IT’S not cheating really. Just meticulous preparation. To avoid the walk of shame in front of some of the region’s finest chefs and restaurateurs at Monday’s Too Many Critics dinner.
Iberica Spinningfields is the latest venue for this annual fundraiser for humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger. This year, by popular demand (well maybe not) Taste of Manchester editor Neil Sowerby is joining the band of food critics each cooking a course to be judged by the professionals at the banquet.
We are not sure cut-throat the competition is but Neil has been taking no chances with his allotted dish, asparagus on toast – a big favourite at the Spanish restaurant he has to give his own personal twist to.
To that end he has been picking the brains of chef friends and even sneaking into the Iberica kitchens in advance to check how chef Nacho Linares prepares it. Indeed getting so close to the chef action he almost singed his hand on the grill (below).
Some tweaks have been agreed, but Neil’s not giving away his secret recipe. No molecular gastronomy will be involved and he just hopes it will look as nice as in our main picture. Nor is he confirming he’s carrying a first aid kit in with him on Monday (20th).
His critic rivals include; Bill Knott (The FT’s How to Spend It), Joe Warwick (Where Chefs Eat), Emma Sturgess (Delicious Magazine), Mark ‘Gordo’ Garner (Manchester Confidential), Emily Heward (Manchester Evening News) and Ruth Allan (Manchester Wire). (Allan, Garner, Knott and Heward pictured below.)
All funds raised at the event, in association with Northern Restaurant and Bar 2017 (March 21 and 22), go to Action Against Hunger – helping them to fund life-saving projects around the globe in over 47 countries, assisting more than 13.5m people each year.
This year, guests will be welcomed with a Champagne Taittinger reception, before the critics are put through their paces to create some traditional tapas dishes from patatas bravas to grilled Ibérico pork.
The critics will be judged by some of the Norths best chefs, including; Aiden Byrne from Manchester House, Steven Smith from The Freemasons at Wiswell, Lisa Allen of Northcote and Paul Askew from The Art School.
A few extra tickets have been made available for this public event. They cost £70 a head plus booking fee. Clickhere to purchase them.
Guests will also have the opportunity to bid on a host of exclusive and money-can’t-buy experiences and items in Live and Silent Auctions.
Juan Pedro Domecq Jamón Ibérico, Beronia Crianza Red Wine and Sanclodio D.O. Ribeiro White Wine are sponsoring the event..
Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organisation that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger. The organisation saves the lives of malnourished children, ensures families can access clean water, food, training and healthcare, and enables entire communities to be free from hunger.
AAH’s Caroline Dyertold us: “Too Many Critics is a unique and fun experience where critics, foodies, chefs and industry professionals all come together to help raise vital funds for Action Against Hunger. We’re looking forward to seeing which of the critics can create the best tapas, hopefully topping last year’s total of £19,000 in the process.”
Ana Ochando, Head of Marketing at Iberica Restaurants, said: “We’re very excited to be holding Too Many Critics at Iberica this year, the event is an opportunity for Manchester and the North’s restaurant community to come together and help tackle worldwide child hunger. We’re looking forward to seeing what the critics can produce in the kitchen. Tapas may look easy to make but there is an art to this style of cooking, which I’m sure they will soon discover!”
Too Many Critics for Action Against Hunger, Monday, March 20. 6pm-11.30pm. Ibérica Spinningfields, 14-15 Hardman Street, Manchester M3 3HF.