Monday, 26 July 2021

Cooking for Elvis is always on my mind

ON Thursday, July 7, I&rsquom cooking for my second Elvis in almost as many months

ON Thursday, July 7, I&rsquom cooking for my second Elvis in almost as many months, writes Paul Clerehugh.

The oil cools when you load chips into a fryer, and an electrical surge is drawn — reheating the cooking oil.

This tripped the power on stage at the Henley Festival 2015 during Bryan Ferry&rsquos mouth organ solo on Jealous Guy.

To my surprise, delight and relief, those lovely people at the Henley Festival have invited my Crooked Billet Pop-Up Gastro Pub back this year.

There will be 250 prime riverside restaurant seats. Interesting, delicious, unpretentious food. Relaxed, informal al fresco dining. No need to book — just turn up.

The stars&rsquo dressing room/green room is part of our pop-up — if you&rsquore after a selfie, or a pint of Rebellion IPA with Dame Shirley Bassey.

Hats off to the festival organisers for booking Elvis Costello. Very on point. We&rsquoll have a very cool and boho audience on Thursday 7th.

Having the green room next to my festival kitchen, I&rsquom privy to their riders, food requirements and funky requests. Will give you all the gossip in my next column.

Unlike the Presley, the Costello is predominantly vegetarian, occasionally enjoys fish. Never meat. I&rsquoll have loads of crunchy, vibrant, colourful, sexy salads, veggie specials and seafood at the festival.

To my bewilderment, I&rsquom cooking for Elvis twice in eight weeks. The last time was a couple of weeks ago in the Chipperfield&rsquos Circus big top at Sir William and Lady McAlpine&rsquos Fawley Hill estate.

A charity dinner, 500 guests, with the world&rsquos number one Elvis tribute, Ben Portsmouth, who with his big band rocked the place. The Lady McAlpine in skintight leathers, centre stage with Elvis, shaking her maracas.

The only tangible difference I noticed between Portsmouth and Elvis Presley was chow. Food consumed, carbs, diet.

The King was renowned for craving Fool&rsquos Gold Loaf — focaccia loaded with bacon, peanut butter and jello. Not to mention fudge cookies, pickles and Shasta&rsquos Black Cherryade.

Disappointingly, Elvis Portsmouth binged on steamed asparagus, puy lentil, vinaigrette, chargriddled greenhouse vegetables, salsa verde, quinoa broad beans — all washed down with gently sparkling Blenheim Palace mineral water. His rider requiring the broad beans peeled from their translucent skins.

Sir William, Lady McAlpine and their revellers raised several thousand pounds for local charities.

On July 7, I guess I&rsquod better hide the crispy duck, slow cooked long-horn salt beef, herbed paprika guinea fowl and African braised goat from Elvis C.

I&rsquom taking my Mr Whippy machine along to pipe ice cream on to dark Belgian chocolate mousse. Bet Elton John will love that.

By the way, Elvis Costello&rsquos first broadcast recording was with his dad in the R White&rsquos Lemonade “I&rsquom a Secret Lemonade Drinker” advert from 1973.

His father wrote and sang, and Elvis — then known as Declan MacManus — provided the backing vocals. Better order R White&rsquos to accompany the Pimm&rsquos, fruit and veg.

• Paul Clerehugh is chef proprietor of the Crooked Billet, Stoke Row, and London Street Brasserie, Reading. Catch Paul every week on Food on Friday (2pm, BBC Radio Berkshire) for lighthearted food chat, recipes and current affairs.

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