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Cook like a culinary genius thanks to an online tutorial

Down Wholesale, 275 Killaughey Road, Donaghadee. Tel: 028 9188 3497


Fresh fruit and veg from Down Wholesale

Fresh fruit and veg from Down Wholesale

Fresh fruit and veg from Down Wholesale

The more I realise how miserable are my culinary talents, the more I pine to get out to a good restaurant. More than ever, I appreciate the work that goes into restaurant meals, the sourcing of the ingredients, the strict adherence to local produce, the attention given to creating menus, the kitchens running with precision under the direction of great chef leaders, and the service; all are undervalued until you have spent a few days trying to make do in your own house.

What chefs can do with a box of matches and a bag of onions is clearly beyond me. I order the same top class produce from Down Wholesale for home delivery but what I do with this stuff is sad and pathetic.

I am relegated to the easiest of buzzfeedtasty recipes and whatever is accessible in those cookbooks for gombeens.

But this daily lesson in humility, combined with house arrest and four mouths to feed three times a day, spurs me on to do better.

Working from home takes up most of the day and the temptation to rely on delivered Chinese and pizzas is hard to resist.

Although I am profoundly saddened that one of the best street food artists in Belfast, Alper Cildir of Turkey Street Food, had to abandon his food collection initiative (he had to close his tiny city centre restaurant and then briefly attempted to do four course lunches for collection for a tenner, some of which we enjoyed at the weekend and which I was about to review) I am, in a way encouraged to face reality: takeaways are not the answer.

Ambition and self-confidence are what's needed here.

So I've thrown away the cookbooks for the stupid and have turned my attention to the world's greatest chefs instead.

The architects of new culinary structures and formulae, the giants of the international restaurant sector, chefs turned molecular scientists and culinary gods like Jose Andres, the Spanish born humanitarian and chef patron of the Bazaar restaurants in Miami and Los Angeles are my new inspiration.

The adviser and I ate in the Miami one not long ago and still rate it as among the most memorable eating experiences of our lives.

The dining room was, for one thing, a chapel of comfort, seduction and gently lit luxe, the kind that even calms down coked up oligarchs, (security is tight too).

The menu is deceptive, full of references to classic Spanish dishes including tortilla and roast pork belly, and gazpacho.

But in Bazaar not everything is as it seems and we are served extraordinary renditions of these familiar tapas, some spliced to a Japanese influence such as the taco with grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi and pork chicharonnes, for which we developed a habit and downed half a dozen (at 12 bucks a hit and that was just part of the starters).

So, I'm thinking, I'm going to aim high and be the Jose Andres of Newtownbreda. And as if by magic, there's Chef Jose on Instagram doing how-to videos in his home kitchen. I find him preparing something I think I can master: a spicy lentil soup.

Not too tricky. I watch intently as he literally flings ingredients wholesale into a pot. No chopping of anything, no tweezers or stressing out, just a lot of laughing, shouting and splashing.

The six-minute video changes my life (he's on Instagram as chefjoseandres) and I immediately get on the phone to Adam at Down Wholesale and order the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, potatoes, garlic.

I find a box of dried lentils in the back of the cupboard and a string of dried, infernally hot chillies I got in a market in Turkey last summer and get to work.

The quality of the vegetables, the voice of the master and 45 minutes of careful copying, I present the spicy lentil soup to the three hungry piglets and silence descends.

It might not have the precision, mastery or magic of his Japanese taco, but it is probably the best thing I've ever cooked. And the easiest. The ingredients came to less than £4.50 and you can get most of the stuff delivered to your door.

Belfast Telegraph