Hi Im Frank,
As far back as I can remember I’ve been cooking on fire.
From baked potatoes as a kid, cooked in the ashes on bonfire night, to teenage campfires with sausages and wild-caught Fish, to welding my own spit and roasting whole beasts, such as pig, hogget, venison and lamb, over an open fire.
The Food Festival
In late spring every year I help organise and run a small Food Festival with some close friends, where all the guests are expected to either contribute to the cooking or do the very important job of washing up!
During the festival we all camp out in an ancient orchard, surrounded by beautiful fenland, where we smoke fish, make sausages, cure bacon and we spit-roast a whole animal for all involved.
For the festival we get in a few firkins from the local brewery, and amazing cider from the press at the end of the lane.
We buy lots of local produce from the surrounding farms and markets, fishmongers and butchers.
All the kids have an amazing time building dens & tree houses, roasting marshmallows, learning about cooking in the wilderness and generally creating mischief!
Everybody learns something new here, even the washerupers get dragged into a bit of sausage making, bacon smoking or get put in charge of turning the giant spit for 20 minutes.
We cook all sorts here, but pretty much all over fire.
One year I found a half buried clay chimney pot on the land. I cleaned it out and made it into a fantastic cold smoker. Since then, we’ve used it every year to make cold smoked salmon ready for Sunday brunch.
During the summer months I spend a lot of time with my family in the south of France. My wife is half French, so we first visit her family home: a beautiful stone wall Villa in the Hills of the French Basque Country, just outside Saint Jean de Luz on the south west coast.
The food is incredible there with lots of fresh seafood, amazing wild mushrooms that grow everywhere and wild venison and boar that roam the surrounding landscape.
We normally spend about 2 to 3 weeks here in summer, and of course I spend a lot of time cooking. We’ll often go down to the fisheries to pick up some of the days catch, straight off the boat.
Although they bring in everything now, originally Saint Jean was famous for its tuna and sardines.
There’s an amazing place to eat right in the harbour, it’s the old fisherman’s canteen.
It serves either Tuna or Sardines, and comes with a traditional Basque Sauce, a delicious rustic sauce made from tomatoes, onions and peppers,
Every morning I’m here, I wake up and go for a hunt. If I’m lucky, I’m having butter fried wild Cep on toast for breakfast
Château Fort des Saptes
After Saint-Jean-de-Luz we drive across country to meet our friends at Château Fort des Saptes, an old castle just outside Carcassonne, where 150 friends and family will pass through over the summer months.
When arriving at the castle, you’re assigned to one of two groups:
The Army of Darkness, or The Soldiers of the Light.
If you are in the army of darkness, your job is to go around clearing tables, washing up once everyone has eaten, and general tidying after everybody’s gone to bed!
The soldiers of the light, on the other hand, must do all the shopping and prepare all the meals every day for everyone staying at the castle. That’s about 60 people at a time! This is what I do when I’m there.
To date, my two standout cooks at Les Saptes (or at least the ones that people still talk about today), were my authentic Ragù Bolognese with beef, pork & chicken livers, loads of red wine, basil & nutmeg, served with Tagliatelle pasta, mozzarella pearls & fresh cherry plumb tomatoes.
But my most memorable has to be my 4-Pepper Crusted Magret de Canard (duck breast), Chilli Plum Sauce, alongside Duck Fat Roast Potatoes and Sautéed Fine Beans with Pine Nuts.
For 65 people.
Here is where we cook:
Over dried grape vine, on the original castle hearth. It has everything you need. A wood fired bread oven, spit, caldron hooks, smoking chambers and much more!
But we do also have a modern professional, gas, stainless steel range that we may use from time to time.
But I don’t just play with Charcoal in the “kitchen”. Charcoal is in my veins, in fact I could probably make a bet with any pro barbecuer on the planet and say I’ve been through more charcoal than them. And I would most probably win!
For the last 22 years I’ve been a professional Pyrotechnist, designing and firing professional firework displays around the world. And of course, the main ingredient in fireworks is charcoal!
In recent years I’ve designed, fired and set up displays for Beyoncé concerts in Egypt, The Foo Fighters at Wembley Stadium-London, Shake Mohammed’s Endurance race in Dubai and Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday celebration fired from the roof of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, to name a few.
As of writing this, I am still designing and firing the biggest free fireworks display in England on Guy Fawkes Night with over 130,000 people attending.
Why I started a food blog
For many years friends and family who have tasted my food, have told me that I should open a restaurant or write a recipe book. But I’ve always been caught up in other things.
In early March 2020 I contracted the COVID-19 virus and ended up in hospital with pneumonia and a torn lung.
When I was discharged from hospital I was still in a pretty bad way, and spent the following weeks recovering in bed.
Very slowly I was able to get out of bed and move around a bit. It was so frustrating, I just wanted to do something, I had been bedridden for about 5 weeks and I had completed Netflix by this point!
I needed to set myself some challenges. My first goal was to make myself a sandwich, which I managed, I remember it clearly. It might sound silly but it felt like quite an achievement. Only I did end up back in bed straight after.
Over the next couple of weeks I started setting myself more cooking challenges, some I completed and some I failed and ended back asleep before it was finished.
By this time spring was turning into summer and I wanted to spend time outside in the garden, so while I was resting and building up some energy in bed, I started writing recipes and designing cooks for my prized Kamado BBQ.
My cooks were getting more adventurous and complex as time went on and I started sharing some pics on Facebook of what I was doing. The response was huge! Loads of likes, positive comments, questions, and requests for recipes.
So that got me thinking: there must be a better way to share my twenty odd years’ worth of recipes, techniques, and knowledge that I had written and accumulated.
About 10 years ago I started writing down everything that I was creating in a book. That book now contains everything from grilling, hot smoking, cold smoking, curing, brining, spit roasting, sausage making, pickling, baking and so much more! It even has recipes for baby food!
Absolutely everything is in that book, the day my eldest son took his first steps is noted right there next to a Pineapple & Lime Jerk BBQ Sauce recipe I was creating at the time.
With the Covid lockdown and not being able to work, I felt that it was a perfect opportunity to share this book with everybody, so I started this blog.
I live in London England with my incredible wife Natacha and my two amazing boys Logan & Raven.
Natacha’s lockdown project has been continuing with her artwork. Natacha is a professional dancer, she has danced for many great choreographers and danced all over the world. In recent yeas she has danced in many productions for The Royal Opera House.
Throughout her dance career Natacha has had other creative outlets, in the way of painting and drawing, film-making and photography. Now you can check out some of her artworks for yourself.
My eldest son Logan also had a lockdown project. Stop frame animation.
He wanted to entertain his friends with his funny videos while the schools were closed. He asked if we could put them on YouTube so his friends could see them. So we set him up with a channel.
Check out his funny videos, your kids will love them!
And remember… Like & Subscribe for more!!!