Series 1 - Episode 6: Leicester (Exotic Veg)

Episode 6: Leicester (Exotic Veg)

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This week’s show takes place in Leicester and sees the cooks creating mouthwatering recipes involving the Caribbean staple fruit, plantain.

The two professionals taking part in this week’s show are Rahul Gupta and Phil Sharp. Rahul is head chef at the Colourworks restaurant in Leicester, which specialises in European-inspired cuisine. Phil is head chef at the Maiyango Local. As he has spent several years travelling, Phil prefers a more fusion-based method of cooking. Both chefs like to use fresh local produce. “I like to know where my ingredients are coming from,” Rahul says.

Rahul and Phil’s challenge is to search Leicester’s award-winning farmer’s market for the best ingredients they can find. They will then use that produce to create a spectacular two-course meal in an alfresco kitchen in the heart of the town centre, under the watchful eyes of shoppers, traders and the Street Market Chefs judges.

This week, the judging panel features Sean Hope, a Michelin-starred chef and owner of the Olive Branch restaurant in nearby Oakham. “I like little things done well – attention to detail is key,” Sean says. Joining Sean is Rachel Green, a local farmer and chef who is also an ambassador for Leicester market. Rounding off the panel is Herdle White, a local radio presenter and organiser of Leicester Caribbean Carnival. Having grown up on Caribbean cuisine, Herdle has a clear idea of what he is looking for. “The chefs have to feel passionate about the food,” he says.

After selecting their raw ingredients, the chefs are given one special element that they must incorporate into one of their dishes. On this occasion, the ingredient is plantain. Phil prepares honey and ginger roasted plantain with pan-fried sea bass and crispy fried cassava. Rahul cooks honey duck breast with plantain mash with mushrooms, wilted greens and fried plantain crisps.

While the chefs prepare their dishes, Amanda meets stall-holder Dennis Mistri, who takes her home to show her how to cook with the versatile plantain. Amanda then explores the market and even tries her hand at working on a stall to promote its wares. Although she does not increase the stall’s sales, the volume of her yells impresses a nearby trader. “You’ve got a good pair of lungs,” he observes.

As the wind plays havoc on the open-air hobs, it is time to taste the two main dishes. Phil’s meal is so appealing to Herdle that Amanda has to physically slap the fork out of his hand so the judges can taste Rahul’s dish. The quality of both the meals means that there is a split decision for the main course.

It is therefore down to the dessert course to decide the outcome of the competition. Phil whips up seasonal fruit with a Turkish delight sabayon with pistachios, whereas Rahul creates chocolate and raspberry soufflé pancakes with a Grand Marnier sauce. Phil’s fruit-based dessert is low in fat, which cannot be said about Rahul’s chocolate-heavy pudding. “Everything that could possibly be bad for you is in this recipe!” Amanda tells Rahul. Which desert will the judges favour? And which cook will be crowned Leicester’s champion and take home the much sought-after Street Market Chefs plate?

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