TV chef Michel Roux Jr., famous for appearances on BBC Masterchef but better known among foodies as the latest Roux family protégé, brought a touch of glamour to a Kent farmers market the other week.
Just occasionally I get to rub shoulders with the TV chefs through my Scoff & Quaff internet radio show and I have to say many of the can leave you feeling like an popped soufflé, showing little real connection to the food industry beyond the brands that sponsor them.
So it was a real treat to chat with Michel Roux Jr., famous for appearances on BBC Masterchef and other programs. He traveled to Kent in support of the local Shipbourne farmers market where he grew up. Coming from the French dynasty of Roux chefs (including his uncle by the same name), I expected him to be a touch sniffy. But he was down to earth – quite literally – as we discussed locally grown vegetables and the importance of the local markets for the community. “We’re always complaining about not knowing our neighbors and this is a great way to keep in touch with people,” he said before walking around the market.
Jules and Michel Roux Jr. at Shipbourne Farmers’ Market
The biggest celeb among the produce was rhubarb, making a welcome springtime return. Here’s a little Ode to Rhubarb and some top tips from the lovely Riverford Sisters, Liz & Caroline Asteraki:
Now is the time to rekindle an affection for rhubarb. Despite being widely used in desserts, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. It was popular through most of the 1900s but suffered along with many other of Britain’s homegrown, traditional vegetables as supermarkets began to sell out-of-season fruit from around the world.
Rhubarb is easy to grow in Britain, as it enjoys cool climates and suffers very few pests. But it isn’t just a convenient crop for farmers to grow; it also packs a flavoursome punch at the table.
If you want traditional, seasonal produce you can’t beat rhubarb at this time of year, try a simple crumble served with plenty of custard – and later in the season, throw in a few handfuls of strawberries too. Or make the most of its vibrant colour by swirling stewed rhubarb through creamy yoghurt for a super-quick dessert.
Rhubarb’s sharpness also works beautifully with meat and fish, so there’s no need to confine it to pudding. It stores well and will keep in the fridge for a week or more.
Check out these delicious Rhubarb and Cardamom Fool and Rhubarb & Ginger Cake recipes from the Riverford Farm Cook Book.