Billy & Jack on supper, summer, and life post-Masterchef
This August self-proclaimed Masterchef losers, Billy & Jack come to Southbank Centre to host a month-long pop-up supper club.
Located high in our St Pauls Roof Pavilion with a fantastic backdrop of the city, Billy & Jack’s Supper Club celebrates the familiar much-loved flavours of summer as well as showcasing the best seasonal produce available. True to their inventive style of cooking the menu includes such highlights as a carnival-inspired Jerk chicken and the boys’ cheeky tribute to the iconic Fab ice lolly.
Before the supper club gets under way, we picked their brains about summer food, and life after Gregg Wallace’s infamous reaction faces.
Tell us more about Billy & Jack’s Supper Club
Billy: It has the same feel as our previous supper clubs - which are all about good company with tasty inventive food and drinks to match - but with one exception, an incredible view of the London landscape.
Jack: Yeah, we must have the highest supper club in London. As with any supper club it’s much more casual than a normal restaurant, but still has amazing food! Super chilled, great food, and you get me and Billy.
So, what’s on the menu?
Billy: We love this time of year as summer brings an abundance of amazing ingredients. Broad beans, cucumber, heritage tomatoes, mackerel, sardines, cherries, everything is at its best, and so we’ve just added a little twist here and there to create a vibrant and delicious taste of the British summertime.
Jack: Our food is all about tapping into all those great summer memories, and we try to bring these to life with our dishes. We’ve even done a cheeky adult take on an old-school lolly which is pretty awesome.
People will know you both from your appearance on Masterchef, what have you been up to since then?
Billy: Pretty much straight after the final aired, Jack and I, as 'losing finalists’, decided to create Billy & Jack and we really haven’t looked back. During the past 12 months we’ve consulted on menus for restaurants, cooked our own food for paying diners at our supper clubs, taken over restaurant kitchens and hosted events for brands too, including Google and Cancer Research UK.
Jack: We’ve been building our brand, and in that time - as Billy says - we’ve done a lot of supper clubs, private dining, writing and filming… we’ve been busy, basically. It’s been so good to take on this adventure with Billy as well, as he’s a pretty decent bloke, most of the time.
How did the collaboration Billy & Jack happen, what prompted it?
Billy: It felt like a natural progression from being on Masterchef really, where we spent a great deal of time hanging around and travelling - it’s not all glamour and cameras. We filled that time with endless chat about all things food and just hit it off.
Jack: We bonded over our extremely nerdy love of all things cooking I guess. I’ve honestly never met anyone quite like him, I mean how many other people can you talk to about cooking temperatures for hours on end? He’s also a decent chef and it’s been great to work together on our food.
What’s your favourite summer food?
Jack: That’s a tough one. Perhaps one of my favourite food memories is having a disposable barbecue with a load of mates on Falmouth beach. We just chucked on some mackerel and then ate it in crunchy white rolls with a cold beer. Bliss.
Billy: At the moment, it’s beer can chicken. Who doesn’t love a barbecue and the look of that chuck when it’s all golden and juicy, perched on top of a beer? It’s both amusing and perfect.
And what do you think makes a great summer dinner party?
Jack: Well, you can get away with a salad and a glass of wine in the summer, whereas in winter people may not be so forgiving. Get the drinks in the fridge, crank up the music and always enjoy yourself. If you can’t have fun doing a dinner party, then why do one?
Billy: For me summer evokes sharing, plates of barbecued meat and big salads being passed around, eating alfresco with some crisp wine. The barbecue can easily be refined to more of a sophisticated affair, and to emphasise that we have a number of charred items on the menu.
And you can find a recipe of one such charred summer dish below, courtesy of Billy & Jack, for you to try out at home.
Charred little gem, runner beans, tahini and cucumber with a spicy nut topping
This is a great little salad for summer, packed with flavour. If you haven’t cooked with little gem before (it’s so much more than a sandwich filler) then this is a game changer! Runner beans also remind us of childhood summer holidays, they’re a bit old school but taste great.
(serves four as a side or starter)
- 4 little gem lettuce
- 10 young runner beans
- 1 medium cucumber
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 clove of smoked garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- Sea salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 50g blanched hazelnuts
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tspb sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp sumac
- Pinch sea salt
- For the dressing combine the tahini, lemon juice, honey and rapeseed oil and mix well. Crush the smoked garlic and add to the sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick add a little water until it is pouring consistently.
- To make the topping bake all of the ingredients, apart from the sumac, in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes or until toasted. Transfer to a small food processor and give them a quick pulse, but you want it to be fairly chunky so not for too long.
- To roast the runner beans, simply prepare them by removing the top and tail and removing the strings on the side. Slice into 2cm long pieces, toss in oil and salt and roast at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until brown.
- While the beans are roasting, quarter the little gems and place in a pan on a very high heat with a little oil. Once it starts to smoke and the lettuce is browning turn over so you get a nice caramelization on the lettuce. Once browned, leave to cool.
- To assemble, plate the little gem, runner beans and chopped cucumber on a large plate, (or individual plates for a starter), drizzle with tahini and top with the spiced nuts and sumac.