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#CocoChef : Travel through food with MasterChef’s Hannah Gregory

You may have seen wonder woman Hannah Gregory on MasterChef earlier this year. She's also an epic member of our TeamCocoGang an a regular ear for our team lamenting about missing foods from travels. Hannah has rounded up her top tips for travelling through food below.

You may have seen wonder woman Hannah Gregory on MasterChef earlier this year. She’s also an epic member of our TeamCocoGang and a regular ear for our team lamenting about missing foods from travels.

Hannah has rounded up her top tips for travelling through food below. Be sure to head to her interview over here for more tasty wanderlust.

Kitchen travels – where to start

“This year, I’ve really tried to capitalise on the fact that we suddenly had all this time on our hands in our own home. It was the first summer I haven’t been away working for six years so I made the most of it. I got VERY intimate with my barbecue and really learnt the process of long slow cooks, the importance of the correct charcoal, different types of heat etc and paid homage (or tried to) to all the amazing smoke houses we went to in America.

When the weather wasn’t playing ball I devoured the Dishoom cook book. A lot of the recipes in there are day long affairs but it is so worth it – I don’t think I’ll ever make a ‘simple’ curry again. The fact that you can make their house dhal at home is mind blowing to me – it does take a long time, six hours I think but that’s fine, whack on a podcast, get comfy, bottle of red nearby – winning day for me.

With the restrictions put in place I couldn’t host my supper clubs over the summer but like everyone else, I did a little pivot and offered a take away service called ‘Around the world with WanderSups’. Every week was a different country / menu and the idea was that it was to help people recreate holiday vibes with banging food. We went to Turkey, Greece, Mexico, The Caribbean and the USA – it was great fun and a huge success.

How to recreate that travel experience

“I think one of the most important things is recreating the experience, not just the food. Pop on a playlist that reminds you of the place you miss, look through old photos, light candles or incense of scents that transport you back to that place. Food is so much more than just the eating, it is about igniting all the senses.

It becomes very easy to get into a ‘food rut’ at home, especially when we are in lockdown or under restrictions. All of a sudden you take stock and realise your sofa is actually now the dining table and Hollyoaks has replaced conversation. Try and make even a simple meal feel like an occasion, set the table with flowers and tea lights, use your best linen, decant the wine. So often our fondest memories of meals whilst travelling have been about escapism as well as the food and by making these little tweaks to our at home meals, we can try and recreate that.”

Crafting the perfect club sandwich – the most missed foodie thing according to Team Coco

“The age old debate is chicken vs turkey. Personally I always go for chicken, turkey should be reserved for Christmas only IMO. If you want to really capture the luxe of a great hotel club there are a couple of things you need to do….

  • The meat: always cook your protein yourself, none of this shop-bought cooked chicken stuff. It always tastes like cardboard. If you are having a Sunday roast, cook a chicken and syphon off some slices of breast for your club before serving. Alternatively, season a skin-on chicken breast and fry in olive oil ‘til golden all over before roasting in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and slice ready for sandwich assembly. If you are feeling really extra and have the kit, sous vide and brine your chicken breast, this will ensure the softest, juiciest meat that it is incomparable to anything else – this is my preferred method.
  • The bacon – fry slices of pancetta in a dry frying pan, due to the fat content this will result in crispy, salty porky goodness and ensure the crunch in the sandwich.
  • The mayo – well actually the aioli, that’s right, you heard. No time for mayo in this sarnie – rather lashings of garlic flavoured joy. Again, making from scratch is always going to yield the best results but shop bought will be accepted.
  • Bread – for me it is always a fresh white bloomer. There is no time for fannying about with Sourdough and such here.
  • Butter – so often over-looked but so important. Baron Bigod raw butter is the ultimate finisher for this sandwich. It takes everything to an 11. If you can’t find any then bring unsalted organic butter to room temp and add your own Maldon salt (smoked Maldon – even better). I never buy salted butter as I was once told by a dairy farmer that it is usually a lower grade product and the salt is added to mask the taste. So there you have it.

Closing words of advice…

“I always have a bag of masa flour in the cupboard because the smell transports me straight back to Mexico and it means I can stick my head it and inhale whenever I need a pick me up and make fresh tacos as needed (at least once a week).

There are so many great online suppliers of niche ingredients now, if there is something you are really missing then have a google, chances are you can find it. I recently got a shipment of Malawian coffee – my absolute fave and now have a morning ritual, I get up and sit and drink my coffee, listen to the same song that I had on repeat during my time out there and then go about my day. It’s such a small thing but it makes me so happy.”

For more from Hannah Gregory, check out her interview here. Hannah Gregory will also be appearing in our next print volume STAYCATION, out in early January.

Follow Hannah Gregory @wandersups

Check out Hannah Gregory’s WanderSups to create your own travel inspired dining experience

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Anna Willatt
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