Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 580

OFFERS Enjoy 4 for 3 on selected party food at Waitrose p38 & 58 MARTHA COLLISON Lemon posset pots and more gorgeous canapés p16-21 FUROSHIKI Japanese tradition o ers guilt-free festive wrapping p53 AML AMEEN Out of Camden and into the Hollywood dream p10 FREE 2 December 2021 TIME FOR A DI P Share the magic this Christmas and dive into our sumptuous, ready-to-bake Swiss Gruyère fondue with cream and white wine, p37

2 DECEMB ER 2021 2 NEWS&VIEWS Photography: Cristian Barnett, Mike Marsland/WireImage, Helen Cathcart, Getty Images Now in its ninth month, a cook-along campaign by chef TomKerridge and footballer Marcus Rashford to help families on low incomes is ‘ticking all the boxes’, writes Emma Higginbotham A united front in fight against food poverty When TomKerridge andMarcus Rashford launched Full TimeMeals, their campaign to call ‘full time’ on child food poverty, they had no idea how popular it would be. Since launching this April, their weekly cook-along videos have hadmore than 40million views. “It’s going incredibly well,” says chef and restaurateur Tom. “We said if it helps one family, it’s worth doing, and it’s ticking all the boxes of everything we wanted it to be and more. It’s just beenmagical.” To inspire families on low incomes with ideas for simple, nutritious dishes, every Sunday Tomuploads a cook-along video on Facebook and Instagram (@fulltimemeals). Soon after, Marcus introduces a video of a familiar face having a go at the recipe, such as Russell Brand preparing cauliflower and sweet potato curry, Dina Asher-Smith whipping up a tomato andmozzarella tart, or JoeWicks making tortilla pizzas. The videos have plenty of comedymoments, including Fearne Cotton tripping over her cat, Big Zuu setting o his smoke alarmandMarcus’ fellowEngland teammates Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady getting the giggles. “The guests have been fantastic,” says Tom. “Louis Tomlinson’s video had 1.7million views, and that’s justmaking a fish finger sandwich! More importantly, it’s the videos of kids doing it at home that have been sent in. Those are the special points, thatmake you go, my God, it really is working.” Full TimeMeals was sparked by a bleak statistic – that 4.2million children are living in poverty in the UK, and likely to go to bed hungry. Marcus and Tom’s aimwas to o er inspiration for filling, pocket-friendly dinners; to teach grown-ups and children vital cooking skills; and to encourage the use of Healthy Start vouchers, which low-income families with children aged under four (or a baby on the way) can spend on vegetables, fruit, pulses andmilk. Before the campaign, just 47%of eligible families were redeeming Healthy Start vouchers. After the launch, that rose to 55%, and by September it was 60%. “There’s been a gradual increase and that actually equates to a lot of people,” says Tom. ‘It’s lovely to say we’ve had 40 million views so far, but the uptake in vouchers and howmany people it’s helped is the most important part’ For Christmas, he’ll be demonstrating how tomake a turkey roll: using turkey escalopes stu ed with sausagemeat, andHealthy Start vouchers for the veg, it comes in at less than £10 for a family of four. “Christmas is one of those periods when the stress of those financial strains is huge,” he explains. “This recipe ensures you get a really nice turkey roast dinner, andmeans you can still get into the festive spirit.” BothTomandMarcus grewup in single-parent families and had free school meals, andTomremembers hismumstruggling financially at Christmas. “But she hadways of cooking things tomake it feel likewewere having a celebratory lunch,” he says. “It wasn’t a rib of beef, it was something like a frozen turkey roll, which is fine! As long as you provide the love, excitement and fun, you’ll have a great Christmas, and that’s whatMumalways did formyself andmy brother.” The campaign runs until spring, and the team is now looking at the data to see which videos havemade themost impact. “So we’re talking about howwe restructure to create something even bigger and better,” says Tom. However it evolves, the ultimate aimof Full TimeMeals remains the same: to fill hungry tummies, and ideally to get 100%of those who are eligible to use their Healthy Start vouchers. “It’s lovely to say we’ve had 40million views so far this year, but the uptake in the vouchers and howmany people it’s helped is themost important part,” concludes Tom. “That is what we’ve done it for – tomake a di erence to people’s lives.” callng time Marcus Rashford and Tom Kerridge are spearheading the Full Time Meals campaign celebrity cook-along Rapper Big Zuu and sprinter Dina Asher-Smith took on the challenge

2 DECEMB ER 2021 3 A pub which o ers a climate-conscious menu, and is ecofriendly in everything from its drinks to its fixtures and fittings, has opened in London. Describing itself as ‘pro-planet’, The Pig’s Head in Clapham joins the growing number of restaurants around the UK that are focusing on sustainability. “Thanks to our on-site butchery, we can buy whole animals directly from small-scale British farmers, rather than only certain cuts,” explainsMaria Hunter, who runs the pub with her husband Scott. “Our chef Michael Chan has been trained in how to butcher animals tominimise waste, so we use everything in our daily changingmenu.” Meat is not the only focus. In fact, half themenu is vegetarian and vegan, featuring dishes such as celeriac schnitzel and mushroomWellington. “By having lots of alternatives tomeat, as well as serving seasonal food, we’re encouraging our guests to bemore climate aware,” saysMaria. Meanwhile, house spirits come from small-batch producers, such as 58 Gin, a London distillery that uses solar panels for its Pub offering a delicious way to be pro-planet An Earthly Christmas would be incomplete without a festive jumper. In this year’s John Lewis festive ad, a boy introduces a space traveller to the wonders of the season and shows o his light-up fir tree sweater. As worn by 14-year-old actor Jordan A Nash, who plays Nathan in the commercial, the jumper is now being sold by John Lewis in aid of Give a Little Love, the Partnership’s campaign to help families with young children in need of a happier Christmas. Instead of lighting up, like the