Filming Saturday Kitchen

(by peter)

This week the Saturday Kitchen bandwagon (a ruthlessly efficient phenomenon, if prone to the occasional meander) rolled into Farnborough in Hampshire.

This town is best known for its air show, held once every other year (it is shared with Paris), at which all kinds of aircraft are put through their paces, from vintage flying machines to high-tech jets, including the Red Arrows.

So we did the natural thing and made a beeline for the aerodrome.

This, we were reliably informed by our guide, is the oldest airfield in Britain, having started out life as a military installation. Though the military eventually mothballed it, the airport was later put to use as a private facility and it is now run by TAG – a family-owned company whose proprietors used to have a small watch company named TAG Heuer, which is now in the possession of LVMH.

It is now, I can reveal, one of the swankiest airports in Britain, the likes of which normal people rarely get to see.

That’s because most of the planes that fly in and out of here are the small, shiny kind owned or chartered by very wealthy people. Sleek Mercedes vans glide across the runways to discharge or load their VIPs onto or from said jets, with the minimum of the usual fuss that accompanies air travel for the rest of us (queues, checking in, strip searches etc).

I was told that immigration checks do take place but these are carried out on-board by officials, so the VIPs don’t have to get out of their seats in the interim.

While we were there, we were asked not to film one particular plane because it was being used by the Malaysian royal family.

One sign of the relaxing of recent restrictions on UK airspace was that planes were landing and taking off while we were there. However, apparently some flights using Farnborough had been operating in the last few days by using a little known (at least to me) flying protocol (VFP??) whereby if the pilot has good visual bearings, he or she is allowed to fly even when other restrictions are in place.

Sounds like an excuse for low-flying for the rich, to me.

All in all, it was a very interesting place to be able to look around, with stunning architecture – plus they do a mean chicken pie in the café.

Here’s a brief video (featuring some very camp running) taken just before we recorded our introductory piece to camera:

We also filmed in Asda and Sainsbury’s, selecting wines to go with some very fine dishes by top chefs Jason Atherton (sea bream with fennel salad and blood orange dressing) and Paul Rankin (chargrilled lamb fillet with garlic puree, borlotti beans, rocket & wild garlic).

The wines showed brilliantly well.

We tried Jason’s dish at the weekend – Susie weaving her customary culinary magic – and it is excellent, even for a committed orange-phobe like me (I believe it belongs anywhere other than savoury dishes – duck being a classic example). But his dish has such a magical harmony and subtlety: it’s sensational. Equally, Paul’s lamb sounds characteristically fantastic.

All of which is more than enough reason to tune in to BBC1 from 10am this Saturday.