Exotic fungi business Marlborough Mushrooms took a starring role in an episode of BBC2 series The Great British Food Revival on Tuesday.
During the series ten of the BBC’s best known chefs and cooks go on a mission to popularise traditional British food.
And it took an Italian – Antonio Carluccio – to show us how to cook and eat mushrooms, and urge British cooks to move away from the traditional white mushroom.
“You’ve all become lazy,” he told viewers. “You buy just one kind of mushroom. Between sixty and seventy varieties grow in the British countryside. British shoppers spent £360 million a year on mushrooms, and two thirds are the white variety.
“Come on Britain, be courageous! Mushrooms are not just something to have with your fry-up.”
The restaurateur and chef, who was awarded an OBE in 2007, visited Marlborough Mushrooms, which specialises in the growing of shiitake and oyster mushrooms.
When proprietor Dewi Williams showed the chef the incubation rooms, where mushrooms are growing on rotting logs and harvested by hand, Antonio exclaimed: “My goodness gracious me! Look at this. It’s fantastic; spectacular.”
Dewi – a regular at Marlborough Communities Market – spent five minutes of screen time talking to Antonio about shiitakes, which he admitted suffered from their name, because people assumed they could only be used in Asian cooking.
Antonio agreed that the mushrooms were versatile, and popping an uncooked mushroom into his mouth he said “these are small and they taste wonderful.”
“We have to overcome our fear of the unfamiliar and keep British growers like these in business,” he urged viewers.
The chef then headed back to the kitchen, where he used exotic mushrooms to create a Trio of Mushrooms Antipasto.
This week Dewi’s wife and business partner Kathryn told Marlborough News Online: “We were so chuffed that Antonio was impressed with our golden oysters.
“Antonio is an absolute guru on our favourite subject and a really lovely man. He and his film crew spent two and a half hours with us, talking to Dewi about mushrooms.
“We then sent two kilogrammes of mushrooms up to London to be used in the cooking element of the show.”
The episode can be viewed on the BBC’s iPlayer here.