P&I Side Salads celebrated the start of the Norfolk asparagus season with live cooking demos and tasters at New Covent Garden Market on 10 April.
Prominent Polish chef Grzegorz Olejarka showcased a host of unusual asparagus creations using produce sold under J W Allen & Sons’ Portwood brand.
Inventive recipes included an asparagus espresso, chocolate macaroons filled with asparagus purée and a seasoned raw Asparagus salad sample cone.
The asparagus, grown near Attleborough in Norfolk, hit the market floor earlier than normal this year, on 30 March, thanks to good growing conditions with a warm March.
P&I salesman Simon Collier-Ward said: “It is our duty to educate our customer in promoting to chefs the new season for English asparagus. Demand is now in full flow with sales over double what they were at this time last year.”
He added: “At Side Salads we hope that raising the profile of Portwood Asparagus will help the brand grower bigger, as year on year the sales have increased without much marketing being done from a wholesaler’s perspective.”
Collier-Ward also praised grower J W Allen & Sons for “their attention to detail on the grading of the product”, which he believes “helps the asparagus sell itself”.
“Other brands are often asked for by name as they have been about for years,” he said, “but put them side by side with Portwood and there is no comparison in taste.”