one Jordan wears in the ad, the jumper is embellished withmetallic thread. For each one sold, 10% of the price will be split between Give a Little Love’s two partner charities – FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistributor, and nationwide family support networkHomeStart UK – and other local charities. Raising £3million and reaching 100,000 Snap up a Christmas jumper for a good cause families when it launched last Christmas, it’s hoped Give a Little Love will help evenmore people in 2021. Customers can donate online at waitrose.com/love or johnlewis.com/love, and via QR codes displayed in stores. Thanks to the newMagical Christmas programme, 165Home-Start UK families will be gifted whatever they need tomake this festive season special, from turkey and trimmings to scooters and new pyjamas, all supplied byWaitrose and John Lewis. Jordan, best known for playing Peter Pan in live-actionmovie Come Away, has been acting since he was five, with other recent credits including BBC’s Call theMidwife and Sky’s Breeders withMartin Freeman. Alice Ryan The Christmas Advert 2021 Jumper is available at johnlewis.com, from£14/each energy, and 21 of the wines are selected from wineries across England andWales. The décor also reflects the couple’s green commitment. Everything from the tables and chairs to the cutlery and candlesticks has had a previous life, to limit buying newmaterials. Maria says: “Our next goal is tomake our menu carbon neutral, but there’s a lot of data related to the carbon footprint of ingredients to process first.” Anna Shepard climate aware Scott and Maria Hunter of The Pig’s Head in Clapham, London ( left); fried Cooley Gold oysters on the daily changing menu (below) MINCE PIES AND MIRTH WITH ASHLEY This week on the Waitrose podcast Life on a Plate, Ashley Jensen (right) talks about the no-frills food of her 70s childhood in Scotland, why Frank Spencer inspired her acting career, and how she and Heston bonded over life-afärming chats (and mince pies) during the älming of the Waitrose Christmas advert. waitrose.com/podcast EMOTIONAL WIN The Waitrose Good Life Animal Welfare app, which measures how farm animals are feeling, has won the Farming for the Future category at the BBC Food & Farming Awards. The app, developed with Scotland’s Rural College, records how animals express emotions through behaviours such as being relaxed, tense, playful or anxious. The technology aims to boost their quality of life and help raise welfare standards across the UK. RAINBOW LACES SUPPORT They’ve become a symbol of inclusion, with more than a million pairs of rainbow laces worn to support LGBTQIA+ people in sport. This year’s Rainbow Laces campaign by charity Stonewall urges the sporting world to ‘Lace Up and Speak Up’. On 8 December, newlook laces will be displayed at Wembley Stadium, and it’s hoped that more coaches, clubs and athletes will help to make sport more inclusive. THE GIFT OF SLEEP A teacher from Leeds has provided 1,400 beds to children across the city in need of a proper place to sleep. Bex Wilson founded charity Zarach in 2017 after realising some of her pupils were sleeping on cushions. Referrals come from 200 partner schools, and bundles include a new bed, mattress, duvet, pillow, sheets, pyjamas and hygiene kit. “If a child sleeps and eats well, they learn better,” says Bex. zarach.org SEA LIFE SUPER-HIGHWAY Four South American countries are uniting to create a 500,000 sq km marine reserve in the South Paciäc, increasing the size of the Galapagos Marine Reserve by 45%. The Eastern Tropical Paciäc Marine Corridor will include Cocos Ridge, an underwater mountain range that’s a vital migration route for sealife. Fishing will also be banned to allow endangered marine species such as green turtles (below) to recover. THE GOOD NEWS GUIDE A weekly round-up of heartwarming stories Cover Photography: Martha’s canapes

4 2 DECEMB ER 2021 Château La Raze Beauvallet (was £14.99/75cl) A classy Bordeaux with notes of blackcurrant, tobacco leaf and spice. Les Clos du Matin Pouilly-Fumé (was £15.99/75cl) From the heart of the Loire Valley, made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Grande Classique Crozes-Hermitage (was £15.99/75cl) From the Northern Rhône. Ripe blackberries with a hint of black pepper on the finish. Primitivo di Manduria Riserva (was £14.99/75cl) A combination of old vines and mineral rich soils produce this intensely flavoured wine. Gaia Organic Malbec (was £16.99/75cl, offer ends 2 January) Red and black fruit notes with spicy aromas. Juicy and fruity with mature tannins. Mirabeau Pure Provence Rosé (was £15.49/75cl) Strawberry notes followed by raspberries, ripe cherries and a hint of rhubarb. The Hedonist Shiraz (was £14.49/75cl) A deliciously silky and smooth wine with dark-fruit flavours and an intense palate. Bird in Hand Sparkling (was £15.99/75cl) Awash in strawberry flavours and cherry aromas, with a hint of floral for the perfect fizz. Broglia Gavi di Gavi DOCG (was £15.99/75cl) From one of Gavi’s top producers, fresh, dry, textured and with a persistent finish. Kopke Reserve Tawny Port (was £14.99/75cl) From the world’s oldest port house – founded in 1638 – this has a long, lingering, finish. F INE WINES AT JUST £10 EACH Pick up that special bottle for Christmas or try something new. Available in store and at waitrosecellar.com. Offer ends 15 December unless otherwise stated Prices correct at time of going to print. Selected stores. Subject to availability

