Move over Nigellissima – meet the Pampered Chef.
It’s like a Tupperware party of old but with all the trimmings – the pinnies, preparation, even the party food. Or an Ann Summers party minus the X-rated merchandise.
And on Friday night two of the Fylde’s highest profile community leaders go head to head in the ultimate cook-off.
Forget the Pampered Chef. Meet the Pampered Chiefs.
Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn pits his culinary prowess against chief superintendent Richard Debicki, head of western police division, a cop out to claim the cooking crown.
Both are putting cooking skills to the ultimate test – an invited audience of specialist homelessness charity Streetlife Trust campaigners, clients, workers and supporters.
Tickets, costing £2, are still available for anyone who wants to attend the ticket-only event at the Buchanan Street drop in centre at 6.45pm.
And given that the Bridge project, run by the Salvation Army for homeless adults, had homemade carrot and coriander soup on the menu earlier this week, they have a tough act to follow...
Rather than opt for a Hell’s (real life) Kitchen approach to the cook-off, the challenge will feature the favourite street fare of rich and poor alike. The pizza.
For the record, the Fylde’s frontline filling food fish and chips is deemed messier to prepare. But if there’s one man who can stand the heat it’s Ch Supt Debicki who admits it’s a little light relief from his usual caseload – and for a good cause too.
He explains: “It seemed to be a bit of fun but more importantly there is also a good cause involved here and that was my motivation for agreeing to it.
“Homelessness affects too many people and can lead to a whole host of vulnerabilities for them.
“I’m really out to give the work of Streetlife some focus and raise awareness about the work that they do and the plight that homeless people find themselves in.
“Streetlife do some good work in providing support to vulnerable people in their hour of need, helping them to find sustainable and safe housing, or providing them support to go home, where they have left their original family home.
“Am I good at cooking? No. But that doesn’t matter. If this helps raise some money as well as awareness of these issues then I am up for it.”
Whether the chief super is playing down his skill in the kitchen to lure the council leader into a false sense of complacency remains to be seen – but Coun Blackburn admits he thoroughly enjoys cooking but doesn’t get much of a chance to do so.
Coun Blackburn adds: “One of the many limitations placed upon me as leader is that I don’t have a great deal of time to cook!
“It was however somewhat of a passion, and I have a number of signature dishes – King Prawn Piri-Piri (the secret being early use of soy sauce and finely sliced habenero chillies to create a sticky sauce). Pan-fried steak (garlic, Worcester sauce and butter in significant measures) and Chilli (cooked for 3-4 hours, using a good quality beef stock, with red wine vinegar and dark chocolate to provide an intense richness). I gather, however, that this event is based around pizza – which is something I would normally have delivered!”
Pampered Chef consultant Sarah Tarbuck of Anchorsholme explains: “I’m really looking forward to the evening. Essentially we sell cookware and dining ware through party hosting and direct sales but we are doing more fund raising events for charity.
“The cookery demonstrations are interactive and great fun and the cook off will feature the two participants assisted by Jane Hugo of Streetlife and her deputy. We’re not out to serve up a helping of humiliation to the chefs, it’s not Hell’s Kitchen. I’m no Gordon Ramsay or Marco Pierre White.
“It’s all about having fun. Especially for charity. We’re already in partnership with Breast Cancer Research and have another charity event at the Ashley Conservative Club, Cleveleys, coming up.
“Nowadays people really consider what they spend their money on and a lot of charities are suffering in that sense. My church – All Saints – supports Streetlife so I know all about the good work done and it makes my work even more rewarding.”
The nature of the challenge is under wraps to avoid tipping participants off but it involves pizza – party hosts run to pudding bake offs too.
Jane Hugo, chief executive of Streetlife, concludes: “We’re looking forward to it. We don’t have a huge kitchen at Streetlife, it’s a fantastic day centre essentially. We provide emergency accommodation and support to 16 to 25-year-old vulnerable and homeless young people. But where else would you get to see Coun Simon Blackburn and Chief Superintendent Richard Debicki go head to head in a cook off? They’re both winners in my cook book!”