- Macknade Fine Foods

Andy Mack

When he’s not in the kitchen, Andy’s out and about playing gigs to sell-out crowds.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Andy Mack and I’m a professional musician of many years.  I am ‘Tall Simon’ in a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act which tours nationally and once a year we come to Macknade to play what has become one of our favourite venues, where there is always a fantastic sold out audience.

What food do you especially like to eat/cook?

As much of a cliché as it may sound, I like cooking and eating every kind of food. I love finding new flavours or combinations which I haven’t tried before – often the more disgusting sounding the better! One thing I’d really like to try is that Scandinavian rotted fish dish, where you have to open the can under water because the smell is so bad. I’d also like to try something a friend told me he had in Paris once – a baguette filled with duck hearts. Yum!

What cuisines inspire you/do you enjoy most?

Although I love all kinds of food what I always end up coming back to is the classic French style. It helps that we have a similar climate to France so ingredients are readily available when seasonal and fresh and appropriate herbs can be grown in the garden etc… There’s a wonderful versatility and subtlety in French food, which isn’t always found in others. The range from delicate to full and rich flavours means there’s always something to play with. Add a good French wine into the mix and the combinations are endless.

How long have you been shopping with us?

Probably ten years or more now on a regular basis. In fact, I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t coming here – I even remember coming with my parents as a child back in the early days. It’s been interesting watching how the shop has developed and expanded and it is just getting better and better.

What's your best memory of Macknade?

One time I was chatting to Stef and I asked for his expert knowledge on what kind of tomato would go best with a dish I was going to be preparing that evening. It would have been quite easy for him to point one out and leave it at that, but instead we went through every tomato available (quite a range as well!), trying them and discussing their various qualities. It was a wonderful example of customer service that wasn’t just a case of ‘this is the right thing to do to keep the customer happy’ but more a genuine passion for the produce and a display of how important it is for the customer to get exactly the right product.

How would you describe Macknade to someone who hasn't been before?

I often do, and I struggle. My problem is that I get too excited about it and start listing all the amazing products that are available! If I was trying to be succinct I would have to say that Macknade is somewhere to go and be inspired to create, cook and eat. For foodies, it’s like being a kid in a candy shop.

What do you regularly buy?

Olive oil, salami and loose tea. These are the essentials as far as I’m concerned and if any of an inferior quality appear in my house I’ll sulk, much to the dismay of my wife. The way I look at it, you’re going to drink loads of tea, use loads of olive oil and eat loads of salami over the course of a lifetime. To accept an inferior product is wasting your life. I went on a long kayak trip recently with some friends and I said I would bring a thermos for tea. When we stopped and I produced some loose Russian Caravan with china cups and a tea strainer you can imagine how much they laughed at me. When I explained my reasoning and they tried the tea, although they were still laughing, they couldn’t argue with me and agreed.

What from Macknade would you take to a desert island?

White truffle honey and a big lump of Colston Bassett. That was an easy one.

What three products from Macknade would you recommend to a friend?

I would probably suggest something simple and every day, so they could see the difference in quality from what they normally buy. Then they can find out about other things in the shop themselves. So I would say a cauliflower, Milano salami and pasta.

Is there a recipe or food tip you can share with us?

  • White Truffle and Wild Mushroom Pappardelle with Black Truffle Carpaccio 
  • Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Thyme Infused Croutons
  • Colston Bassett with White Truffle Honey (served as it is, with a decent crusted ruby port)

I like to cook the soup for people because it’s quick and easy but it contains a lot of flavours that some people have never tried before and I really enjoy seeing their reaction. With the other two… I’m a bit of a truffle fiend and I love the way these courses are rich and earthy yet light and delicate at the same time (click here for Andy’s soup recipe).

Which local producers/products would you recommend?

Time & Tide Brewery. I nearly always have one of their fabulous ales on the go when I’m cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I also really love the Kentish Oils selection of rapeseed oils in various flavours. I recently picked up a recipe that their in-house chef had created for a lemon polenta cake made with their lemon infused oil, which was sublime. Their rosemary and garlic oil over roast potatoes is also fantastic.

Which local restaurants/pubs would you recommend?

The Corner House in Minster (Thanet). The staff and setting are lovely but most importantly the food is excellent. I had a lavender creme brûlée at The Corner House over a year ago and I still think about it now.

What would you tell someone visiting us to do locally while they are in the area?

Go to Whitstable and get stuck into some good Kentish ale and oysters.

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