5 2 DECEMB ER 2021 Clad in rainproof orange, smiling at me generously under the street light, the beardedman onmy doorstep carefully handed the plastic bag over. “I’m sorry it has takenme 11 months,” he said. “Elevenmonths is fine,” I remarked. “And last year I didn’t even have one.” A stranger might have been puzzled by the exchange, as if we were agents speaking in code. ‘One’ meant Christmas – last year I didn’t even have a Christmas, because I was in bed with Covid between the hysterically unlucky dates of 24-27 December. The Kent variant acted like a Time to get more switched on over Christmas lights neon sign downstairs flashed and faded. I survived Covid, but my neon light had no pulse left. This is where it got interesting, because what do you do when your neon Christmas sign becomes a useless lump of plastic? In themodern age people will use any excuse to throw stu out and buy again. But I live with teenage girls who don’t want their later years buried in a tsunami of landfill, so after a discussion we agreed. It would not be thrown out. It would not be replaced. It would be repaired. Luckily I belong to aWhatsApp group peopled by kind souls who are trying to extol the joy of a new local cycle lane (well, we all need a hobby). On the group I gave a shout-out to anyone who could take on the job of repairingmy neon sign. Forward stepped Simon, and this week he returned the decoration in perfect working order. How grateful was I? Right in time for Christmas, I plugged in the sign. The kitchen pulsed red. But now there’s a problem. Since 2020 the world has changed. COP26 and all that. Now the thought is not that we should repair broken Christmas lights, but that we should consider not having any in the first place. The Energy Saving Trust claims the UK could fill more than 15,000 hot air balloons with the carbon dioxide produced by our Christmas lighting each year. MPs are complaining too – the co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dark Skies AndrewGri th has called for restraint in the outdoor decoration of homes as well as the use of timers. Asked about fairy lights, a Green Party spokesman said: “We have got to weigh up the e ect on our planet.”Mr Gri th added that if modern Christmas lighting had been present in Bethlehem, “the three wisemen would never have found baby Jesus”. After much thought, I think I’ve got the solution. Repair the light to avoid throwing it away, put it up in the same window as last year, just never turn it on. Then everyone’s happy. WHY PLUMBERS ARE FLUSH Britain’s most famous plumber is a ringer for Rod Stewart. There, I’ve said it. But CharlieMullins won’t mind – he’s had a smile on his face the width of an industrial drainpipe since selling his company Pimlico Plumbers for a reported £125million. He started the company underMrs Thatcher and still has a picture of her in his hallway. I sawCharlie this week and congratulated him on being £100million richer since we last met. “Do you,” I asked, “still plumb?Would you come and fix a stopcock?” He said no, which was a shame, becausemy last experience with a U-bend was unhappy. I had called emergency plumbers to unblock a toilet at home. The workman took a look and said he could do it, “but youmay be angry afterwards”. “Why would I be angry if it’s fixed?” I asked, puzzled. “You’ll see,” he said. He screwed four metal poles together and fitted a rubber plunger to the end. Next he placed the plunger into the toilet bowl and used his entire bodyweight to force down the rod with a single stroke. The toilet burped, air emerged and the water level was instantly restored to normal. “That’s £125 plus VAT,” he said. “You’re joking! That took about 10 seconds!” I exclaimed. “I said you’d be angry,” he replied. heat-seekingmissile onmy 2020 festive season. Feverish, coughing like aMorrisMinor, I could literally hear the Christmas I was missing downstairs – shrieks of joy at gifts, the gentle splash of gravy on turkey – but was not allowed to join in. When I checked the isolation rules with a doctor friend, she said I should only access the garden via the kitchen roof. Anyway, back to the present day andmy doorstep encounter. The orange-cladman under the street lamp is actually not a secret agent but Simon, a local gentleman with knowledge of electrics. His time with the BBC (a di erent branch tomine) has given him the ability to repair things which any other organisation would chuck into a skip, and when he says “I’m sorry it has takenme 11 months,” he is referring to a large red neon sign saying ‘Merry Christmas’ which I have been in the habit of placing in our front window for a good decade now. Last Christmas I was not the only one who went on the blink. As I lay in bed, head throbbing, the Illustration: Sam Kalda/Folioart NEWS&VI EWS MY WEEK Jeremy Vine

6 2 DECEMB ER 2021 NEWS&VI EWS PAUL AINSWORTH chef-patron, Paul Ainsworth at No6, Padstow, Cornwall I love themagic of people travelling to be with family, gathering round a table at Christmas. At ours, it’ll beme, my wife Emma, our daughter Cici who’s five, my mum, my sister and her husband and Emma’s great-grandma, Nanny Joanie. We’re so lucky to have her with us. I cook. I put out bowls of roast potatoes I lost my dad in 2015. When he andmum came for Christmas, we always did that. It’s a wonderful memory, and such a beautiful place. I never take Cornwall for granted. paul-ainsworth.co.uk JAMES COCHRAN chef-owner, 12:51, Islington, London I go bonkers at Christmas, over the top every year. I’m in charge. I do a little mise en place list, my brother’s wife does a wine pairing. There’s a turkey crown, fore rib of beef, jerk ham, whole duck… In winter, my Scottish roots come to the fore, so there’s game and whiskey sours, and the cheeseboard is ridiculous. The amount of calories! But why not? It’s Christmas. This year’s di erent. I’mgoing tomy girlfriend’s parents. Me and her mumhave been talking about themenu since summer. It’s my first time, so I want to impress. I might have to hire a car, I’mbringing so much kit – a water bath, my Thermomix, portable fryer, the essentials. Then we’re going on holiday, to Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. My girlfriend’s never been and I can’t wait to introduce her to foods like conch soup, callaloo and tri tri. There’ll be rumpunch and sunbathing, and it’ll be great to see family after so long. 1251.co.uk ANDREW WONG owner and head chef, AWong, Pimlico, London We don’t close for Chinese NewYear, Easter or in the summer – but we do for Christmas. It’s our proper break. My wife’s from the Seychelles and this year, we’ll be there. Mymother-in-law is an incredible cook. There’ll be amassive beach barbecue with bourgeois red snapper, octopus curries, palmheart salad, normally turkey too. Seychelles food is veryMediterranean – light, citrussy, lots of fish, maybe just with coconut, a little lemon and salt. It’s lovely for a week or two, but when you’re used to Chinese food, your palatemisses umami! Our children are five and seven. They’ll open their presents on Christmas Day. They’ll love it, and seeing themwith their cousins will be fantastic. awong.co.uk ROBERTA HALL-MCCARRON