In her first PBUK opinion post, Phoenix Media Network’s business development manager Briony Dunmore recounts her experience of the first Crowdfunded asparagus feast in the UK; highlighting the benefits other produce categories could reap from funding similar profile and exposure building events
I was fortunate last night (May 5) to be a guest at the very first Crowdfunded asparagus feast. Just weeks away from the official start of the British asparagus season, which seems to be awaited with increasing anticipation every year, an all-star line up of chefs cooked up a five-course celebration of asparagus at Yurt Lush in Bristol.
The local chefs preparing the evening’s British asparagus treats represented three of Bristol's top restaurants, alongside up-and-coming Bristolian culinary students. If that wasn’t enough to rev up the diners about the coming season, renowned Guardian wine writer Fiona Beckett provided some alcoholic encouragement with a selection of the perfect drinks to accompany each course.
I’m sorry you couldn’t all have been there to enjoy it, but let me whet your palates with these five steps to foodie heaven:
- The fun began with canapés prepared by Adrian Kirikmaa and the catering students of City of Bristol College, complemented by Castle Brook English Sparkling Wine of the Wye Valley.
- The starter, by Jamie Randall of Adelina Yard, was British asparagus with hand-rolled cavatelli, a slow cooked egg and goat’s cheese, which was exquisitely paired with Gavi di Gavi ‘Nuovo Quadro’.
- That was followed by a fish course of creamed crab, British asparagus, saffron and wild garlic, offered by Seldon Curry at Wallfish Bistro and served with Beckett’s choice of Chateauneuf-du-pape Blanc ‘Les Haunts de Barville’.
- Definitely the most talked-about dish of the evening was the stellar main course by the extremely talented Josh Eggleton from the Michelin-starred The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna. Our table was presented with a whole smoked and slow roasted organic chicken stuffed with truffle (which was expertly carved by Dieter Lloyd of Pam Lloyd PR) on a bed of blanched and chargrilled British asparagus, with sautéed girolle mushrooms and hazelnut with sesame dukkah.
- The evening’s feast was rounded off with some Caerphilly cheese, lambs lettuce and pickled British asparagus with Somerset’s own Orchard Pig Charmer sparkling medium cider.
The Great Asparagus Feast was a true celebration of more than 100 specialised British asparagus growers who stretch from Norfolk to Herefordshire, Staffordshire to West Sussex and Somerset to Warwickshire. Each course featured asparagus from a different grower and region; with each telling their own asparagus story.
Pam Lloyd and team together with the British Asparagus Growers’ Association hosted such a great produce event – I left wishing that I could go to one of these every week. Although every night would be too greedy, I know!
Congratulations too to all of the chefs, growers, students and everyone involved in pulling together such a gastronomic extravaganza and simultaneously feeding and educating diners, who will all now be talking about British asparagus and the experience they shared. The countdown to eight fabulous weeks of dining on British asparagus is officially on… the season is just two weeks away.
The crowdfunding exercise managed to exceed its pledge target of £7,000 with the support of 67 backers and an excellent online awareness campaign led by Pam Lloyd PR on behalf of the British Asparagus Growers’ Association. It’s a pretty simple idea and anyone can do it.
With the interest in British food, and good food in general, I’d be amazed if we don’t see more produce companies and/or organisations going down this route to fund similar profile and exposure building events in the future.