St Ann’s Allotments – the MasterChef champion’s secret ingredient

Did you know that Nottingham chef, Laurence Henry, winner of BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals, also has an allotment right here in St Ann’s?

We caught up with Laurence to find out how St Ann’s Allotments inspires his cooking and why he loves growing his own ingredients…

How does using allotment-grown produce inspire you as a chef? And do you think it helped to inspire your MasterChef win?
“Growing my own fresh fruit and veg in my allotment has given me a whole new perspective on cooking and makes me appreciate all the produce I use just that little bit more. It has also driven me to learn more about fermentation and preservation to enhance some products, as well as ensuring I have plenty to play with during the winter months. This outlook in turn changes and improves my food, which may have been a factor in my MasterChef win.”  

What do you think is special about St Ann’s Allotments? What drew you to have an allotment here?
“I love St Ann’s Allotments, it’s like having my own little secret garden. They are nice and private, although the community there is full of lovely people. I find it a great space to escape from the world and enjoy some time to myself.”

Do you have a favourite allotment-related ingredient – or dish you’ve created?
“We’re very fortunate to have a couple of bountiful old apple trees on the allotment. This year I juiced the apples and then clarified the apple juice to create an apple consommé which I’ve used in both sweet and savoury dishes.”

You have some plans in the pipeline for inspiring others to grow their own and cook using homegrown produce – why is it important to you to inspire others in this way – and can you give us a hint of what you’ve got planned?  
“Over the past year and a half having the allotment has helped both me and Sam (my best friend whom I share the allotment with) in many ways. It has been a lifesaver and a fantastic bonding opportunity for us both. Later this year, I’ll be creating content for my social media, website and YouTube channel in the allotment. Creating dishes from the produce we’ve grown, as well as hints and tips on growing your own to try and inspire other people to give it a go.”

Can you tell us a bit more about your allotment? What are you planning to grow/harvest in 2019 and what’s great about having an allotment with a friend?
“We have taken an overgrown patch of land and turned it into a fantastic growing space full of raised beds made from old pallets. We plan to build a poly tunnel, greenhouse and wood-fired oven over the coming months and grow everything from tomatoes and strawberries to sweetcorn and cabbages. Last year we got a great harvest with very little room to plant. However, we have a lot more room now and I’m confident this year will be even more successful. Check out @allotmentbrothers on Instagram to see our progress.”

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Laurence and congratulations on your MasterChef win! If you’d like to follow Laurence and Sam’s allotment journey, you’ll find them on Instagram @allotmentbrothers