Antony Worrall Thompson Teaches at Ballymaloe

We’ve just had a highly entertaining and inspirational few days here at the cookery school with the flamboyant, irreverent and completely irrepressible TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson.
It was Antony’s fourth visit to the school. Over a series of four cookery
demonstrations he cooked American, Moroccan, Asian and Mediterranean dishes, some were favourites from his restaurant menus, others came from his cookery series. Antony and his lovely wife Jay own two restaurants, the critically acclaimed Notting Grill and the Kew Grill. They also have an interest in the Angel Gastro Pub in Heytesbury in Wiltshire..
He appears regularly on television and is currently presenting Saturday Kitchen on BBC2. In Spring of 2003, much to Jay’s horror, he volunteered to participate in “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, on ITV. He captivated the viewing nation when he led a revolt. He came fourth and was responsible for raising € 84,000 for Save the Children. He lives in Henley-on-Thames with Jay and his two children Toby and Billie.

Over the years Antony has become more and more outspoken about food issues, and practises what he preaches by rearing his own Middlewhite pigs and growing a wide variety of organic herbs and vegetables for his restaurant. The Aberdeen Angus beef served in his restaurants and for which he has now become famous, is dry aged and hung for 28 days. 

Highly opinionated, he is regularly called on for a comment on gastronomic issues and has locked horns on many occasions with the establishment. There have been well-publicized spats with such luminaries of the culinary world as Gordon Ramsay and Giorgio Locatelli. A few years ago he showed his disdain for the Michelin by flambeeing the guide on television and as a consequence got more publicity than all the starred restaurants put together.

Readers of Antony’s autobiography RAW will be aware that his passage to culinary stardom has not exactly been smooth. Abandoned by his father, a Shakespearean actor, when he was just three, Antony was sexually abused and maltreated throughout his childhood. His extra-curricular activities at boarding school included pushing cars into the swimming pool and generally getting on the teacher’s nerves. Antony’s story very nearly came to an abrupt halt at sixteen when his face was crushed in a horrific rugby accident, which left him badly disfigured and chronically insecure. But pioneering surgery saved the day, enabling him to pursue what was to become the enduring love of his life – cooking.
After much hard graft and some close encounters of the violent gangster kind, AWT’s flamboyant style as a restaurateur soon brought him to the attention of cookery’s cognoscenti. Things didn’t always run according to plan, however – he once had to serve tinned tomato soup, tarted up with croutons and basil, to the customers in his restaurant because there wasn’t time to make his own from scratch. (They loved it.). And today Antony is to the culinary establishment what a bull is to a china shop. His no-nonsense style in the kitchen is loathed by a few, but loved by millions.

His autobiography RAW was published in 2003 but he has also written numerous cookbooks including the ABC of AWT, Supernosh, How to Buy and Cook Real Meat, Modern Bistrot Cooking, The Small and Beautiful Cookbook, Sainsbury’s Quick and Easy fish, Top 100 Recipes from the Food and Drink Series.
His most recent book ‘Healthy Eating for Diabetes’ was written when was diagnosed as being precursor to being diabetic when he was tested for Syndrome X, he volunteered for testing on the programme Food Junkies. You may also like to look out for his weekly column in the Express.
Here are some of the delicious recipes we enjoyed while he was with us.


Serves 2-4

4 carrots, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
half teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 egg, beaten
150 ml (quarter pint) milk
140g (5oz) plain flour
sunflower oil for cooking
Greek yoghurt
Coriander leaf

1. Combine the grated carrots with all the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Mix well to combine everything together.

2. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, when hot carefully drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel.

3. Serve with a small dollop of Greek yoghurt on each fritter and top with a coriander leaf.


1 lb (450g) pumpkin, roasted, peeled and mashed

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed with a little salt
4 tsp harissa
1½ tsp ground caraway seeds
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

1. Mix together the vinegars, oil, garlic, harissa and caraway in a bowl. Add the pumpkin and combine. Check the seasoning. Garnish with the coriander and quartered eggs.


Serves 2-4
115g (4oz) unsalted butter
550g (1¼ lb) shallots, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes, drained, peeled and trimmed
12 garlic cloves peeled
300ml (½ pint) fresh vegetable stock 
200g (7oz) sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed (from a 425g/15oz packet)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh leaf salad, to serve

1 Heat a large frying or sauté pan. Melt 40g/1½oz of the butter in the pan, toss in the shallots and gently fry for about 10 minutes until golden, tossing occasionally. After 5 minutes add the garlic cloves. Pour in the stock and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife but still holding their shape. Remove the shallots & garlic with a slotted spoon, drain well and pat dry with kitchen paper - you could use the remaining stock later for sauces or soup. Leave to shallots & garlic to cool completely.

2 Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5; fan oven 170C from cold. Unroll the pastry and cut out a 25 cm/10 in circle, using a large plate as a template, don’t worry if some of the edges the pastry sheet fall a bit short. Transfer to a baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the pastry to rest.

3 Melt the knob of butter in a 23 cm/9 in ovenproof frying pan; preferably non-stick. Sprinkle over the sugar and cook for a minute or two until caramelised, Sprinkle over the vinegar, add the shallots, toss again until well coated and remove from the heat. Place the garlic in between the shallots.

4 Season generously. Top with the pastry, tucking the edges down the side of the pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown. Leave for a few minutes before loosening the sides with a knife and inverting on to a flat plate. Serve warm or cold, cut into slices and serve with a rocket salad.


