Good Food Show returns to Birmingham’s NEC

Anna vs Payat in Saturday Kitchen's omelette challenge.
Anna vs Payat in Saturday Kitchen's omelette challenge.

When it comes to cooking the fastest three-egg omelette possible, chef James Martin has very clear advice.

With typical Yorkshire humour, he tells me: “Just get it cooked.”

I had been invited to Cactus Studios, in Clapham, London, to watch the filming of James’ weekly live Saturday Kitchen programme and to take part in the show’s popular ‘omelette challenge’ on set after filming had finished.

The idea was to experience a taster of what audiences will see at this year’s Good Food Show at Birmingham’s NEC, which each year attracts many visitors from across Northamptonshire.

James will be busy at this event as he will be hosting Saturday Kitchen Live sessions in the venue’s Supertheatre.

He said: “I have done it for a couple of years now. We do a revised version of the programme as you can’t cover everything.”

As well as the chance to watch James cook, there will also be an opportunity for people to enjoy the regular features of the programme, including the omelette challenge.

James said: “You have to practise it to be really quick. I know one chef in particular who has done 200 eggs on a Friday night before the show.”

“That’s a bit sad, isn’t it?” I ventured.

“Well the live show is in front of 3.5 million people,” James replied.

Point taken.

The challenge of cooking in front of millions on live TV is something James is used to.

“Things do go wrong all the time,” he said. “But the show must always go on. It may be something that isn’t your fault or is out of your control. But I have a good rapport with the people on the show who speak to me in my ear.”

Facing the three-egg omelette challenge, competing against my husband, Payat Rittler, I soon realise the task is harder than it looks.

In my rush, one egg exploded, scattering egg white across the pristine Saturday Kitchen counter. Then I got egg in my hair and finally I couldn’t find my spatula, even though it was sitting on the table in front of me. My resulting time was 1 minute 28 seconds, while Payat (who rarely cooks) finished his in 47.02 seconds. James disqualified him for simply making scrambled eggs.

My time earned me a place second from last on the board, having made the omelette fractionally faster than food writer, Madhur Jaffrey. I was in good company.

Saturday Kitchen may have been running since 2002, but James has no plans to finish with the programme.

He said: “The show is fresh and topical, which does make a difference and you get the world’s greatest chefs coming in. A lot of the guys that come in are the really old boys, but it is the respect they have for the show, we have a mutual respect for each other.”

A popular part of the programme is the finale when James cooks the food ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ of different celebrities.

But what is James’ own food heaven and hell?

He said: “Heaven would be crab. Food hell would be horseradish, that would make me throw up. In fact, it is banned from Saturday Kitchen.” The Good Food Show will run from June 12-16. Also featured will be The Great British Bake Off.

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