chef-patron, The Little Chartroom, Edinburgh, Scotland It’s such a busy time, with The Little Chartroommoving and opening our wine bar Eleanore in its space very soon. But I love Christmas. I’m like a child. Edinburgh always looks so festive and everyone’s in and veg, cauliflower cheese, two or three meats – a ham, beef, turkey. Everyone passes bowls around. It’s a feast! I’ll also make a beautiful poached quince and apple trifle with quince jelly, sponge fingers, and custard (nothing wrong with Bird’s!). I’ll whisk up cream cheese and crème fraîche with orange zest, vanilla, and Cointreau, fold it into whipped creamand sprinkle it all with roasted hazelnuts, freeze-dried raspberries, and grated chocolate. We’ll walk on Daymer beach with the dogs, Flossie and Freddie. Chefs and their festive tables It’s been a tough 21 months for restaurants and the people who work in them, and while their passion to welcome guests with delicious food is undimmed, even top cooks need a break. Tessa Allingham asks how some of them hope to celebrate Christmas if no new coronavirus restrictions are imposed island feast AndrewWong is ready to enjoy the Seychelles’ bourgeois red snapper cheers! James Cochran will be serving up whiskey sours

7 2 DECEMB ER 2021 a great mood. If I hadmy way, I’d go round the Christmas markets or ice skating with Shaun [Roberta’s husband and business partner], but he takes a lot of persuading. We’ll be at my parents’. I normally cook, but last year Shaun did one of our turkey Wellingtonmealkits, so even though I’d technically done the prep, I could sit down and drink Champagne. I’ve tried to deviate from turkey over the years, but everyone likes it. I made a pie on Great BritishMenu this year that everyone went a bit nuts for and we’ll have that on Boxing Day. My dad and I always choose the tree together – we’ve done it for 15 years, and it’s become a lovely tradition. Decorations? Classy, no tinsel! thelittlechartroom.com BEN COOKE chef-founder, The Little Gloster and The Lille Cabin, Isle ofWight Baby number two arrives mid-December. With that, and U a, who’s five, and launching The Lille Cabin [online cookery classes and studio] and teaching the UK Superyacht Hospitality course at the UK Sailing Academy, we’re busy. We’ll be withmy family, the Danish side, this Christmas on the Isle of Wight. Normally, Holly and I look after themain course, but with the new baby, Mumwill do it. We’ll have a beautiful cut of meat or bird – turkey, rib of beef, goose, pork. There’ll be pickled red cabbage and caramelised potatoes, mymormor’s [grandmother’s] speciality. She would boil and peel potatoes, make a butter caramel and caramelise the potatoes from cold. So good! We’ll go tomidnight mass at Quarr Abbey, a Benedictinemonastery near Ryde. It’s peaceful. We’ll reflect on the year gone, and plan for the one to come. I love coldwater swimming so I’ll make time for that. And whether we’re withmy Danish family or Holly’s family in Sussex, everything stops for The Queen’s Speech! thelittlegloster.com NISHA KATONA chef- founder, Mowgli Street Food, Liverpool and nationwide From 1 December, my tree is up and Christmas starts. My daughters are 18 and 20, but there is still such childlike joy in decorating the house. My husband is Hungarian, andmymother-in-law is an incredible cook. She’ll make beigli, which are rolled pastries stu ed with poppy seeds or sweetened walnuts. Carp is traditional inHungary, and stu ed cabbage and fantastically clear soups – really hearty food. We have that, and English food, and my Indian family cooking curries. Three nations of food. InHungary, they bread their turkey but I’mnot a fan. Turkey leg is one of the best meats. Buy the best you can and simmer in lots of liquid so they’re just the other side of pink – the flavour is to die for. I might make a lamb raan. Last year, I was blitzing up themarinade spices, and my daughter’s gingerbread house was there. Instead of binning it, I put it in the marinade, icing and all. I smothered the lamb with it and it was divine – sweetness, ginger, cinnamon and spice, fabulous for a Christmassy lamb dish. Nisha’s book 30MinuteMowgli (Nourish Books) is out now; mowglistreetfood.com KATY TAYLOR & JOEY O’HARE private chefs and founders, Cowshed Suppers, Thorington, Su olk Katy I’mslightlymad about Christmas. I plan every recipe to a T, source every bit of fruit, veg, rare-breedmeat, every scallop, choose every jelly and chutney. I love the build-up. I’ve turned into a bit of a preserving queen recently. We’ve got fruit trees wherewe live in Su olk and I’vemade quince jams and damson jellies that we’ll use over Christmas and store for our business. Joey We’re both frombig families, but this year it’s just Katy, her mum andme, and we’ll be on the Isle of Wight. We’ve decided the starter – old-school coquilles St Jacques with a beautiful white burgundy – and we’ll have somethingmore extravagant than turkey as we’re just three. We’ll go for long walks with our cavapoo, Roo the Sous, and I will swim. I amobsessed with cold-water swimming – the icier it is, the better! Veg-centric Cowshed Suppers start in spring. @joeyandkatycook ALEX NIETOSVUORI chef-patron, Hjem, Wall, Northumberland Ally, my partner, and I are building a house, so fingers crossed that we’ll have Christmas in our new home. It’s just across the road from the restaurant. Normally, though, Ally’s mother cooks a traditional English Christmas dinner withmore food than anyone can ever eat. I’mnot really a turkey fan, but it’s great to be with family – there’s about 15 of us round the table. A Swedish Christmas is very di erent. It’s a dreamof heaven! There’s a bu et – a julebord – with charcuterie and pâtés, fish including eel, salmon and pickled herring (English people don’t seem to like herring; Ally hates it!), rye breads, cheese, hot dishes likemeatballs, potato gratin, spare ribs… We will start eating at around 3pmon Christmas Eve, and then carry on into the night, drinking schnapps and singing carols. When Santa Claus knocks, we’ll give him rice porridge so he can continue his travels. It’s like rice pudding but better, with vanilla and cinnamon in the rice and whipped cream folded through it. restauranthjem.co.uk global flavours Nisha Katona will prepare an Indian lamb raan to go with Hungarian and English dishes on the big day santa’s treat Alex Nietosvuori will prepare a Swedish rice pudding for Santa on the move Roberta Hall-McCarron’s The Little Chartroom is relocating seafood sensation Scallops will feature on Katy and Joey’s festive table Photography: iStock / Getty Images Plus, @lateef.photography, Shutterstock, Jutta Klee, © StockFood, Amelia Claudia , Stephanie Mackrill

