Feedback with Calum Franklin
THIS MONTH WE TALK TO CHEF CALUM FRANKLIN
It's no wonder he is called The Pie King, he doesn't just like or make them - he is obsessed with them.
In 2021 Calum teamed up with pork pie purveyors Dickinson & Morris to celebrate 170 years of producing authentic Melton Mowbray pork pies. Together they create amazing, multi-award winning Celebration Centrepiece Pies and this year they have created the Dickinson & Morris Festive Showstopper for 2023. Meaty, succulent, and made with the finest quality ingredients, this is a handcrafted Pork Pie guaranteed to wow. Outdoor-bred pork, chicken and smoked bacon is paired with chestnuts and wrapped in a blanket of cranberry and Port jelly for a unique pop of seasonal flavour. The pastry crust is finished with a handmade festive decoration. You can win a Festive Showstopper in time for Christmas in our competition - just click the link below for more details and to enter.
But what about Calum himself? Here we find out more about the chef behind the pastry; does he actually eat pies, what does he eat after a long day in the kitchen, and guess whose cookery books were the first ones he ever used...?
What food always reminds you of your childhood?
Shepherd’s Pie, takes me right back to the family table. It was something that my mum used to make regularly. We were three brothers and my mum was the cook at home, my dad worked away most of the time and that was one of the dishes she would often make. With peas on the side and brown sauce.
Do you have a current favourite restaurant or type of restaurant?
The restaurant that I probably go to the most is Perilla in Stoke Newington, which is north London. I live in Greenwich which is south east London, and it probably takes me an hour to get there. But I will go as much as possible, it’s a very beautiful little neighbourhood restaurant, where they create hyper-seasonal, vegetable led, beautiful cooking. Ben the chef there spent a long time working at Claridge’s so he has a very classical background of old school French cooking, then he went to work at Noma for a long time, so the mix of the two styles works beautifully. It’s so light, so gentle with beautiful herbs and seasonal vegetables and I love going because you can eat there all the time and come out feeling fully satisfied and as light as a feather. I love it.
Another restaurant is Maison Francois, also in London. Their steak tartare is amazing, the meat is hand cut which makes such a difference than when it’s minced which is how it’s usually prepared in the big brasseries in Paris.
Can you remember making your very first pork pie?
I don’t think I will ever forget that. The technique to making a hand raised pork pie around a pie dolly is actually quite complicated. I could only find one video on You Tube and thought it looked quite simple, but by the time I finished I realised it wasn’t easy at all!
Do you prefer a sweet or savoury pie?
Savoury. In fact I had pie and mash for lunch today! Two beef pies, one mash and liquor. Savoury pies are like comfort blanket to me, I love them. If my body allowed it I would probably eat them every day - it definitely doesn’t allow it nowadays! I have to be a bit more careful. I do like a sweet pie, buy my heart is in savoury.
What food or ingredient could you not do without?
I think for me it’s probably pork. I use it so much and in som any different ways in my style of cooking, whether it’s the fat, or the different cuts of meat. It plays such a central role in pie making and charcuterie work.
At the end of along day in the kitchen, what do you like to eat when you get home?
I am very lucky that my wife (who works in a completely different field to me), tends to wait up for me to get home. She was born in Sri Lanka and at the moment, she’s going through this wonderful period of relearning classic Sri Lankan dishes, so I am a guinea pig for those which is amazing. If she is away with work the reality is probably something trashy like Bird’s Eye potato waffles or KFC.
How did you first learn to cook?
From Delia! Her cookbooks were the only ones we had in our house, my mum had all of them. And that’s the thing about those books, if there is any, British staple recipe that you needed to make, you’d go to those books and so definitely in my formative years I learned to cook from Delia. She was and still is an icon in British cooking.
What was the most memorable meal you can remember eating?
I’m very lucky. With my job I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world, and I’ve had some eye wateringly expensive meals - some of which I regret spending money on. Without doubt the best meal I’ve had was in a little bar in Oporto, Portugal about 15 years ago. I was with a couple of friends and we walked into this tiny, tiny bar and there was a whole roasted suckling pig on the bar with some bread rolls. And the barman told us to just take as much as we wanted and to pay when we’d finished; so we sat there drinking beers and eating warm suckling pig and I can remember every mouthful and the generosity of him saying 'take when you want'. There was nothing fancy about it but it will stick with me for life.
Is there something particular you always keep in the fridge?
Always lard, I use it a lot. Good eggs, good milk. We try not to buy a lot of ingredients nowadays and just buy the best of what we can afford, and eat simpler meals at home
What would be your last supper if literally anything was available to you and where would you eat it?
My mum’s roast dinner! It’s very special and I grew up with it and also it’s just family time. To drink I’d have fermented sparkling tea. I’m into them at the moment, they’ve exploded across the market and they’re great because it give me more options when I eat out as an alternative to alcohol.
The Dickinson & Morris Festive Showstopper is available now for pre-order at porkpie.co.uk and fortnumandmason.com. It will be sold in-store from 19th December in selected Waitrose deli counters, Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe and from Mrs King’s at Borough Market. RRP £40 1120g.