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Marcus Bean – Cooking and GYO unite

Who loves food? I know for me it’s the difference between a happy Belle and a grumpy Belle! Beauty certainly turns into the beast with no food; well Belle certainly does anyway.

This is why I will most definitely be absorbing every morsel of food I can at the BBC Good Food Show as well as all the tips I can get to take home and combine with my home-grown produce.
Hopefully if you read my recent blog where I shared my chat with Frances Tophill, you will know that as well as BBC Gardeners World Live taking place in June, the BBC Good Food Show will be taking place on the same dates, time and venue! If not, here is the link. Two shows combined for the price of 1! It’s a match made in heaven in my opinion, where else do you get gardening and cooking in union showing the full journey and inspiring thousands?

Luckily when I recently spoke to TV chef, cookery school owner, family man and double marathon runner Marcus Bean ahead of the show, he agreed! He also shared a lot more for you to feast on;

I know for me and my love of growing my produce, it’s the magic of nature and a tiny inconspicuous seed that gets me excited every time. What is it about food and cooking that makes you so passionate?
Pretty much the same thing really, it’s that element of change and excitement. There is nothing that is ever really the same. With food and myself, it’s probably a main driver because I’m self taught, it’s that passion of wanting to learn something new all the time. I’m a massive believer that you always learn and you never stop learning. Every element of food that I’m in, whether it’s pastry, fish, vegetarian, everything I do I really love, and I love because I love to eat. It’s also growing stuff, developing it and finding something in the wild or a new grain I can be creative with.

In 2012 you bought Brompton Cookery School and it has gone from strength to strength since. I believe a key part to the school is the extensive grounds you have for growing your own produce. Why is bringing this element into the school so important for you and are you a keen gardener?
I have an interest in food and getting the best quality produce, which makes me want to cook and encourages me to do more. The flavour you get from that freshly picked radish or any veg from the garden is pretty incredible. So, the development of growing your own has always been something I’ve had an interest in. When we came to Brompton we had the space to do it. We have a fruit orchard, full of damsons, apples, pears and figs; as well as we grow a lot of herbs especially chives and parsley which I can bring into demonstrations in the classes. Not forgetting lots of roses which we use for cocktails and cakes.

Amongst a great range of full and half day courses you deliver, the one that really caught my eye was the Foraging course. I love the idea of foraging and dream of using produce from the wild such as wild garlic in cooking, but get nervous about picking the wrong thing. Other than of course attending the course, is there 3 plants anyone can identify? 
Wild Garlic is a great one and is easy to identify with it’s flowers and strong fragrance. Also, horseradish which can be identified easily through the leaves, but can be a pain to dig out.
Commonly known as Sticky weed, the Cleavers plant is a more unusual one which can be used as a spring cleanse drink. It is easy to identify as like the name suggests, it is sticky! Pick some, give them a good wash then put them in room temperature water and let sit overnight. Drain and as it’s a diuretic, drink in small doses.

Amongst your busy schedule at the school and the B&B, you find the time to host the super theatre at the BBC Good Food Shows. Other than to see the amazing chefs on stage, why do you return every time and why should new people get the date in the diary and make the trip?
It’s the perfect combination for those with an interest in either cooking or growing food or both. You can learn so many new styles of cooking as well preserving and have the opportunity to ask experts for advice and tips. There is always such an array of new exciting products from around the world to see and test too.

Lastly, thanks to great new chefs on the scene, the rise of street food and competitions such as the Great British Bake off on our screens, cooking is now seen as fashionable and achievable for anyone. Gardening and the industry has definitely improved over the last two years, but there is still a stereotype, what do you think is missing that really makes all ages want to get involved in gardening and GYO especially?
I think that it is about bringing it to the forefront of peoples mind and bringing the link of growing and cooking together which like I said, the show does so well. There is nothing on TV which does this currently, but hopefully in time when the right people come together it will happen.

Thank you very much for your time today and I look forward to catching up at BBC Good Food Show and Gardeners World Live in June!

I hope you enjoyed my enjoyable chat with Marcus, I certainly learnt a lot and can’t wait to catch up next month.

Don’t forget, I am delighted to also bring you an exclusive 20% discount on tickets!

Just head to the BBC Gardeners World Live website and quote BL20 to save 20%* on tickets, including general admission to BBC Good Food Show Birmingham Summer. So that’s tickets from £18.80, saving £4.70.

I would love to know if you are planning on visiting GW Live, as well as what questions you would ask the TV chefs like Marcus or the GW presenters. Comment below and let me know!

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