One of the things I love most is getting the chance to show people why I fell in love with Spanish food and wine. I’ve really enjoyed doing demos and judging competitions this year: itt’s been a great way to connect with people and spread the word as we work hard behind the scenes to get the new Manchester restaurant ready.

So with that in mind it was a real privilege to be invited by our friends at Essential Cuisine to come down to the Midlands to meet the winner of their Best Brigades competition. I’d previously met the great Essential Cuisine team earlier in the year when judging the North West Young Chef Competition, and it became obvious how much they work to reward talent in the kitchen.

Their ‘Britain’s Best Brigades’ nationwide competition saw the kitchen team from the Heritage Motor Museum crowned national champions after a public vote. I was asked to run a tapas Menu Development Masterclass for the team as part of their prize, so one sunny August morning I packed up the car with loads of goodies and drove down to Gaydon in Warwickshire to showcase a bit of El Gato Negro to this winning brigade!

Here’s the menu for the day… regular customers will recognise some favourites and specials, as well as a couple of new dishes

  • Sardines with chimichurri dressing and almond picado
  • Chargrilled squid with saffron aioli, tomato, parsley and red onion salad
  • Coca Mallorquina with red onion and pepper confit, Monte Enebro goats cheese
  • Mini Catalan chorizo with Aspall cider
  • Palourde clams with lemon juice, olive oil and fresh coriander
  • Mushroom croquetas

The whole day was really relaxed and fun, with all the guys taking a real interest in everything I was cooking, and it disappeared as soon as it was plated, which is always a good sign!

Cooking is my passion, and being able to pass on some of that passion and experience to other chefs is a massive buzz. I hope a little bit of what I cooked that day will make its way into the repertoire of the chefs who won this year’s #BestBrigades.

Check out the brilliant video below to see how the day went!

Thanks to Jonathan Harvey-Barnes and the Essential Cuisine team, Freshpix Photography for all these great photos, and of course to Paul and the rest of the HMC brigade… well done guys!