It's been a pretty crazy year for me. I started this blog as a creative release and a way to fuel my passion for food. I never expected what followed. Small things like attending restaurant launches, cookbook launches and awards dinners are a big deal for me and these opportunities have sprung up surprisingly often. I have met chefs I used to - and still do - idolise. I have met food editors, stylists and photographers who produce work that amazes and inspires me. I have met food critics who I try and learn from. I have met suppliers and restaurant owners with personalities and stories that are absolutely incredible. I even catered for a few functions and turned several down. I had a piece published in Men's Health. Women's Health chose me as one of their "hot bloggers" to feature on their website. So...I still can't explain why I was so star-struck when I got invited to lunch with the judges for the 2010 Eat In Awards.
The Eat In Magazine is the sister to....wait....have a stab at it...yip, the Eat Out Magazine. They concentrate on celebrating small retailers, shops, producers, cooks, farmers etc. The winners are announced in March 2010 when the edition hits the shelves. Look out for it, it is an awesome source of information on ingredients and suppliers.
Back to last week's lunch. Sitting at a table with Justine Drake, Peter Goffe-Wood, Anna Trapido and Michelle Barry was a surreal experience for me. I'm a pretty confident dude but in there I just sat and listened. I hardly spoke! To hear their thoughts on South African food culture was amazing for me and I was lapping it up. They also explained how much bad food they had to get through to find the winners. Imagine stale cakes, burnt chutneys, heavy breads, stodgy koeksisters, over-salted cheeses etc. Not a great vibe. One thing was abundantly clear though: more credit and attention needs to be given to the suppliers who give the country's talented chefs the ingredients necessary to produce the meals they do.
After lunch we were politely kicked out and the judges got back to tasting the various entries. I left with my head in the clouds, again wondering how I had cracked the nod to rub shoulders with such respected foodies. I am a very lucky boy.