Richie and Laura Alsop are the brains and beauty behind the Facebook movement ‘Quarantine Cuisine’ and some of Chesterfield’s biggest and best events, including the Street Food and Groves and the Chesterfield Food and Drink Festivals. Together they are Edge Events, a dynamic duo on a mission to bring the flavours of the world to the residents of Chesterfield during lockdown and beyond.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 they have had to cancel several of their events. I know, I’m as gutted as you are. I will not be getting my twice-yearly fix of Disco Fries! However, being the entrepreneurial foodies that they are, they had an idea. A great idea!
"When we announced that all our summer outdoor events were postponed until next year, we got an overwhelming response of sympathy from the public that we weren’t expecting at all. In response to this we came up with the idea of ‘Quarantine Cuisine’. The concept was straight forward and would enable to show our appreciation for the public's support over the years, because without them our events simply wouldn’t exist. We a created a community platform via a Facebook group page where people share their ‘food & drink’ related photos, recipes and step by step instructions, which people can then replicate in their own kitchens. The group welcomes food from all around the world and we also ask for their favourite tipple to wash it down with. It’s a fun idea and it offers a tiny bit of distraction during these tricky times. At the end of the day who doesn’t like to dance around their kitchen cooking their favourite drink and having a few drinks at the same time?"
Richie kindly sent us an invitation to join the group shortly after it was set up and it began to grow, quickly! “We reached over 1000 group members in a week which we were really chuffed with! I think people find it welcoming, interactive and interesting due to all the new recipes introduced them. It also offers a productive distraction during these strange times, bringing like-minded people together (foodies) in a safe place”.
The group has members from all walks of life and cooking abilities. From John, the Head Chef at the Three Cottages to me, reasonable with a toaster and a microwave. Whether you’re a professional Chef looking for new recipes, or just looking to try something new. There is something for everyone here.
"There are so many tasty dishes and what we want to offer is a non-judgement page. There are lots of chefs in the group and a lot of people who have less experience or just started cooking. What we do is make sure the page is welcome to all levels. The page is offering so many different cooking styles and food groups. Meat, seafood, vegetarian, vegan, there really is something to match all pallets”.
Despite most of the country being on lock-down, many of our local independent food suppliers are open and in need of our business. There has never been a better time to shop local and support our economy. Sourcing your ingredients locally is a great way to do this.
"The best way to source ingredients, whether it’s fresh meat and veg or ground spices for a curry, is to ring the local businesses or message them via Facebook. Ask what they have in stock and tell them what you need. We are really trying our hardest to spread the spend across as many businesses as possible to make sure we at least give a bit to help them through these tricky times. Especially, if there is no delivery service as it means we can really help spread our spending. Many outlets are being so helpful when we contact them. Some have even delivered the food within an hour, which we couldn’t believe! Communication is the best way to work with these businesses and to source the ingredients."
Edge Events plan on keeping ‘Quarantine Cuisine’ going post lock-down and have some innovative ideas on how to keep us all engaged and entertained during this challenging period.
"We already have some plans in place to give it longevity. The cook-a-long sessions we are filming from our own front garden is showing our intent of trying to build on the group and keep moving it forward. We already have guest chefs lined up from the group and production are on board. The events launched on Saturday 9th May at 6pm. The first one will feature Edge Events. It will be relaxed, informal and a lot slower than how the professionals do. I’m sure people will be able to keep."
Words: Paul Chapman Image: Edge Events