|I made badges
It was all a misunderstanding.
It snowballed, as these things do, and so Gail Doggett (One Million Gold Stars), Danny Kingston (Food Urchin), Arianna Halshaw (Bittersweet Bakers), Andre Dang and ended up deciding to hold a tribute Star Wars dinner for charity.
|Stir Wars Menu endorsed by Lord Vader himself
We'd call it Stir Wars and we'd hold it on May the Fifth (because Stir Wars isn't actually Star Wars, one day out didn't seem to matter).
We chose to support the Make A Wish Foundation, and then set forth on securing as many donated items as possible so that all profits went to charity.
|The Stir Wars team in front of Tsuru
First things first - we needed a venue. I approached Tsuru, one of my favourite Japanese restaurants, owned by the lovely Emma Reynolds, as she's always been happy to get involved with this kind of foodie frolic, and she'd already offered to help Grazing Asia in the past.
Tsuru and Emma were on board like a shot, and we were over the moon as their branch in Bishopsgate was the perfect setting for our Death Star Cantina - space age steel, glass and AT-ATs abounded.
Next we needed a menu - for which we needed ingredients. We threw ourselves at the mercy of the world, and thankfully, the following people answered our prayers:
|See Woo supplies
See Woo Foods (my favourite Oriental supermarket) went way beyond the call of duty and not only agreed to provide everything I needed for my course, but even drove it round to my house the day beforehand (and I live in the sticks).
|Wampa haunch aka Donald Russell pig cheeks
Donald Russell provided the meat - probably the most vital ingredient of all - and kindly butchered it to our slightly mad specifications.
|Beef ribs butchered to look alien by Donald Russell
The Japan Centre provided specialist ingredients for my course - green and orange flying fish roe (aka tobiko) and salmon caviar (aka ikura).
|Wasabi tobiko from Japan Centre
Complete heroes Asda provided pretty much everything else - AND they stepped into the breach and saved our arses when our original supplier dropped out for no reason.
Drinks were donated by Les Caves de Pyrene, Norfolk Cordial and Tsuru themselves.
We were also sent donations to use as prizes from DK Books, Firebox, King's Fine Food, and Mister Eddie Izzard himself.
We needed to justify those prizes, and thankfully Jedi Master Gary Fenn aka Big Spud devised a fiendish Star Wars trivia quiz for us.
|The prizes for the Star Wars quiz
Somehow, we ended up with the best in the business - Oisin Rogers and Phil White of the legendary The Ship pub in Wandsworth, and the newly opened The Thatched House in Hammersmith.
So everything was in place. I went a bit Blue Peter and made badges, designed posters, and cut out stormtrooper snowflakes.
We made a ridiculous website and several ridiculous videos. Hell, Stir Wars even made it into the Evening Standard.
Now we just needed to cook.
Here's how our final menu looked:
STIR WARS – A NIGHT AT THE DEATHSTAR CANTINA
Prime Bantha Back Ribs marinated in Glitterstym and Ryll with a side ofAunt Beru’s Lost ‘Slaw and Double C Fries (Danny)
I loved designing the starter and was pretty chuffed at just how geeky I'd made it - I wanted to recreate Luke's sojourn in the belly of a Tauntaun.
I dyed udon noodles blue, as I figured they'd look more intestinal, dressed them in ponzu and chilli, cut little Lukes out of Vietnamese ham, then wrapped the lot in rice paper. You know, so people could dig in and rescue young Skywalker.
I added a frozen minted pea slush to cut through the spice (Hoth Snow), slices of tender roasted pig cheeks for a bit more oomph (Wampa haunch), and then topped with the jewel-like Japanese fish roe to add surprise and texture as they popped (Drutash grubs).
It was my job to provide canapés too. For space age nibbles, I popped corn and then shook it with furikake and purple shiso sprinkles, and made purple crisps out of Violette potatoes.
I also made Deathstar bites with See Woo's fab spicy tom yum fish-balls and pickled leeks, and puff pastry swirls with homemade Burmese balachaung (a relish like sambal) which I dubbed Vagnerian canapés but which in hindsight were clearly Leia buns.
I don't actually remember much of the night except the sheer terror of being trapped by a stormtrooper when I was coming out of the loos.
But I know everyone had a good time - see all the photos from the night taken by the wonderful Ozzy aka karohemd who was also donating his services and the review by Lovefood.com here - and we raised £1,600 for the Make A Wish Foundation.
Thank you so, so much to everyone involved, but especially to my comrades Danny, Arianna and Gail - it was a blast.
Indiana Jones next?
Our kind sponsors and donors are listed in full HERE.
|Food Urchin grapples the bantha ribs
|My starter described by Love Food as "the star of the show and the ultimate geek homage"
|Phil White and Oisin Rogers of the Ship and the Thatched House pubs
|Genuinely the best beef ribs in the world by Danny Kingston (Food Urchin)
|Danny Kingston (Food Urchin) and Arianna Halshaw (Bittersweet Bakers)
|Aunt Beru's Lost 'Slaw
|Stormtrooper Cookies by Gail Doggett (One Million Gold Stars) and Bittersweet Bakers
|Gin and Tonic Jelly by Gail Doggett (One Million Gold Stars) and Bittersweet Bakers
|Unsurprisingly, Boba Fett won the quiz