Asian restaurant Tampopo joined forces with BBC’s MasterChef semi-finalist Jackie Kearney to deliver a culinary extravaganza in Manchester this week.
Tampopo co-founder David Fox joined Jackie to host the event that provided a much tastier explosion than that that hit the food and drink festival in Albert Square the previous night.
Over 50 diners created a homely atmosphere in the marquee outside the town hall and enjoyed six courses (which turned into seven) of fine East Asian cuisine, all washed down with wine from local merchant Hanging Ditch.
The extra course came to be because Jackie had bought fresh instead of ripe jackfruit for the curry. She said: “It just didn’t work but then I was left with like, 2 tubs of jackfruit left so I thought; sorbet!”
So, diners were treated to an impromptu seventh dish (as impromptu as a sorbet can be!), a welcome surprise which allowed people to experience jackfruit in two different ways.
However, it didn’t all run quite as smoothly as hoped, the team were dealt the proverbial spanner in the works when it became apparent that only 1 of the 4 vegetarians had registered their preference and neither of the vegans had.
Cue chef and front of house panic! After some quick thinking and inspired improvisation all was dealt with smoothly which resulted in some satisfied vegans and veggies.
Jackie said: “I’m really pleased with how it went; we had a few hiccups because the vegans and vegetarians didn’t state it beforehand but I think we coped with it really well actually.
“It’s incredibly hard to make a trio of three different dumplings for this number of people and then you get thrown a curveball. Having gone out of Masterchef on a trio of dumplings I know that it’s a difficult course!”
The centrepiece was a rendang curry three ways; beef, jackfruit, and soya bean. The range of curries, flavours and textures was a delight for all diners.
Being the resident meat-eater, the beef rendang was David’s baby, he said: “The beef rendang was mine. I certainly had a relationship with that rendang this afternoon, I was there just going ‘reduce, you f*cker, reduce’!”
“I said to one of my chefs today, ‘it’s not reducing enough’ and she said ‘well, that’s because you’re watching it.’”
The guests, vegetarian and all, were certainly indulged throughout and the dessert was no different. Although we should be lucky that it made it to us as it had been resting in Jackie’s fridge at home an almost mistaken by her teenagers as a lovely treat for them to tuck into.
“I had to beat them off with a stick! I think I need to get a separate fridge at home,” joked the Masterchef semi-finalist.
Both chefs relished the opportunity to work with, and get to know, each other and enjoyed a beer together after the hard work was done.
Having enjoyed the experience, especially the food, so much David admitted that he was reluctant when offering up the last of the beef rending to lucky diners wanting a second helping!
He encouraged people to go along to Tampopo and try something new from the menu, he said: “There’s a broad palate of what we do; there’s Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese so there’s something for everyone.
Jackie is now focusing on her underground fine-dining project, The Hungry Gecko ; a vegetarian Asian street food restaurant in her home in Chorlton.