Join me as I travel over the rainbow to Oz, not that Oz! but that beautiful antipodean land of down under, Australia. Where from my catamaran right in the shadow of the Sydney Opera House I conjure up some awe-inspiring burgers. Then travelling onwards to Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef to sample some of the best seafood dishes I have ever tasted and meet the chefs who create them.
In this series Phil travels to Alaska, Vietnam, and Israel to discover how these vastly different cultures affect their food and cuisine. From the massive, sustainable seafood industry in Alaska, to the incredible street food of Vietnam and huge markets of Israel.
Yes, yes I thought great fun, cook, eat, drink, film and watch the football! It never really works like that when you first get told you’re going filming. This was a trip before the World Cup, taking in the atmosphere, the build up, the food the culture, but wait for it…not a football stadium or ball in sight. In fact we never mentioned the World Cup or football at all in 10 days. On reflection I can see why, the telly was crammed with the stuff, even me an ardent football lover, was getting a bit sick of it. Plus I was not filming on my own; show biz reporter on ITV’s This Morning, Alison Hammond was coming along too. I wasn’t quite sure how it would knit together. In the end we had a wail of a time and the finished films, I hope you will agree, are fun to watch.
Over the past couple of years I have been very fortunate to have visited and filmed in quite a few countries. All have been very different and my next trip to India was to be no different. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect, my wife certainly loved it when she cycled there a couple of years ago. She did say that the cities are so overcrowded that it makes London look like a country village.
I have to admit that the real extent of my knowledge of Peru was probably the basic stuff we learnt at school and the fact that it was the birthplace of the famous Paddington bear. There was also the war with Chile I vaguely remember from newsreels. Nothing was really going to prepare me for my latest trip. Yes I always do basic research, vaccinations, clothes, scripts and making sure passports and visas are up to date, but I did not really understand the full extent of how vast South America is. The trip was to be split into 3 areas, flying to Lima first, and onto the amazon basin. Then up to Cusco the legendary capital of the Inca’s and then finally onto Machu Picchu, the ancient lost city. We all met at Gatwick, Janice my boss and Sam the cameraman who I have both filmed with before and Chris the soundman, a friend of another cameraman I know. He’s a Ben Fogle lookalike, slightly younger with a good sense of humour.
It was time to start thinking about my last trip in the current series of Phil’s Continental Cuisine. Alaska had been amazing and seemed like years ago. Filming bears, whales and millions of salmon was not only great fun, but also a real privilege. Then we set off to Vietnam for a whistle stop tour of the country. From Hanoi to Da Nang finally sailing and cooking around the Mekong Delta another wonderful and interesting trip.
This trip took me to a place I have never been to before and also didn't really know much about apart from 2 statistics. One is that it is 576,000 square miles big, and the other is that it was bought from the Russian's for $1 an acre many years ago. Yes, it's Alaska. Apparently, Montana, Texas, and North Carolina fit into it easily! That is rather hard to visualise, until you think that the whole of the UK fits into Texas 4 times. Some of the things I have encountered and seen on my trip really are so memorable I will remember for the rest of my life.
Tunisia in North Africa might be a tiny country –only 150 miles end to end- but it’s big on beaches, ancient ruins and of course interesting food.
The heart of St Lucia is very mountainous so we travelled by boat to get to some of our more remote filming locations which was a fantastic way to get around.
The Atlanta food scene has really changed so much over the past few years. I first started coming here some 6 years ago, eating in various places from bar b q to fine dining. It was okay but not stunning. One restaurant stood out, Rolling Bones bar b q restaurant. Sadly it has now closed which is a real shame because the food was pretty damn good. Décor was not really bothered with, the main focus being on the food. Long, slow smoked cooking was the order of the day anything from baby back ribs to brisket. All smoked over seasoned logs and up to 15 hours with not a gas flame in sight. This was real bar b q, and tons of it. I have had a pretty serious passion for real bar b q ever since I went to North Carolina years ago.
A couple of years ago I took my wife and 2 girls on a safari to Kenya. The lads stayed at home as it was the first time they really thought that going on holiday with your parents was really uncool. Now, some time later and on reflection, they wished they had gone. This was brought to light even more, especially as I was going to go back to Africa to film my latest and final two films for Phil’s Worldwide Cookout series.
We had been to Peru and also Norway, so this fitted perfectly into cooking in fairy extreme places. My memories of Kenya were very nice ones, fantastic scenery, animals and of course food. We even flew into Jo’burg as we were to do on the first part of our 10-day trip.
I met the crew, Janice (boss) Ritchie (sound) and Matt (camera) at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, car picked me up on time and it was a nice pleasant day. Flight was an overnight one at 8.30pm, and was a nice change from flying to Peru with it's time difference.
Some years ago I was very lucky to get involved with an initiative to get British products and companies into Norway. This consisted in staying at the Ambassador residence hosting a trade delegation and also demonstrating at the Oslo culinary school.
My trip this time was to the most far away place I have ever been. I was approached by a young man by the name Andy Giddon who is the owner of a company called Red Lion Foods. They sell many products into the multiples, including tea, sausages, bacon etc with all profits going to military charities. He asked me if I would like to go to the Falklands to have a look at some of the wonderful foods available. These included lamb, and many species of fish, mostly ones that I have never heard of, such as King Clip, Tooth fish, Moonfish. Plus squid. It also coincided nicely with the 30th anniversary of the ending of the conflict.
This trip is a special one, we are off to Vietnam to make a couple of films all on the back of the current rise of this wonderful food here in the UK. We are flying to Ha Noi in the north, then down to Hoi An then onto the Mekong Delta in the south. There is the usual scrum at the airport, miserable people, up too early, not reading the airport blurb on bag weights and size, all kicking off. Things weren't helped by the fact French airport workers are on strike either. We eventually get through and wait patiently for our flight, after the obligatory Costa coffee, or in JD's case a beer, well you can't keep an Aussie down can you.
The Keys are a vast archipelago of islands, big and small, stretching in an arc up to the mainland and linked by bridges.