From Northern Thailand to the Middle East: A Cook’s Tour Season Recap

While the joys of springtime are in the air, it’s bittersweet for some of us at Rocket as the winter season of A Cook’s Tour comes to a close with the last cook-along at the end of March. What started as a lockdown project has turned into something so much greater, and this season saw us refine the format to try to make A Cook’s Tour even more exciting and special as the world opens up and the event landscape returns to its normal rhythm. We sat down with Rocket Director and host of A Cook’s Tour, Charlie Grant Peterkin, to hear his reflection on the season, the most memorable moments from the cook-alongs, and of course, his favourite dishes.

How was this winter season different from previous seasons of A Cook’s Tour?

We had the summer to reflect, to ask ourselves and our customers a few questions, and to think about how we could take A Cook’s Tour from a lockdown pivot project to a brand with an identity that reflects our ambition and that excites our customers. We took the best bits of season one and made these even better—the exposure to expert chefs, the learning new skills and techniques, the access to unique and luxury ingredients—all wrapped up in new A Cook’s Tour branding.

How did you select the line-up of chefs and destinations?

We wanted emerging British talent as well as established experts, but ultimately, we needed to select five chefs who are the authority of their region’s cuisine, because they live and breathe it, and effortlessly convey their passion.

Top five favourite dishes?

To be completely impartial, I’m choosing one from each destination!

  • Red curry salmon in banana leaf from Discover Northern Thailand with John Chantarasak. This dish opened the tour with a fiery tempo. I loved the Southeast Asian fragrance, the spice and I adored the heat. I’ve never had salmon like it and can’t wait to try it again at his new AngloThai restaurant.
  • Assiette de Saumon Fume from A Food Lover’s Night in Paris with Anna Haugh. It was incredible to learn Anna’s thought process for plating ingredients the Michelin way. A true masterclass and skills that I’ll be using in the future
  • Jerk Chicken from Explore the Island of Mustique with Tristan Welch. Tristan’s cook-along was a joyride through the Caribbean islands. I love jerk seasoning…but to try his marinade recipe and hear his stories of Friday night BBQs ‘on Island’ was proper kitchen escapism.
  • Baked Conchiglioni from “Sicilia” with Ben Tish. Every pasta bake of mine in the future will feature burnt butter drizzled on top before serving. Inspirational and so delicious.
  • Fig, Rose and Pistachio Millefeuille from Flavours of the Middle East with Sabrina Ghayour. What a showstopper. All my favourite subtle fragrant flavours of the Middle East in one truly spectacular dessert.

Favourite wine or cocktail pairing?

So many incredible partners came on tour this season making this a very difficult question. How can one choose between Gusbourne English Sparkling wine and still wines from the foothills of Mount Etna, or between a Sicilian Negroni or a Caribbean craft ale direct from Mustique? Every wine, cocktail or beer had its place and revelled with the food and my experience. I’d urge customers to include the drinks pairing, it uplifts the experience in so many ways.

Most memorable moment from filming?

It must be the real-life stories that our chefs share—those moments or experiences that they have had, that shape the way they think about the destination, its food, people or culture. It gives so much colour to the cook-along and makes A Cook’s Tour completely unique and so much more than a traditional meal kit.

What is your favourite part about A Cook’s Tour?

I love the sense of event, it’s in my DNA and I guess this comes from my background in event catering and seeing everything coming together for a finite moment in time… I love the customer experience, the excitement and buzz on social media before, during and after. I love the beautifully packaged ingredients landing on customers’ doorsteps, seeing the photos of them being unpacked, and customers sharing their experiences of unboxing, cooking and eating. I love the idea of enthusiastic home cooks being whisked away to faraway lands and experiencing first-hand from experts, who impart their knowledge and skills. I love the variety of delicious food that is then created and enjoyed nationwide, from the north of Scotland to the South Coast. It’s completely unique and I’m immensely proud of the team at Rocket who created this product from scratch. Chapeau.

What can people expect from the next season?

You tell us! We are always looking for ways to make A Cook’s Tour even better and keep things interesting and delicious for our home cooks. At the end of this season we’ll be sending out an online survey, so with your help, the next season of A Cook’s Tour will be one that continues to inspire and delight.

Charlie Grant Peterkin
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