Following the resounding success of last year’s event which saw Stoke City midfielder Rory Delap crowned culinary master as he scored top marks against team mates Ryan Shawcross, and Carlo Nash, Marco Pierre White was invited back by The Potters to put another team of players through their paces preparing a three-course meal under the scrutiny of a judging panel, 280 guests and a bank of TV cameras and reporters from a host of media including Sky Sports News, BBC Midlands Today, BBC Radio Stoke, Radio 5 Live and ESPN.
This year it was Club record signing Peter Crouch, central defender Matthew Upson, and goalkeeper Carlo Nash – a last minute substitute for winger Matthew Etherington – who donned chefs’ whites and provided the entertainment for diners in the Tony Waddington Suite.
Under the watchful eye of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, the trio was challenged to prepare a Seared Salmon Fillet starter, Beef Rib Eye Steak main course, and White Chocolate and Vanilla Cheesecake dessert in a special show kitchen.
Ably aided and abetted by the team of Lindley chefs (Lindley Venue Catering which is based in Stoke-on-Trent provides all of the catering services at the Britannia Stadium) the trio cooked up a storm as they sought to impress the judging panel which comprised last year’s contender and team mate Ryan Shawcross; Adam Elliott – Lindley’ Group’s CEO; Peter Wright – Wright’s Pies; Derith Turner – Lister’s; Lee Barber – Carlsberg; Catherine Dunn – Coca-Cola Enterprises; and Rob Hinsley – Stoke-on-Trent College.
Having been prepped in a pre-event demo by the Lindley team, the players were given pretty much free reign on the night to adapt the recipes and add their own signature touch. With the creative juices flowing Carlo Nash dispensed his chefs to the supermarket three times to buy-in items such as Oreo biscuits, granola and passion fruit to differentiate his cheesecake from his competitors.
However, this year’s culinary crown was awarded to keen cook Matthew Upson who emerged as the clear winner with Crouch coming second and veteran Nash placed third in the cook-off.
“I’ve surprised even myself tonight and I’ve learned a lot about myself. The Upson family will be blessed with my newly found culinary skills,” said the former Arsenal and West Ham United player after being announced as the winner of the competition. “It was all about the experience and having some fun, but I’m really happy to have won. Working with Marco was quite an experience and I’ve learned massively some of the different techniques which are required to put together a meal like that.”
From the proceeds of the event – which also included a raffle and an auction inviting guests to bid for a meal for four at one of Marco’s Londonrestaurants and for Lindley Executive Development Chef, Andy Wardle, to cook a dinner party at the winning bidder’s home – Stoke City FC made a donation of £1,800 to the newly-created Stoke City Community Fund, a grants scheme set up to fund small, local, community projects in Staffordshire and South Cheshire.
Marco’s second Stoke Kitchen was declared a resounding success by everyone involved. Marco said: “It was an absolute honour and privilege to visit Stoke City Football Club for the first event last year and I am delighted to return for this event.”
Stoke City’s Head of Commercial, Andrew Billingham, added: “Marco’s Stoke Kitchen was without doubt one of the most successful off-the-field events of last season. No sooner had we confirmed details of Marco’s return than we had interest from people wishing to book their places and it was fantastic entertainment to watch the players coping with a different kind of pressure.”
Lindley Group’s Andy Wardle who coached and coaxed the players said: “They all had different skill levels – Upson is a keen cook, Crouch had never cooked at all and Nash had last year’s competition experience under his belt.
“They were all a bit nervous at first, but once they got going and into the flow of things they did really well. They were genuinely interested in what we were doing in the kitchen and they all deserve great credit for taking the challenge on.”
Paying tribute to the team effort, Adam Elliott, Lindley Group’s CEO: “The whole event worked really well and the catering team at the Britannia Stadium who helped out at the event should be proud of themselves – they really are a credit to the Lindley Group.”
Lindley Catering Limited