I remember exactly where I was when I got the call. Sat on the side of a motorway gorging unashamedly on a warm bag of chips that had been soaked with vinegar, the flimsy brown paper vessel that held it quickly turning to mulch as the vinegar soaked through. Truth be told, working in the woods isn’t as glamorous as people make it out to be and I had skipped breakfast and lunch altogether as events had unfolded throughout a characteristically busy day so there I was. Sitting. Enjoying a brief moment of sanity and solitude in an otherwise febrile environment.
The man on the other end of the phone was a gentleman from the BBC who had worked previously as a producer for a show called The Apprentice. He had a calm, gentle and assuring voice. He said he had seen Nomadic on Instagram and wanted to know if we would be interested in filming a production called Future Food Stars with Gordon Ramsay which was to air the following summer in our woods. He continued to brief me on the pretext of the show. Future Food Stars was to be a celebration of the next generation of British culinary talent. Gordon would select the best and brightest and put them to the test. And notably different to all other shows this was not about shaming individuals but instead celebrating their talent. After some reassurance I agreed to the filming and we set about brainstorming ideas for the episode. The contestants were to be put into two teams – a red team and a green team and would produce their own feast over fire which Gordon would oversee for the guests to score. The rest is now history.
And so it came to be. One early morning on a gloriously hazy summer day in June around the solstice a flock of approximately 200 film crew descended upon a quaint corner of the English countryside to film what we were told by the producer in a thick brummie accent would be a celebration of British culinary talent. I am not certain this was the case and judging by the reaction of the audience that tuned in to watch the program I fear we may have been led down the proverbial garden path. Serving honey to a vegan made entertaining TV nonetheless. The pollen count was high on the day and one of the film crew resorted to applying tampons in both nostrils as a makeshift solution to his hayfever. Gordon Ramsay was on top form as always. He rode in on our quad bike after several panicked attempts to get it started. I had a brief chat with him about love, life and food and he was very polite and friendly. From our brief conversation I concluded he may well be one of the nicest people I have met in spite of his on screen persona.
And as the sun began to set and the film crew that had made its way to us packed up their gear the whole thing felt a bit like a dream that had never happened. The type of dream that makes you soil the sheets from a mixture of excitement and anxiety. And yet somehow it had. And that is how we got on the telly.