Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott had the lunchtime crowd at Wollongong’s Friday Forage markets eating out of the palm of his hands.
Not literally of course, though many took the opportunity to steal a kiss and a hug off the affable Englishman, well-known for shows like Ainsley’s Big Food Adventure and the BBC version of Ready, Steady, Cook.
In Wollongong mall to shoot scenes for his upcoming series Ainsley’s Market Menu, Harriott spent the morning chatting with vendors and selecting produce which he then cooked up and shared with the crowd.
Honey from Warilla beekeeper Louie Kelbert and sourdough from David Laidler at the Artisan Bread Basket stall were among the ingredients to make the cut for his ‘Chargrilled sourdough with sauteed mushrooms and melted caprino romano cheese’.
Harriott said he was impressed with the quality and variety on offer at the markets, as well as the passion for produce.
“I think things are changing – people are finding a bit more time for cooking and they’re finding the time to source their own ingredients,” he said.
“There’s nothing wrong with supermarkets, but people know if they’ve got the time to go a market then they’ll be able to talk to someone about what they’re buying, about what they’re eating.
“This market is a great example of that – and markets like these are springing up everywhere.”
Mr Kelbert, of Kel-Bee Apiaries at Warilla, said it was a pleasure to meet the TV chef. “He was really interested in the work I do – I’ve been beekeeping since I was nine years old and have a real passion for it.”
Mr Laidler also welcomed Harriott’s visit: “He’s a real character and a real people’s person – he made the time to chat and talk to people.
“That’s what these markets are all about – talking to people who share your passion for great produce.”
Wollongong is the first of six stops around Australia for the series, to air on SBS later this year.