2018-A year in review

2018-A year in review

2018 started like any other new year for me. Mainly being airbourne flying back to the UK. Although I knew events in the coming months were going to make 2018 anything but a standard year.

MasterChef began in mid march and the final was just over a month later. I’d managed to keep it a secret, so a lot of people got a welcome surprise when I popped up on their TV screens. What did I learn from the show? You certainly push yourself, John and Gregg help to nurture you into what makes a great plate of food. They are both fantastic and such great support. My expectations were quite simple. Survive the invention test, wheel out the beetroot sorbet and then fingers crossed for the next round.

Beetroot sorbet, smoked chicken, blue cheese salad

Despite what the “critics” said about this. I’ve now served it to over five hundred people and not had one complaint. People are generally blown away by the texture of the sorbet. Its super smooth and velvety. Shame the only three people in the world that didn’t get it were on national TV! My next dish was my Iberico Presa.

I’ve served this many times too, one person commented that despite eating in some of the best restaurants in the country, this was the best plate of food he’d ever eaten. I’m not saying its the best, but I don’t know any better.

Apple Crumble Mille feuille

Highlight of the show for me was cooking for the great chefs. Its unfair to single any of them out. They were all such great guys and I learnt from each them. Francesco Mazzei, Tommy Banks, Nathan Outlaw, Gaston Acurio, Virgilio Martinez (watch his Chefs Table on Netflix if you’ve not seen it.), Ashley Palmer-Watts and Johnny Glass. Without doubt Episode 24 when I cooked for Ashley and then unveiled my apple crumble mille-feuille was the best episode for me. The best dish I cooked was the careless wispa. I don’t think anyone can appreciate how difficult chocolate is to work with until you’ve tried it.

Careless Wispa

 

I have to be honest and after coming second in a BBC TV show that was watched by 8 million people I expected a few interesting opportunities in my inbox. It was a deadly silence apart from doing a couple of demos at the Foodies Festivals. There is an understandable bias to the winner, who wants a runner up? Doing well on a TV cooking show certainly lets you bypass some of the culinary hierarchy. You are just received as someone who knows what they’re doing, rather than having to work your way through the ranks of a kitchen.

I took the initiative myself and arranged a pop-up at Laithwaites in Alderley Edge. This is the best thing I’ve done by far. I have now done twelve pop-ups and every single one was a sell out. Long may it continue. I love doing the pop-up as its just big enough that I can do all the cooking, and have a couple of helpers to plate up on the day. It is literally like having my own restaurant without any commitments. I’ll change the menu every six weeks and luckily people haven’t got bored of my style yet. Although I am going to cook a Japanese themed menu in the New Year. Probably put my miso caramel chocolate tart on.

A few other people approached me throughout the year. I’ve hosted evenings at restaurants in Manchester city centre, done a few private dining events, cooking demos and videos and been sold at auction for a phenomenal figure to name but a few. All the while covering best part of 250,000 miles in the air! I have a couple of long term projects/goals that I will now spend my time pursuing. Some of it is out of my hands, but could be huge if it comes to fruition. One is to get the wispas into my own online boutique. I need to run them through the labs first though to check shelf life and delivery options. Not an easy job. In the meantime I’ll just keep up with the day job and the pop up at Laithwaites.

Highlights of year will have to be working at Per Se in New York. New Yorks most famous restaurant, second in the US only to Thomas Kellers original three michelin restaurant The French Laundry. It was such an honour to cook there for the day. Thomas Keller was actually in the day I was there. He came round and said hello to each member of staff and treated me like everyone else. A compliment of the highest order really. I’d love to have gotten a photo with him, but I’m not that sort of person and I don’t think he is either. At about 2130 the chefs I was helping run the starters with asked what restaurant I’d come from. (As lots of chefs come in for trials). They were a little taken aback when I told them my office is at 36,000′.

Per Se, compressed melon, cucumber flowers, basils seeds and caramelisedmacadamias

Best thing I’ve eaten all year is a tough one. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff, a lot of stuff that should be great but wasn’t! Best meal was certainly at Dinner by Heston with the Tipsy Cake winning best dish of the year.

Nothing in life is easy, but if you’re willing to work as hard as possible you never know where it might take you. I’ve loved every minute of cooking this year, but I take my hat off to everyone who works in this industry. Restaurant life is brutal, rewarding but relentless. I’ll just stay on the sidelines dabbling my toe in.

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Christopher Harbour

    I have been lucky enough to taste and see how his ama,ing food is created. It is sensational and delicious. I have eaten in the best restaurants and this is up there with them. Keep going David it’s amazing.

  2. Dave your food is gorgeous and we are very proud of you. Loved our night at Laithwaites, oh those Wispas! X

    • Dave Crichton

      Thanks Betty, I’ve even had a brainwave on the way back from Goa for getting my wispas out and about commercially!

  3. JT and I were just reminiscing about watching you on Master Chef last April while we were puppy-sitting in Arizona, what fun that was. You eere incredible, how you kept your cool under such pressure is beyond me. Your food definitely looked the best, such a shame that you didn’t win. We were all hoping you would. It’s strange that all went silent after the show, I wonder if it was the same for Nawamin? Nonetheless, I’m very happy that your pop up initiative is the success that it is, JT and I hope to try it sometime in the future. We wish you and Zahra a wonderful and healthful new year.

    • Dave Crichton

      Hi Eva, I hope you and JT are having a wonderful time in Arizona. The weather will undoubtedly be nice!

      I’ve actually watched a couple of episodes back again myself. At the time I always concentrated on any negatives, but it was all fantastic.

      I’d love you to come to one of my pop ups, I’m sure it would be easier for you to come to mine if you’re the area though.

      I’m very close to Nawamin, he’s unbelievably busy. He had an agent after the show and he’s busy working on a few things now. Like his cookbook. I can’t wait to try his recipes. His food is sublime.

      All the best for a Christmas and New Year. I look forward to next years goings on.

  4. Agnieszka Adye

    Dear Dave, you should be so proud. Many people don’t achieve in lifetime what you achieved in one year. Hard work and passion is key. We live in Belgium but follow UK Masterchef since years. Remember watching you of course. I do hope that you will have a chance to have some pop ups in London as we would love to taste your food. I am myself a wine enthusiast, especially food and wine matching and know that passion can be so enriching and stimulating. Wishing you all the best in 2019. Agnieszka.

    • Dave Crichton

      Thanks Agnieszka. I’d love you to come and have a go at wine pairing my food. More often than not I tend to throw a curve ball in. Like the Presa above. Everyone would pair it with red wine but it just doesn’t work. Mainly because of the carrot ketchup which is very acidic. A Riesling was the answer.

      Thank you for your words of encouragement throughout the year too. It’s always nice for a complete stranger to reach out. Hope you have a great festive period.

      Dave

  5. Congratulations David on a fantastic year, your food is wonderful and we certainly had a great time at Laithwaites. Long may it continue and enjoy every minute of it. xx

  6. David, you had an amazing year and my wish is that the new one will be just as memorable. I hope Christmas was everything you wanted it to be and then some.

    • Dave Crichton

      Thank you Karen. It certainly was a grand year. I doubt this year will be as busy.

      Hope you’ve had a nice Xmas and have a fantastic new year celebration planned.

      Dave.

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