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We are the (food) champions

Heather Smith eats the words of a book about Home Grown North West food by making scouse with lamb from other side of the world - and then scoffing the lot

Published on January 14th 2010.

We are the (food) champions

DEIRDRE Morley's book: "Home Grown - Food Champions from England's Northwest" tosses words like “revolution” and “renaissance” around every other page, literally spreading the word and celebrating the welcome rise in first-rate cuisine and the raw ingredients that make it from across the region in these past few years.

The Bluecoat-published title, which is beautifully illustrated by award-winning photographer Colin McPherson, not only features some of the fascinating stories which lie behind our top chefs and their recipes, but also carefully details the often forgotten relationship between the restaurateurs and their suppliers, making it a perfect stocking-filler for anyone interested in eating out and knowing where their food comes from

A selection of our big local names - including Paul Askew of The London Carriage Works, Tom Gill and Paddy Byrne of the Everyman Bistro and Marc Wilkinson of Fraiche - all of whom are known to champion the tastiest local produce, detail their own unique journeys into food, and how they were transformed, step-by-step, into success stories.

Each of the 12 food disciples featured - spanning Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester - share three of their signature recipes, a starter, main and dessert, all of which are made with their favourite local produce. Some look easier than others, but more of that in a moment.

Home Grown's publication coincides with an initiative to encourage young people to consider a career in food. For the next three years, up to £1,500 of the book’s proceeds will fund a scholarship for the North West Young Chef’s of the year, giving candidates the opportunity to work overseas with a selected chef to help extend their experience.

Now, I’m no scholarship-seeking chef of the future, but in these dodgy economic circumstances when even Subway’s “Credit Crunch Munch” can sting the bank balance, isn’t it about time we rolled up our sleeves and learned to bring a little something from our favourite restaurant in to the home?


I decided to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in to Tom Gill's featured recipe; Lamb Scouse with Red Cabbage and Brown Bread, a big hitter down at the Everyman Bistro. I mean, scouse, how hard could it be?

Flicking back to the ingredients, the scouse itself seemed easy as you would expect, but I wasn’t fussed at the idea of making my own pickled red cabbage, let alone my own bread. I might be young (19), but I haven’t got all day you know. ASDA would have to do.

The good thing about Tom’s easy-to-follow recipe is that most of the ingredients are things you’re likely to always have in: potatoes, carrots, onions, and so on, whereas mustard, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce are probably lurking at the back of most cupboards somewhere. The lamb and the bitter would require a quick shopping trip.

(Click here to add text)
Brewers Revenge, a beer from Rainford’s George Wright Brewery is supposedly Tom’s preferred choice for the dish, yet it seemed absent from the ‘our beers’ list at georgewrightbrewing.co.uk and according to beermad.org the product is “dead”. That is, it isn’t known to have been in circulation for over twelve months. Slight hiccup, but nothing the equally local and trusty 4% Cains bitter couldn’t fix. Hic.

As for the lamb, and in the absence of a farmers market, the not so local New Zealand’s finest was all the supermarket could offer me, and, after reading Home Grown..., I felt peculiarly guilty about it (bloody hell, ed). Nevertheless, the meat went in to the hot pan and was soon seared and ready for a long simmering with the other ingredients.

Sitting on the couch after only a few stirs here and there, within the suggested hour and fifteen minutes, I couldn’t believe how simple it was.

But however tasty the finished dish - which it was, the full pan scoffed in no time - it would never be a patch on eating out. Let’s be honest, The One Show hardly compares with the eminent vista that you are likely to observe downstairs at the Everyman, or at any of the other vibrant venues in the city.

Great once in a while, but we’ve already arranged a return trip to the Everyman, just to see how my dish fared against the real deal.

*Home Grown: Food Champions of England’s Northwest, priced £19.99, is available now from all major and independent bookstores. You can also order a copy via www.bluecoatpress.co.uk or by telephoning 0151 707 2390.

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There that's got rid of "Truth" form the rantsDecember 16th 2008.

Ha ha!

Danger MousseDecember 16th 2008.

That's Tremayne Course in Genoa, the capital of Cake

Professor ChucklebuttyDecember 16th 2008.

They are not the Champions! For a start Alexandra Bestbutter was blonde, Stuart Damson didn't wear specs and William Gouda was a much taller. Any more of this nonsense and I'll contact Tremayne.

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