the watercooler chat’ moment, they’re not, because The Big G (and bloggers) are doing it very very well indeed.

It’s the same thing with University Challenge Final on Monday.  All the hullaballoo about Gail Trimble et al, the BBC could have had those eyeballs, comments and page impressions (and love her/loathe her debate).  ‘Course in my day the argument was ‘we don’t have the tools’, well that’s not true anymore, the Beeb’s actually got it’s blogging kit in place. I know budgets are finite but still. These things are pre-recorded just as a drama is, it must be possible to create some content around them? A ‘tonight’s TV page’ perhaps? I think someone’s missing a trick, and more importantly audience, and it’s not the Guardian. 

Kirstie’s Lost Ring

Tragedy has befallen the House of Allsop. The poor luv’s lost her engagement ring.  She popped out to Hackney M&S during a shoot and had lost it by the time she returned to the set. But where to start looking? Well, Cash Xchange on Mare Street would be my first line of enquiry, followed by the other Pawn brokers in E8. 

This picture was taken in Hackney two days ago…

The reward’s a cool £1000 and perhaps even a lock of her hair. And Kirsty if you can’t find it I’m sure my friend Luke can make a replacement. 



Kirsties Lost Ring.

Video off cuts: leftovers from the C4 pig project. Pt3

My travels with the channel 4 Pig have come to an end now. To recap, I got Tim Wilson of The Ginger Pig to cut up a side into the ten main cuts and then took those cuts to 10 chefs around the country.  I shot over an hour for each chef, which I edited down to 5mins for Channel 4. This left a fair bit on the cutting room floor so to speak, which it seems a shame to waste. So where possible they’ll be off cuts and scraps of video as well as some photos – It’s what the pig would have wanted.


Anthony Demetre, Arbutus. London

I’ve been a fan of Anthony’s restaurant for a long time, and so was mad keen to give him a bit of the pig. The cooking there is my style of food, simple, good strong flavours, not to much messing around. He’s also a good chef to talk about ‘the business’ too. I offered Anthony the shoulder to work with, and dropped it off a few days before hand.

SHOULDER - Anthony Demetre @ Arbutus
He’d originally wanted the head, but Hywel Jones had taken that part. Anthony also used the crackling as a garnish, but this didn’t make the final cut, so I present it here now, along with his thoughts on ragu’s and knives for your enjoyment.



Cracking crackling


Ragu guru Anthony gives us some knife knowledge 

There was so much meat on the shoulder that Anthony planned to make two dishes.  The first one was an Old Italian recipe, pork braised in white wine, sage, garlic and milk. The milk goes in an hour before the end, and as it cooks it sort of curdles and then goes golden – it’s a unique taste, and so time to make. I filmed Anthony prepping and putting it in the oven in the morning, ducked back in during a frantic lunch service to film him adding the milk, and then came back after lunch to film him plating up.

The second dish was a ragu, which wasn’t you gloopy read sauce, but much mroe delicate and featuring mint, anchovies and chilli, perhaps betraying Anthony’s Greek heritage, mint is used a lot in southern Med cooking.

Finally Anthony, like many of the chefs I visited, was rather impressed with Tim’s pork, saying it had a wonderful sweetness to it, which it does.

Anthony’s Milk braised pork shoulder recipe & video demo (pop up)

Anthony’s Pork shoulder Bolognaise recipe & video demo (pop up)


Video off cuts: leftovers from the C4 pig project. Pt2

My travels with the channel 4 Pig have come to an end now. To recap, I got Tim Wilson of The Ginger Pig to cut up a side into the ten main cuts and then took those cuts to 10 chefs around the country.  I shot over an hour for each chef, which I edited down to 5mins for Channel 4. This left a fair bit on the cutting room floor so to speak, which it seems a shame to waste. So where possible they’ll be off cuts and scraps of video as well as some photos – It’s what the pig would have wanted.

Next up, the West Country gets a visit when I stop in on Hywel Jones and Chris Wicks. Go west they say, I’ve always had a soft spot for the West Country having spent some of my early childhood in Wookey Hole.  

Chris Wicks, Bell’s Diner. Bristol

Chris Wicks was the first person to answer the phone when I began the ring-around to find chefs for this project. He said yes straight away, and when offered the choice of cuts, went straight for the belly – it’s where the flavour is. 

BELLY - Chris Wicks at Bell's Diner
Chris in his Kitchen

Chris was a man of few words, and an economy of movement, but then once in a while I’d get these little flashes of the person within. He said the word patience many times during the interview, and was calm and collected at all times. An example of this was during filming, when he was pushing the potatoes through a drum sieve and sales man for something came in and asked “are you the owner?” “Yes” replied Chris, “Is now a good time to talk?” said the sales man rather expectantly having clocked me filming Chris cooking. Now some one from the Ramsay mould would have replied ‘what do you think?!’ or ‘fuck off!’ but Chris just leveled him with a quiet simple “no”, and the guy sloped off. We had to re do the take mind.