Serves 4-6
1 shoulder of Lamb
1 and a half tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground turmeric
1½ tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed 
2 tablespoons olive oil
450g (1lb) grated onion
175g (6oz) dried apricots, soaked in a little water 
85g (3oz) flaked almonds
55g (2oz) sultanas /raisins
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1 teaspoon saffron stamens, soaked in cold water
600ml (1 pint) tomato juice
600ml (1 pint) lamb stock 
1 x 400g (14 oz) tin tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 pickled lemon, rind chopped 
1 tablespoon olive oil
25g (1oz) coriander leaves, chopped

1. Cut the lamb into 1½ inch cubes and toss in half the ground spices and leave overnight. 
2.Brown the lamb in half the oil in a heavy casserole over a high heat. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining spices, crushed garlic and grated onion to the pan. Allow the onion to soften without browning.

3.Add the apricots and their soaking water, the almonds, raisins/sultanas, honey, saffron, tomato juice, tomatoes and lamb stock. Bring to the boil, place in a low oven and cook for approximately 1½ hours at 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3, until the meat is tender. Remove meat and reduce the sauce over a high heat until thickened (if necessary).

4.Fry the lemon rind in the remaining olive oil for a few minutes.

5.Pour the sauce over the lamb and scatter with the lemon and coriander. Serve with jewelled couscous. 


Serves 4
400ml (14fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
225g (8oz) couscous
finely grated rind of 1 lemon and the juice of 1/2 lemon (unwaxed)
55g (2oz) toasted flaked almonds
85g (3oz) apricots, soaked in a little water for 20 minutes, drained and chopped
55g (2oz) sultanas or raisins
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons coriander, roughly chopped
salt and ground black pepper

1.Heat the stock in a large pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour the couscous in a thin, steady stream and then stir in the lemon rind. Set aside for 2 minutes to allow the grains to swell – it should soak up all of the liquid.

2.Return the couscous to the heat and drizzle over the remaining olive oil. Cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring with a long pronged fork to fluff up the grains, then remove from the heat.

3.Fold in almonds, apricots, sultanas/raisins, parsley and coriander, season to taste.


For the base:
150g (5oz) chocolate digestive biscuits, crushed 
80g (3oz) butter, melted but cooling

For the filling:
1 tbsp gelatine
100ml (3½fl oz) boiling water
1½ lbs (700g) cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
225g (8oz) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
225ml/8 fl oz sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g (5½oz) Hob Nob biscuits, broken into small chunks
125g (4½oz) white chocolate, broken into small pieces
150g (5½oz) dark chocolate, broken into small piece 
Fresh berries, for garnish, optional

1. Mix the crushed digestive biscuits with the butter and press onto the bottom of an 8” springform tin. Transfer to refrigerator for a half hour to until set.

2. Mix the gelatine with the water, stir well and let cool.

3. To make the filling: Put the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle or beaters, or in a large mixing bowl. Using the stand mixer or a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the ingredients until smooth, stopping often to scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the blades with a rubber spatula. Turn the speed to high and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy. Stop the mixer and add the sour cream, gelatine, and vanilla; beat 3 minutes longer, again stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the blades.

4. Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. .

5. Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and continue to beat until well combined and smooth. 

6. Using the same process as point 4, repeat the process with the dark chocolate and then drizzle throughout the mixture making a ripple effect.

7. Pour half the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan. Sprinkle half the chunky chocolate biscuits over the mixture. Pour in the remaining cream cheese mixture, smooth its top with a rubber spatula, and then scatter the remaining chocolate biscuits evenly over its surface.

8. Place the cake into the fridge and leave to set for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

9. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. Dip a long, sharp knife in warm water and run the knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cake. Remove the outer ring. Continue to dip the knife into warm water as necessary as you cut neat wedges. To serve, place a wedge of cake on a cake plate arid garnish, if you like, with fresh berries.

Foolproof Food

Buttered Courgettes

Try this delicious simple recipe if you have a glut of courgettes in the garden.
Serves 4

1 lb (450g) courgettes, no larger than 5 inches (12.5cm) in length
1 oz (30g) butter
A dash of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly chopped parsley, dill, basil or marjoram

Top and tail the courgettes and cut them into ¼ inch (5mm) slices. Melt the butter and add a dash of oil, toss in the courgettes and coat in the butter and oil. Cook until tender, 4-5 minutes approx. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Turn into a hot serving dish, sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve immediately.

Hot Tips

Raw: The Autobiography – my autobiography by Antony Worrall Thompson, published by Bantam Press – a jolly good read. (Click to go to

A Date for your Diary – Midleton Food and Drink Festival 4-5th September 2004.

O.C.C – Otto’s Creative Catering. Otto and Hilde Kunze run their restaurant with rooms at Dunworley, Butlerstown, Bandon, Co Cork. – open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday and Sunday lunch – delicious home-grown and local organic produce in a wonderful setting - Tel 023-40461,  

Fingal Food Fayre – Fingal Arts Centre’s new monthly Fingal Food Fayre is in Rush, Co Dublin, and is held on the last Sunday of every month. It started in May and has been a resounding success so far. As well as a wide range of organic, fresh and international foods, there is a range of family entertainment each month including food demonstrations by local chefs. Contact Vera Tyrrell 01-8437567  

For more information on Markets in the Dublin area and throughout Ireland, check out 

Food Waste Recycling Unit – 
Reduce pay by weight refuse charges use a stacking tray wormery – details from Element Green Solutions, Acorn Business Campus, Mahon Industrial Park, Blackrock, Cork. Tel 021-453 6153

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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