8 2 DECEMB ER 2021 NEWS&VI EWS IN MY OPINION Fi Glover The Radio 4 journalist airs her views IN MY OPINION i lover j l Many things can divide a nation – shifting geopolitical plates, views on climate change, who should win Bake O , and whether or not you are considering buying cryptocurrency. I’mnot, but it would seemafter the arrival in our corner shop of a cryptocurrency ‘cash’ machine by the dog food and firelighters that many of you are already popping out to get some triple-A batteries and a red onion and buy some Bitcoin for £33k while you’re there. I cannot fathom this way of keepingmoney. It’s not just this that is unsettlingme. The non-fungible token (NFT) is my latest bamboozler. It’s set to be an endless source of consternation betweenme andmy teenagers, who insist this digital formof copyrighting is the way forward and that my olde worlde viewwhere, for example, a painter paints something on canvas and someone buys it is as relevant to the future as a coal scuttle. NFTs are digital tokens that act as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets. You can sell these tokens if you own the original ‘thing’. Clear? No. There’s somuch I don’t understand. What’s to prevent you from3D printing your ownNFT?Why wouldn’t you just buy a limited-edition print? And, as this week proved, what is an artist meant to do if someone takes something they’ve already done and slaps their ownNFT label on it? David Bailey and Anish Kapoor are among big-name creatives who are reportedly dismayed to find that some StarWars helmets they were asked to individualise some time ago have popped up under anNFT banner, without thembeing paid for their reproduction. I’mas lost in this intergalactic futuristic art market as you are. I often have to admit that my way of viewing the world is no longer fit for purpose. Anyone over 50 probably finds themselves in a similar position. I’d like to state here and now that I’ll be singing the praises of the NFT by 2030 with a ferocity that only a well-versed hypocrite has access to. In themeantime, I did findmyself saying to the teens that if NFTs really were the dog’s wotsits then they wouldn’t mindme giving thema token instead of their usual bulging Christmas stocking – perhaps with added Christmas kindness of a bitcoin block chain reference number, too. The look on their faces was positively 20th century. Mumwins – for now. ‘I often have to admit that my way of viewing the world is no longer fit for purpose’ Fortunately…with Fi and Jane and The Listening Project are on BBC Sounds @fifiglover Christmas is amagical time when families come together to celebrate and bemerry. But formany refugees and asylumseekers, it can be a period dominated by loneliness and concern about uncertain futures and the safety of faraway familymembers. By the end of 2020, there were 132,349 refugees in Britain, and thousands of Afghans were evacuated to these shores after the fall of Kabul in the summer. Applying for asylum in the UK is a long process and often refugees fromcountries including Syria, Iran and Sudan are left destitute. But in this post-lockdown #BeKind time you can help. All you need is a spare room. Sara Nathan, trustee and co-founder of Refugees at Home, a UK charity that connects people with a spare room to refugees and asylumseekers in need of somewhere to stay, has hosted 27 refugees and calls it “an immensely positive experience”. Sara says: “I’vemet people I never would havemet, tried di erent foods and learnt about the world, all while giving people a helping hand by o ering thema room that I don’t need, at a time when they definitely do.” Refugees at Home helped place Kenan, 34, fromSyria withDavid and Diana Noble in their three-bedroom home in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He stayed fromNovember 2020 until March this year. Diana, a first-time host, says: “We always buy a natural Christmas tree and Kenan’s first jobwas to help choose the perfect one. It was probably the largest we’ve ever had.” Hosting a refugee at Christmas If you have a room going spare, enjoy a full house or just want to help those in need at this time of year, shelter and company could be the greatest gift you can give over the festive season, writes Judy Cogan friends in need Last year David and Diana Noble opened their home to Syrian refugee Kenan (below); Colleen Molloy (right, pictured left) with Iranian refugee Maghol; Magda Szlenkier and family celebrate the big day with Polish traditions and invite Syrian doctor Ayman (below right) On Christmas Day they walked aroundOld SarumCastle with dog Pinto, exchanged presents and enjoyed a traditional festive dinner. Kenan cooked a traditional Syrian dish, fatteh. Diana says: “We learnt quickly there’s a great tradition in Syria of giving. With the little bit of money Kenan had he went to the local shops to buy us gifts. He knew I like the garden so he found a little solar light-up animal and gave David amobile phone holder.” Kenan received useful presents such as pullovers and socks, as well as chocolates and shortbread. He says: “I got a lot of nice gifts, it was a really nice experience with somany firsts – the crackers, the carols, the cranberry sauce, I never knew about this Christmas sauce!” Kenan, who had been in the Penally asylumcamp in Pembrokeshire (it

