This week, Amanda is in Bakewell, where she gives two chefs the challenge of cooking a mouthwatering dish with buffalo meat – an ingredient which neither has used before.
The market town of Bakewell in the Peak District is famous for its puddings, and is home to the second largest farmers' market in the UK. Over 75 stalls sell produce from around the district, with ingredients such as goat meat on sale alongside more traditional local fare such as oat cakes and sweet treats.
Amanda meets Simon Bradley, who is head chef at the local East Lodge hotel. Simon grows a lot of his own vegetables in the hotel garden and favours traditional British cooking. His opponent in the kitchen is Todd Carroll, who is head chef at Nat’s Kitchen in nearby Buxton. Todd is very keen on locally sourced produce and considers himself a progressive chef. “I’m not scared of cooking anything,” he announces.
After hand-picking various ingredients from the market, the chefs meet their three judges – all local women known for their love of food. The week’s mystery ingredient is also revealed to be buffalo, which has half the fat and cholesterol of beef, but a reputation for being slightly harder to prepare. Since neither has ever cooked with buffalo, the chefs are excited at the prospect of broadening their horizons. “We’ll give it a whirl!” Todd says enthusiastically.
The chefs begin by making a starter from their own choice of ingredients. Simon prepares a Derbyshire wood pigeon and pressed ox-tongue club sandwich, using his own award-winning black-pudding bread. Todd has decided to make a stilton soufflé with a side of fennel and watercress salad. “Brave move!” Amanda says. “I’ve only tried to cook a soufflé once before, and it looked like I’d run it over,” she adds. Simon’s dish, which also includes a sweet-corn purée, is much trickier to prepare than the soufflé. Will his efforts be rewarded by the judging panel, or will they plump for Todd’s bold simplicity?
For the main course, Simon makes buffalo with aubergine and confit of tomatoes. Todd prepares a roasted buffalo rib eye with watercress purée. Simon chargrills his aubergines in a heavy skillet whilst marinating his diced fillet in vinegar, salt and pepper. He decides to serve this portion of the meat raw in the style of steak tartare. Todd makes some gratin potatoes and sprinkles them with parmesan, then blends the watercress and spinach to create a purée. He then pan-fries his cut of buffalo and serves with local wild mushrooms.
As the dishes are presented to the judges, it is clear this will be a close call – both the ladies and the chefs state that they are unsure who deserves to be crowned winner of the competition. In the end there can be only one victor –who will hold aloft the coveted Street Market Chefs plate?