In the video below Chris shows me a cartouche, a piece of baking parchment placed over any braised dish to help keep the meat submerged as well as allow the sauce to reduce. It also stops a skin forming on the surface. 

Recently Chris was on the receiving end of a mixed review from Matthew Norman from the Guardian, in which he said ‘be a more neighbourhood joint’ which strangely is the exact same thing he said to Belle House whom I also visited on this project. This is a real shame as Jay Rayner really enjoyed his time there in 2007 and Michelin describes it thus. So if I were Chris, I’d take his words with a slight pinch of salt. I asked Chris watch his plans were for 2009, “frugal is the watch word, keep things tight and add value for money, and finally look after people’.   On the subject of pork he says “The belly is simple to cook, has fantastic flavour and can be used in a variety of recipes. Put belly up against say fillet steak for flavour and belly wins everytime”. On cooking it he added wryly, I think pork over cooks very well! It’s very forgiving. Fattier cuts are more tastier and fat’s the key with pork”.

BELLY - Chris Wicks at Bell's Diner

Chris’ Braised belly pork recipe & video demo (pop up)


Hywel Jones, Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire

Hywel Jones is a proud Welshman who left Wales to seek his fortune in London. He was at the famous (and now defunct) Coast restaurant during the 90s with Stephen Terry (where incidently Ben Tish from the Salt Yard was a commis at the same time). After having kids the green green grass of home called and he wanted to come back to Wales. He found the job of executive chef at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire allowed him to commute and he’s been there five years now.

HEAD- Hywel Jones @ Lucknam Park
Lucknam Park has a rich and interesting history

The hotel has had a great deal of love, attention and most importantly money poureded into it by it’s private owner. It’s a truly lovely location, with a long tree lined drive nearly a mile long leading to the house. Hywel and Sales Manager Rachel looked kindly looked after me during my time there.

When I first spoke to Hywel about the project, I was about to list the cuts still available to choose from but before I could he said “I’ll have the head”. To be honest I was glad as I thought the pig’s bonce was going to be the hardest to get rid of so gladly assigned it to him. It turns out that Anthony at Arbutus was keen on it too. Hywel wanted the head for two reasons; one, it’s a truly undervalued and cheap cut. A whole head can be had for £1.50. And two, I suspect it would allow him to demonstrate his cooking flare, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

HEAD- Hywel Jones @ Lucknam Park
The pig’s head

Now to all those who say “ewww I could never eat a pigs head” I say “you probably all ready have”. There’s meat on the head, and that meat makes it’s way into sausages, and as long as it’s good meat, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Hywel had earlier this year taken delivery of two brand-new, state-of-the-art induction cookers. I’ve seen these before, namely in the kitchen’s of Flash, the temporary restaurant at the Royal Academy, but those were the plug in portable ones. This range was a brute, Hywel demonstrated them to me, which didn’t make the final channel 4 cut but is over interest and so I’ve included it below.

HEAD- Hywel Jones @ Lucknam Park
The finished dish

Finally I think Hywel’s recipe is obviously a show piece than mid week supper, but if any of you do attempt it, or even attempt to cook the pigs cheeks, please get in touch as I’d love to hear about it.

Hywel’s Compressed head of pork with Langoustines recipe & video demo

This Kangaroo is no more

CAPTION:  “I’m not dead… just buffering, honest – cough!

Lots in the media’s paper about this this morning. What a bloody mess, lots of public comments about how two massive high street banks can merge – fine – and that Ofcom thinks C4 and BBC Worldwide should merge – fine – but this isn’t allowed. Emily sums it up well I feel.

Here’s what I think. This report kicked off July last year, a lot has changed since then I reckon. We’ll see how this pans out but from here it looks like a blow to Brit media and to my friends who’ve worked on the project.

So all hopes are pinned on Project Marquee, or Project Canvas, the later “…requires BBC Trust approval but it’s hoped that the initiative will get under way by 2010″ (source) by which time the world will have turned again and they’ll be different hoops to jump through. You know when C4 built 4oD they got it out the door in about six months.  They say content drives technology, (the Coronation and TV take up) I reckon we won’t see a thing until… the Olympics?

4oD on a mac news

eyedropper stats

4oD on a mac is by far the most popular post on my blog, closely followed by 4oD on a mac ptII .  I wrote both of these just over two years ago when I started at Channel 4.  The the online and real worlds have turned considerably since then. Yet at present running it via virtualisation is still the only way as far as I know.

But there was a tid bit thrown the other day by my old colleague Richard Davidson-Houston saying ‘Catch up on a mac, won’t be long‘. So there you go… Coming soon it seems. 

Catch up though, is not full on downloadedable 4oD as far as I know.  Tell us more Rich…

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
September 2019
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