9 2 DECEMB ER 2021 closed inMarch) felt ‘blessed’ to spend his first UKChristmas with the Nobles. “I felt instantly at home,” he says. “But I couldn’t help thinking about the people I’d left behind in the camp and my family and friends far away. Finally, being among family was nice and essential formymental health.” Kenan has sincemoved toHackney, Londonwhere he works as an o ce administrator. He’s busy organising art exhibitions through his charity Life Seekers Aid (swapping asylum for life). What didDiana andDavid learn from him? “His generosity of spirit, his enthusiasm, his drive to get on and make a di erence and support himself. You get farmore out than you put in.” In Leicester, ColleenMolloy, 65, who has been hosting refugees since 2011, forged a special mother-daughter bond withMaghol, an Iranian refugee who stayedwith her in 2016. Colleen says: “I knewMaghol was on her own and lonely. So after she’d gone we invited her for Christmas. She’s joined us every year since. She’s a happy, lovely presence. “One of my happiest memories was on a Christmas Day walk. We all got so muddy andMaghol was holdingmy hand in case I slipped. I think she treats me as she would her ownmum.” Room for Refugees, a hosting network run by Positive Action inHousing , a small Glasgow-based charity, matched them. Maghol has got to knowColleen’s children Liam, 31 andHannah, 25 and “mucks in like any familymember” at Christmas, says Colleen. Maghol, who is now studying nursing at BirminghamCity University says: “We cook, we open presents and play games. But also these peoplemademe happy, supportedme and o ered such kindness when I felt so isolated. I was accepted into Colleen’s home like part of her family and finally saw the meaning of Christmas.” Whether you are retired, an empty nester, a young family or have a separate annexe, you can apply to be a host. Others even give up their living rooms. ForMagda Szlenkier fromBrockley, London hermotivationwas simple. “My parents were Polish refugees in the SecondWorldWar and I was always curious about what support they received in the UK. We should give a warmwelcome to people who have had to leave home.” Magda and her husband began hosting in 2017 after their daughters left home. InDecember 2020 Ayman, 26, a Syrian doctor, moved in for his first Christmas in the UK. Magda says: “On Christmas Day we eat a traditional turkey dinner so we bought ours froma halal butcher, as Ayman only eats halal meat. On Christmas Eve we celebrate with a fish meal and Polish Christmas carols. There is a Polish tradition for the laying of an extra place at the table in case someone in need turns up.” The family also shared oplatek, a Polishwafer traditionally broken into pieces to wish everyone future health and happiness. They gifted Ayman, now anNHS healthcare assistant, Syrian biscuits, a hat and gloves and pot plants. He says: “As a SyrianMuslim, everything was new tome. But I loved the warm feelings of sharing happy, family times.” Sara insists the process is thorough: “We are careful about everyone’s safety, after all we are facilitating strangers living together in the same home.” Colleen describes hosting as a “win-win,” adding: “You are helping somebody, but you’re also getting their friendship and their kindness. It opens yourmind and your heart.” To host a refugee at your home this Christmas, visit roomforrefugees.com and refugeesathome.org ‘I’m giving people a helping hand by o ering them a room that I don’t need at a time when they definitely do’ 1 Where are you? At the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, rehearsing for Cinderella. Out of the window I can see a poster advertising the panto, with a big picture of me, frightening any passers-by. 2 What signiäes the start of Christmas for you? The start of panto rehearsals. This is my 21st year of doing panto. 3 Episode one of the new series of Two Doors Down has a veggie curry theme. Could you see Christine becoming vegan? Never. She would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to eat anything vegan – though she will generally eat anything that’s put in front of her. 4 How long does it take you to get into character for Christine? I’ve lost three stone since the last series, so I now wear a bodysuit. Then the wig goes on too, and off I go. I adore playing Christine, the scripts and cast are so wonderful. 5 What do you never miss an episode of? I record Channel 4 News and I love Coronation Street, but I miss the older Alan Bennett-type characters, like Norris. 6 You played Rab C Nesbitt’s long-suffering wife Mary Doll. What was the worst thing she had to put up with? Rab C Nesbitt! 7 Where do you keep the Bafta you won for Two Doors Down? It’s on a shelf next to my award for Best Fairy in the UK, which I won at the Panto Awards. The Bafta-winning actor on wearing a bodysuit and being crowned Britain’s best fairy 7 QUESTIONS WITH… ELAINE C SMITH The new series of Two Doors Down is on BBC Two/iPlayer from 6 December at 10pm. Interview: Nick Neads Photography: iStock, Getty Images

10 2 DECEMB ER 2021 NEWS&VI EWS Boxing clever “I’m being very LA today,” says Aml Ameen when Weekend catches up with him. He’s fresh froma stroll down SantaMonica beach and is sipping something green and healthy-looking froma local organic juice bar. Despite having lived in the city of angels for a decade, it’s the first time the 36-year-old has been home in 18months, having somehowmanaged tomake a film in London, a TV series inWinnipeg, Canada, and another movie in Pittsburgh – all in themidst of a global pandemic. It’s the latest chapter in a 20-year journey that’s seen the actor go frombeing an extra on Grange Hill to playingMartin Luther King Jr in amovie co-produced by the Obamas. Along the way, he’s done everything from sci-fi blockbuster TheMaze Runner to the lead in Idris Elba’s Yardie. And now he’s on amission to spread a little yuletide cheer with Boxing Day, a festive romcomon which he serves as director, co-writer and leadingman. No pressure, then. The filmarose froma desire tomake amovie that “reflected the life I’ve lived,” explains Aml. “I think we’ve done a terrific job, as black British filmmakers, highlighting stories of trauma, or rags-to-riches stories. Kidulthood, which I was a part of, did that, Top Boy has done it exceptionally well. But I guess I wanted to tell a story about British people who just happen to be black.” With that inmind, Weekend wonders howAml feels about his directorial debut being widely hailed as ‘the first black British romcom’? “It’s the first black British romcom, everyone!” he bellows into an imaginarymegaphone. “Black people are here! Look, if it’s amarker in British history, being the first black romcom, then I embrace that,” he says. “But this is coming from the specificity of who I am. That’s the reason I made this film.” In the film, Aml playsMelvin, a Hollywood-based British actor-turned-writer (remind you of anyone?) who returns home to London for the