Christine Smallwood has been chatting to our Festival heroes and tackles the important stuff like, "Are you a messy or tidy cook?"  First on the hot seat....

Christine Smallwood and Matthew Robinson - photo: Dan Bone

Christine Smallwood and Matthew Robinson - photo: Dan Bone



What is your signature dish, or the most popular dish you cook at home?

I’ve got into trying to cook squash as quickly as possible. So braising it in a frying pan in some stock. I can make it squishy in about 15 minutes. It’s much faster than roasting it and if you have just enough liquid you end up with a nice piece of squash that’s not completely mash in a sort of thickish stock with nice flavour.

Who is your food hero?

Beth Stewart [Note: Beth was the head grower at the Forty Hall Farm Market Garden when Matthew started working there].

What was the first dish or food that you cooked regularly?

From the age of about 6, I made cakes regularly. Every weekend, mostly sponge cakes with jam in the middle.

What’s your favourite or most used cooking tool?

I’ve got a lovely stainless steel spoon that’s bigger than a tablespoon. It’s like a small serving spoon. That’s the one I like the most.

Are you a messy or a tidy cook?

I am pretty messy. I’m probably very messy. I can tolerate mess. I can also be tidy if everyone else is going to be tidy. I can play along. I can play the tidy game, but if no one else is…

Do you eat or skip breakfast? And what do you typically eat?

I always have to eat breakfast otherwise I’ll fall off my bike. Mostly home-made sourdough bread toasted with tahini and lime pickle, and a cup of Earl Grey tea with lots of unhomogenised organic milk. When I don’t have bread, I just have muesli.

Find out more about Matthew's journey to becoming Forty Hall Farm's Head Grower here.


Matthew and his team will be giving tours of the Market Garden throughout the Festival and selling their delicious produce. Rumour has it they will be showing us a favourite dish or two in a Market Garden cooking demo too!  If you’re interested in buying the veg that Matthew and his Market Garden team grow on a regular basis, go along to the farm shop at Forty Hall Farm (see opening hours on the site), subscribe to the weekly veg bag scheme or the monthly Farmers’ Market held on the farm on the second Sunday of each month.


A big thank you to Christine Smallwood. Twitter: @smallwood  Instagram: @smallwoodcg

Emma Lundie