One of America’s most popular celebrity chefs visited the North East this week to serve up a real treat for aspiring student cooks.
Top TV chef Tory McPhail visited Middlesbrough College to share his story with culinary students, offer advice and demonstrate how to prepare traditional dishes from his hometown.
The visit formed part of a culinary and agricultural diplomacy program launched by the U.S. Embassy that brings celebrated American chefs to the UK as culinary ambassadors, showcasing a variety of regional cuisines, local specialities and cultural influences.
Tory, who is currently Executive Chef at famous New Orleans restaurant Commander’s Palace, said: “People have a perception of American food – they know Starbucks and Budweiser and Kentucky fried chicken – but this gives us an opportunity to teach people about real authentic American food.
“These days, through technology, anyone can go online and write a blog post or leave a review on social media, but to hear advice from chefs who’ve dedicated their lives to working in great restaurants, making people happy and giving back to their community, that’s a real source of education.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston was also on hand at the College to help Tory prepare a traditional Creole seafood gumbo – the official state dish of Louisiana.
Andy said: “Great things are happening in Teesside and we’ve got so much to be proud of – and it’s great to be able to show off our thriving food scene to Tory and his team.
“We’re planning lots of exciting events and festivals – which we’ll be announcing very soon – and we can’t wait to showcase Middlesbrough’s passion for food, just like Tory has been doing here.”
Along with his industry peers, Tory will travel the country engaging with British chefs, restaurateurs, other culinary students and agricultural producers to learn about British foods and share his expert perspectives on the diversity of American cuisines, food and agriculture.
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Tory, his team and the U.S. Embassy to Middlesbrough College.
“Tory is a popular household name in the states and a TV regular – appearing on shows including Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ and NBC’s ‘Today’ – so to have someone of his influence sharing top tips was invaluable.
“All of our students are hungry to learn and through strong links and partnerships with businesses and employers, Middlesbrough College can offer first class routes to exciting and fulfilling careers.”
As part of his visit, Tory also got an opportunity to meet with local businesses, producers and chefs involved with the Growing Middlesbrough initiative to hear about the area’s rapidly-growing food scene.