holidays with his pregnant fiancée Lisa (Aja Naomi King). As well as the various members of his extended clan, including Brit screen royaltyMarianne Jean-Baptiste as his mumShirley, he also runs into his pop star ex, Georgia (LittleMix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock, in her acting debut), setting the scene for a series of romantic entanglements that swing fromheartbreak to high farce. One scene that caught people’s attention when it appeared in the trailer wasMelvin standing in the street, holding up a series of cue cards, à la AndrewLincoln in Love Actually, begging for Lisa’s forgiveness, only to be told, “Bruv, dem tings don’t work nomore.” But if that sounds like the film is intended as a dig in the ribs to Richard Curtis’ own festive fairy tale, nothing could be further from the truth. “I love Richard Curtis movies,” says Aml. “There’s no way it’s meant to be a satire of those films. There are three films that inspiredme tomake this movie. One is My Best Friend’s Wedding, one is The Philadelphia Story, and the other is Love Actually. I love that film. It’s such a re-watchablemovie, and I wanted tomake a film that was equally re-watchable for today’s audience – one that was relevant for British people as a whole, but also, you know, a little hug for black British people and our cultural contribution to our country.” In the past, Curtis’ films – Notting Hill, in particular – have stood accused of presenting a whitewashed version of London. So Boxing Day isn’t in any way a political statement, designed to redress the balance? “No,” says Aml. “I can be political when I’m ready. But that is not what this movie is about. This movie is about the universality of family and friends at Christmas.” The central hook of a large British-Caribbean family gathering for an annual 26 December knees-up is another element that’s verymuch drawn fromAml’s own life, while the faultlines that run through the family – including the open wound of Melvin’s parents’ divorce – also blend elements of autobiography and fiction. Aml Ameen’s acting journey has taken him from The Bill to Hollywood – now he’s aiming to follow Richard Curtis as the king of the Christmas romcom, writes Paul Kirkley

11 2 DECEMB ER 2021 ‘I wanted to make a film that was relevant for British people as a whole, but also, a little hug for black British people and our cultural contribution to our country’ Photography: © Daniel Hambury / Evening Standard / eyevine

13 2 DECEMB ER 2021 NEWS&VI EWS “Like any family, we have our dysfunctions,” says Aml. “But my parents have been divorced since I was 15, so we’re 15-plus years on in terms of our issues being ironed out. My parents will both be at the premiere having a laugh.” Did he take any inspiration fromhis friend Idris Elba – another actor-writer-director triple threat? “He doesn’t write, OK. Can you print that?” laughs Aml. “I said this to him: ‘You don’t write, mate. You do everything else: you act, you direct, you DJ, you’re the sexiest man alive. But you don’t write.” (For the record, Idris has created a couple of TV comedies, but we’ll let it go.) “I first met him in 2006, when Kidulthood came out,” Aml recalls. “I met him through a DJ friend of mine and he was like: ‘Mate, they’re loving us out there [in America] – you’ve got to go out there.’” A few years later, the pair found themselves on the same flight to LA, by the end of which Aml had e ectively bagged the lead role of gangster ‘D’ in Idris’ 2018 film Yardie. More recently, Aml worked with another creator who’s taken decisive control of her own ship when he appeared as Simon inMichaela Coel’s Bafta and Emmy-winning cultural phenomenon IMay Destroy You. “I was incredibly proud to be a part of it, and incredibly fascinated,” he says. “I learned somuch fromobservingMichaela.” Aml grew up in Camden, where his Jamaicanmother worked as a psychotherapist and his father, who’s fromSaint Vincent, ran an African-Caribbean business development foundation. Having “jumped out of mymother’s womb and announced I wanted to be an actor”, aged six he persuaded his dad – a former singer with Caribbean band The Bitches, who had once opened for The Rolling Stones – to send him to a private stage school, where he studied everything from acting to tap and ballet. Within a few years, he was a regular on theWest End stage, performing inmusicals including Oliver! and The Jolson Story. Aged 11, he was present at amoment of pop-cultural history when he appeared alongsideMichael Jackson at The Brits. After two days of rehearsals (during which he recalls the King of Pop turning to himand saying: “Hey, I’mMichael,” in a surprisingly deep voice), themessianic performance of Earth Song was famously gatecrashed by Jarvis Cocker. “If you go on YouTube, I’m the kid standing next toMichael Jackson with a turban onmy head,” says Aml. “I remember Michael teaching us a secret handshake. He said: ‘If you do this, you’ll be successful.’” Though hailed as a people’s hero at the time, presumably Jarvis’ intervention was less welcome fromwhere Aml stood? “As an adult, I find it funny,” he says. “I think it’s disruptive, I think it’s rude, I think it’s unnecessary. But Jarvis Cocker did what he thought he needed to do.” Since Jacko, Aml has got used to hanging out with superstars. “I met Prince,” he beams. “I partied with Prince, at his house in Bel Air, withmy friend GuguMbatha-Raw. Now that was amazing.” Does he still get starstruck? “Man, listen, whoever you find dope, you’re always going to geek out on,” he says. “Like – here’s a nice little name-drop – last week, I was at a premiere with Jay-Z, and Kelly Rowland came rushing up to talk tome about Boxing Day. “She said: ‘I helped put Leigh-Anne together with Little Mix [as a judge on The X Factor], I can’t wait to see it.’ And I was like: woah, it’s Kelly Rowland. I had a crush on her when I was a kid!” In 2006, Aml got his screen break playing the lead in Kidulthood, an unflinching portrait of inner-city London life. The same year, he joined ITV drama The Bill as gangmemberturned-police constable Lewis Hardy. Asked by a journalist during a promotional interviewwhere he wanted to be in five years’ time, the then 19-year-old – perhaps recalling Idris Elba’s recent advice – gave a confident reply of: Hollywood. Aml made it in four. Landing a regular gig onNBC legal drama Harry’s Law, followed by a film role asMariah Carey’s son in historical biopic The Butler, his Hollywood career was up and running. He’s far fromalone in havingmade that journey, of course. “It’s an unfortunate truth that, but there’s no black [British] actor who’s had international success who’s not gone to America,” Aml said recently, citing Idris Elba, Daniel Kaluuya and long-time pal John Boyega as examples. But he’s optimistic that more opportunities are opening up back home. “If you look at IMay Destroy You, or Yardie, or Reggie Yates making Pirates, or Rapmanmaking Blue Story, you can see things are changing,” he says. “It’s a collection of people creating British narratives that can travel the world. That’s been an amazing shift in the last 10 years.” So what, asks Weekend, is the daily reality of life in La-La Land for Aml? “The reality,” he says, with a grin, “is that it’s November, I’ve just been strolling out in SantaMonica, where it’s hot, and there are lots of pretty people running around. I went to the gym, then I went to Kreation [the organic juicery]… “LA can be exactly what it says on the tin, you know? I love it because of the weather. And because America, in general, has been the catalyst for me achievingmy dreams.” A kid fromCamden, living the American Dream in Hollywood? It’s like all his Christmases have come at once. Boxing Day is in cinemas fromDecember 3 Aml is starring as Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Netåix’s Rustin, a biopic of the gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, directed by George C Wolfe and co-produced by Barack and Michelle Obama. “It’s been one of the great honours of my life to understand the life and the spirit of the man,” says Aml. Though Boxing Day is his ärst feature, Aml has previously directed half a dozen short älms through his production company, AmeenDream Entertainment. Aml is a private man. “I’m the sort of person who would get married and have a child, and not announce it to the world,” he says. “I’ve had wonderful relationships, and they’ve come and gone. But I believe in longevity, so that’s what I’m looking for in my life.” LIVING THE DREAM brit export Aml in his new romcom Boxing Day with Leigh-Anne Pinnock ( left); in 2014’s The Maze Runner (below left); with Idris Elba on the set of Yardie (below) ‘LA can be exactly what it says on the tin. I love it because America has been the catalyst of me achieving my dreams’ Photography: Warner Bros, Alamy Stock Photo

2 DECEMB ER 2021 15 FOOD&DRINK Bitesized brilliance Martha Collison serves canapés to delight your guests p16 Taking stock Diana Henry on being prepared in the run-up to Christmas p25 Festive sparkles Our selection of delicious, a ordable party wine and fizz p26 Photography: Maja Smend Food Styling: Jennifer Joyce Props Styling: Wei Tang

2 DECEMB ER 2021 16 FOOD&DRINK Martha’s canapés Makes 10 pots Prepare 10 minutes Cook 20 minutes 250g macaroni 20g unsalted butter 30ml trufåe oil 2 tbsp plain åour 450ml milk 100g Essential Mature British Cheddar 200g Godminster Trufåe Cheddar, änely crumbled 75g mozzarella, chopped Handful chives, änely chopped, to serve (optional) 1 Cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, melt the butter and trufåe oil together in a medium saucepan, then stir in the åour to make a roux. Stir and cook for 1 minute or so, then swap to a balloon whisk and gradually add the milk, ensuring the sauce is smooth after each addition. Grate in the mature Cheddar and add ½ the trufåe Cheddar, stirring gently until completely melted. Season and set aside. 2 Preheat the grill to high. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir well, then divide between 10 ovenproof ramekins or small baking dishes. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining trufåe Cheddar over the top of each one. Grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, as they will be piping hot. Sprinkle with the chives before serving, if liked. Martha’s tip To make in advance, cover and chill for up to 2 days after you put the pasta in the ramekins (step 2). To reheat, top with the cheeses and bake at 180ºC, gas mark 4 for 10 minutes, then änish under the grill. V Per pot 1260kJ/302kcals/17g fat/ 8.9g saturated fat/22g carbs/3g sugars/ 0.9g äbre/14g protein/0.4g salt Tru e mac & cheese pots Take macaroni cheese to the next level. I’m using double tru e here – both tru e oil and tru e Cheddar, but you can use one or the other if you’d prefer a more subtle flavour The beauty of a good canapé is that you get the joy of a full meal in a single mouthful, encompassing all the best bits and leaving behind any bland ingredients that serve only as filler. Canapés are perfect for warming up the stomach before the main meal, but often the parties I host are more casual a airs – and dainty canapés can create the unhelpful expectation that there’s more food to follow. Enter the substantial canapé – satisfying snacks to tantalise your guests and fill them up at the same time. No need for that basket of bread or mountain of crackers to satiate hungry appetites – these are essentially a three-course meal in dinky portions. They are also some of my favourite dishes in miniature form, a smörgåsbord I love a festive drinks gathering as much as the next person, but what I don’t like is dainty little nibbles that leave you so hungry you have to make toast when you come home. So this week, Martha’s come up with some great ideas for snacks that your guests can eat while standing and mingling – assuming no further Covid restrictions are imposed – and that won’t send them home starving. And if you want an easy, friendly way to bring proceedings to an end at a civilised time, I can recommend serving her lemon posset pots as a mini dessert with coffee. It’s the nicest way I know to say: “It’s been lovely seeing you, but now I’d like to put my feet up!” ALISON OAKERVEE Partner & food and drink editor Beef & Tender shredded change from a but you can also slice Makes 12 Prepare 10 minutes Cook 40 minutes 380g pack slow cooked beef brisket 1 tbsp olive oil 2 onions, änely sliced 100ml stout or dark beer 1 tbsp dark brown soft sugar 12 rustique wholemeal rolls (from the bakery counter), halved About 2 tbsp Dijon mustard 3 slices Gouda, quartered 50g cocktail gherkins, sliced