It may be mushy but its not just mash and veg – its Michelin-starred baby food and it’s made in Birmingham.
Vermicelli pudding scented with cinnamon and cardamom and summer berry shirkland are sumptuous dishes which wouldn’t be out of place on a gourmet restaurant menu.
But the mouth-watering delights were created for the more novice taste buds by two of the city’s top chefs.
Luke Tipping, Michelin-starred executive chef at Simpsons, and Laslan’s British Curry Award-winner Aktar Islam went head-to-head in a kids cook-off and faced their toughest food critics yet – babies, toddlers and children.
It was all part of Taste of Birmingham which starts today and runs until Sunday.
One-year-old George Wheldon and 21-month old Evie Pollock were first to take the taste-test at Simpsons restaurant in Harborne.
The pair were a little reluctant as they tucked into Luke’s fish pie.
George’s mum Sarah Thomas, of Coventry, said: “He pulled a bit of a face when he tried it but then he seemed to like it. He does like fish. I thought it was quite nice.”
Evie remained expressionless and was more interested in playing with her food than eating it.
Mum Gemma Trerise, also of Coventry, said: “I’m not sure that Evie liked it. You can definitely taste the fish but it’s very creamy and smooth.”
The next dish on the menu was created by Aktar – warm vermicelli pudding scented with cinnamon and green cardamom, sprinkled with crushed pistachio and rusk croutons – but it didn’t go down well with the babies. Evie pushed away the first spoonful and only gave in to the croutons and George was reduced to tears. “I think that’s a definite ‘no’,” agreed the mums.
The chefs also made dishes for toddlers and schoolchildren. Luke’s preschool meal was sweet potato chicken and apple bake and the school children tried toasted cracked wheat salad.
Aktar created summer berry shirkhand – a type of yoghurt pudding with berry compote – for the toddlers and spice tomato and cumin-scented rice service with chargrilled summer vegetables for schoolchildren.
Luke won the babies’ vote but lost out in the other two categories. He said: “I got asked to take on the challenge and it’s within my area as I have two children under nine. I cooked dishes that I’ve eaten with them.
“For me the essence of food is about using quality fresh ingredients and doing things simpler so it is still baby food but it’s better than the processed stuff that’s out there.
“I eat Aktar’s food a lot and my children love it – maybe I should add a few spices in my food.”
Aktar, whose berry shirkhand – a Gujarati style yoghurt – was popular with the toddlers, said: “The emphasis behind this is producing a menu that can be cooked easily at home so it is just as easy as reheating processed food which you buy.”