Friday, 15 June 2007

TASTE part 1: we love Alessi

(..not the MRC kind by the way!)

I am pretty useless at this blogging lark – nearly a week has gone by and I have still not managed to get camera, computer and internet connection all together in the same place at the same time. Still not got the photos on the computer but in the mean time I thought I’d start telling the Taste story. Here’s the first instalment anyway…

It was so much fun! A bit smaller than I’d imagined, but lots of good stuff was there. The site was lined with stalls for restaurants and vendors, and then there was a bandstand in the middle plus a few bars etc. 15 restaurants in total, selling 3 dishes each, and lots of free samples from the other stalls including our cheesemongering friends from Mellis (whose stall was continuously mobbed the entire time). There was also a ‘gourmet kitchen’ where they were doing wine tasting sessions and talks, the VIP enclosure, and the Alessi Chef’s Theatre for demos.

When we arrived on Weds we were put to work in the corporate hospitality area setting up tables and getting the drinks in. The highlight of the setting up was when we were asked to go to the chef’s theatre to help unpack the Alessi stuff for the demonstration area and the corresponding display. There was LOADS of it. All brand new and shiny in lots of smart boxes. Better than Christmas! I think the the Alessi people were quite amused at the level of excitement this job had stirred up in us. Incidentally I hadn’t realised that the iconic Phillippe Starck ‘alien’ juicer was an Alessi product until I unpacked a couple of them. Very sleek indeed. There must have been thousands of pounds worth of lovely lovely kitchen hardware there. I have a very big shopping list!

Most of the first day and some of the second was spent serving drinks in the corporate hospitality area however, which was less exciting, especially since the weather was bad and the guests were in there a lot. On Thurs I spent some time clearing away and setting up for the talks in the gourmet kitchen. Mostly picking up glasses and changing the linen, but I got to hear some interesting talks, especially the one from the Scotch Whisky Society. Washing the glasses wasn’t quite so fun but at least we got a few as souvenirs at the end of the festival (SHH!)

On Saturday and Sunday we went up in the world and were allowed to assist Cleere the floor manager of the chef’s theatre. Excellent!! More about that in a separate post, but I have to rant some more about how amazing and lovely all the Alessi kit was. It’s not so common for functional items to be so well designed, hardwearing, and also good to look at. For some of the tablewear perhaps I’ll concede that the money goes into the name and the trendy design, but for the down to earth pots and pans kind of stuff I think you gets what you pays for. And this stuff is good!

It took me until Saturday to realise that the man in charge of the sponsors stand was actually Mr Matteo Alessi of the Alessi family. He also had another Alessi employee working with him, and his wife was also there at the weekend. They were all very nice, and Matteo even used one of the display pasta pots to cook us a tasty lunch in between sessions which was pretty impressive. As we were packing up and preparing to go home after the final session on Sunday, Matteo gave us one of their big shiny casserole pots as a thankyou present which was a fantastic surprise. I got him to sign the box too. It is an impressive oval shaped stainless steel beast with handles on the sides and a fitted lid, dislayed in the pic along with some of the rest of our haul to be detailed at another time. Hob to oven to table once it begins its working life – but for now it’s still on display on the mantlepiece in the lounge like a fine trophy!! I have been trying to find it online, I think it’s the mami stockpot.

Here are a few of my favourite Alessi classics…


Di said...

Food glorious food right enough!! I love alessi too - haven't got any of the real good stuff but I do have the butter dish, the biscut box, the hanging man jars, the floss dispenser....... I am incredibly jealous of your pan and that you met a real life Alessi!!

Sarah W said...

That sounds like a great couple of days and what a surprising treat at the end of it too! Did you know that there is an official Alessi prize giveaway going on at the moment for certain retailers - Go here and see