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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Ainsley Harriott

SUPERSTAR chef Ainsley Harriott was at his flamboyant best when he “shimmied” back into Whitehaven for his second hugely successful festival appearance on Saturday.

Ainsley served up a treat for fans who gathered on the Sugar Tongue for his highly entertaining cookery demonstrations, having danced on to the stage to James Brown classic, Sex Machine.

“It’s wonderful to be back,” said Ainsley, who showed how to make the perfect crispy chicken with lentils and mouth-watering salmon fishcakes.

“It’s a lovely journey getting up here, through the stunning Lake District, and once you arrive, it’s absolutely magnificent, both the location and the people.

“The reception I’ve had has been so warm and I can’t thank the people of Whitehaven enough.

“I loved Katherine Jenkins’ concert on Friday night, she was absolutely sparkling and I even had a little shimmy along!”

Key to Ainsley’s demonstrations, he told The Whitehaven News, was “demystifying” food – showing that cooking good food is quick, easy, enjoyable, and, most importantly, accessible to anyone.

“Previously, people would make an effort and cook or go out for a meal on special occasions.

“Now good food is much more accessible and people are more relaxed and comfortable with it and the intimidation factor has been taken away.

“That’s the journey we’ve all been on. It started with the likes of the late, great Keith Floyd who lead the way, followed by Delia Smith, Gary Rhodes and myself, and now it’s someone else’s turn to carry it forward.

“But I believe that it’s not about individuals, it’s about moving forward as an industry as a whole and inspiring people to have a go and see what they can achieve – which I know can be a great deal.

“I hope people have enjoyed the demonstrations, had a laugh and have learned something at the same time.”

Having begun his media career in radio, Ainsley first shot to national fame on Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook, and then Ready Steady Cook in the mid-1990s.

With almost 2,000 shows broadcast before it ended last year, Ready Steady Cook remains the longest running cookery show in the world, Ainsley is proud to say.

After his visit to Whitehaven, it was off back to London to celebrate the rest of the Diamond Jubilee weekend. Ainsley was due to cook a lunch of mustard-glazed roast beef, which he had left to marinade before even heading up to Whitehaven, for 30 guests at an event in the capital on Monday.

Up next television-wise for Ainsley is a new series of The Great British Food Revival, that will hit the screens in September, and he has also been filming features for The One Show that will be broadcast in the coming months.

And as a big football fan, Ainsley is currently counting down to Euro 2012.

“My heart obviously says England will win – even though we always put too much pressure on the lads – but my head says Holland or Spain,” he said.

“As an Arsenal fan, I know how good [Holland striker] Robin van Persie is – he just never seems to miss – and I think he’ll be the star of the show.”

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