Dear Rick Stein.
Today it rained all day. I know this wasn’t your fault and we were kind of grateful it rained today (Sunday) rather than the day before (Saturday) when our friends beautiful outdoor cliff top wedding ceremony was massive success. This was undoubtedly due to the lack of precipitation. If you were wondering by the way, the catering was amazing, as their staff served us up a yummy organic, locally sourced wedding breakfast in their garden, in a large marquee in the grounds of their family home in Boscastle just looked beautiful basking in the late afternoon sunshine that day.
The next day the rain came in faster than a wedding reception hangover.
I kept thinking there would be a break in the weather …. but no it just kept on pouring.
After a rubbish day of dragging a soggy doggy and slightly hungover husband around Padstow, we retreated to one of Padstows many pubs. The food was as expected filling, tasty and well priced. Now the pub may not have won any awards for its culinary skills and the furnishings did bring out my worst in my interior design OCD (plaid chairs do not look good next to stripy curtains) but it was good honest British pub food served with a smile. I didn’t order anything to eat but did that terrible act where a wife orders nothing and then proceeds to side scrounge off her husbands plate. Well, at least he was my husband this time – You tend to get odd looks when it’s not your husband after all.
After a bit more walking in the rain I built up an appetite and decided I would finally pay the Rick Stein take-away shop a visit. There’s always a massive queue outside, so figured it must be good. Excited I bounced up to the door naïvely thinking that there wasn’t a queue because it was raining. How wrong was I? There was no queue because it was closed and would be reopening again at 5pm. My world was turned into turmoil. Should we stay and wait for the shop to open or get on our way?
We checked the ETA for home on google maps live travel, and it estimated 3 hours. We didn’t know that by waiting for the shop to reopen that the time would later change to 5 hours as an accident would occur on the motorway around Exeter. Unbeknown to future circumstances I decided to wait it out.
I sat waiting for half an hour for the Rick Stein take-away to open with a sleepy dog on the back seat and a sleepy husband in the front seat. This may not seem like a hardship but when you’re sat in a moist set of trainers feeling the onset of “trench foot” kicking in, you wonder if these chips will be worth it? My hair was damp and wavy from the elements and smelt of Swedish fire log and glamping from the night before. I just wanted to get on with the 3 hour journey home and clamber into a warm clean bubble bath and a toasty warm dressing gown chaser.
I told myself these chips were going to be epic and to sit my possible undiagnosed ADHD ass back down and sit patiently for the shop to open. I couldn’t even go for a wander because the rain was still coming down in force. So I had to sit quietly for a while.
Just before 5pm the doors opened and I was warmly welcomed by a pretty young girl who was very helpful and welcoming. Order placed… Takea-away collected, I was now well on my way to experiencing my first Rick Stein car park supper overlooking the harbour. I opened the take-away box as if it were a box of jewels. All excited I delved in.
I quickly realised I had succumbed to the hype and felt let down. As an avid coastal visitor, I’ve frequented a lot of fish and chip shops in my time and this was far the worst.
As I tasted the chips I quickly realised that they were below average chips. They weren’t even ok. Had I missed something? I asked for reassurance and the husband even backed up my findings. The dog in her nosy investigative food manner pushed her way to the front of the camper to check out the tip bit options. Abbie loves chips. In fact she loves food, any kind of food; well apart from her very expensive, very health dog food. Forgotten three day old Haribo Tangtastics trodden into the floor and covered in fluff at work, left over stale dog biscuits found rolling around her dog bed, old discarded kebab found in the gutter. You really don’t get to be a solid sized dog by being picky but today she wasn’t feeling a Rick Stein chip.
So that’s three of us that you’ve failed to impress. Was this my karma for ordering a battered sausage with my chips from the man famous for fish. I only ordered the sausage and chips because I wasn’t really hungry, but just wanted to try your fine dining in the take-away format. The sausage was ok, but I found it weird that it was herbed and served with lemon? Was I meant to wash my hands with the lemon afterwards?
I covered the chips in ketchup. If it makes it any better it was Heinz? I ate most of the sausage and chips but I brought the rest home to feed to the foxes. I would have feed the seagulls but that’s not allowed in Padstow and I don’t like to waste food.
Now, I’m the worst cook ever; Swindon fire service can vouch for that fact, but I believe even I could make better chips. I believe the potato it self wasn’t the problem but in fact the cooking oil? I mean it says a lot when the pub chips down the road from you tasted better; which is just an insult to your reputation and the Rick Stein brand.
Now that’s twice you’ve fail to impress me hence the blog post. You won’t remember a young budding broadcast journalist interviewing you at a book signing many years ago. I was so excited to meet and interview you. Slightly nervous; I had been looking forward to meeting you all week – this amazing TV personality/celebrity chef interview was 100% going on my next radio demo. I even asked for you to sign a copy of your latest recipe book which you were selling in Waterstones; Hence the interview. I could see at the time you weren’t enamoured by me, and I felt as if I was an inconvenience to your book signing. Some how in the great rush to get me out the way you managed to lose the book you’d just signed for my brother in laws birthday in a pile of around 100 books. Determined no one was going to open a recipe book addressed to Nicholas, I sifted alone through around 100 books. I found it had been signed twice. Obviously I failed to mention when quizzed by my brother in law over why it contained two autographs, that you’d been quite rude/abrupt with me, and then carelessly lost the book whilst signing other books for your later sales. We just glossed over that part. All he needed to know was that I was interviewing decent celebrities. The fact that the week before a movie star who I interviewed two days running had welcomed me back like family and had invited my colleague and I back for breakfast, was just a stark reminder of how different celebrities can be.
I think you had failed to see I was just doing my job interviewing you and promoting your new book at the time, but also that I was in fact a customer/ fan buying from you.
I hope this time you read this open letter and readdress your chips and battered sausage. You can’t go back in time and make a very nervous young journalist feel better about an interview, but you could see to it that the chips improve for my next visit.
Diana Von Kirk
PS: Incidentally, if you were wondering who that said celebrity was – it was P.H. Moriarty AKA Hatchet Harry off “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”