Saturday Night Cook Alongs

‘I’m on a mission to encourage people to shop locally and learn to cook using the freshest produce,’ says Rosemary Shrager, TV chef and creator of Saturday Night Cook Alongs.

‘We all found last year hard but when the November lockdown was announced I thought, well, I’ve got to do something to help. We can’t go out but at least we can make the most of staying in. I decided it was time to launch an idea I’d been nurturing for months – to broadcast live from my kitchen and show how to create a supper dish from scratch. I’d been filming simple demonstrations on social media since last March. I decided it was time to expand this idea and so I launched Cooking at Home with Rosemary and started presenting a Cook Along on my Rosemary Shrager Facebook page at 5pm every Saturday evening.

‘The Cook Alongs were a huge success. I have a large following on social media and Facebook and hundreds of people joined in on a Saturday night to enjoy the party atmosphere I create in the kitchen. As the Cook Alongs progressed I was delighted to hear that families and groups of friends would join in, and ask me questions. they’d cluster around their laptops, follow the Cook Along and then settle down together (via Zoom) for a shared supper and catch up. What could be nicer!

‘Then, of course, Christmas was cancelled and another lockdown announced. I realized that my Cook Alongs would be needed for weeks and months to come. I committed to doing them every Saturday evening throughout 2021. I love shopping at my local farm shop in East Sussex, Eggs and Apples, where all the beautiful seasonal produce influences what I decide to make for the Cook Alongs. There are over 600 farm shops throughout the UK so I got in touch with the Farm Retail Association to see if they’d like to get involved. They thought it that a partnership would be a great idea so we launched our relationship in January 2021. I encourage the Cook Along audience to shop locally and participating farm shops encourage customers to buy produce for the Cook Alongs and go home with the recipe ready to join in with the Saturday night party.

‘So far we’ve signed up about 25 to 30 farm shops across the UK who love being part of this partnership. It’s early days, but we’re hoping that this will grow. This is not for any money, it’s for love! If anybody can help tell their farm shops – they will know already we need them to sign up – this would help. I’m so excited about using great seasonal produce and encouraging everyone who watches me to think about using fruit, veg, meat and fish that is in season. I think it’s so important to make the most of produce when it’s at its best. I really hope that, with the enthusiasm of the Farm Retail Association, we can not only get the nation cooking from scratch on a Saturday evening but make sure everyone gets a taste for the best produce that their local farm shop can offer.’ Twitter: @farm_retail