The Perfect Drink to Accompany Your Ready, Steady, Chuck! Dish

One of the long-established rules in competitive Ready, Steady, Chuck! permits chefs to use some of their ingredients in an accompanying drink to be served alongside their original creation. It's an option that isn't always chosen, though, and not just because of the risk of unpredictable flavours resulting. A meal that avoids incorporating ingredients in this way will often receive harsh criticism by the Challenge Judges, and be marked down for creativity. However, when chosen well, the accompanying drink has the potential to bring hidden qualities out of the recipe in question and enhance the overall tasting experience.

Twix-infused black tea, as well as adding essential qualities to Unorthodox Onion Fondant Surprise, could be a nice change for the vicar when he next comes round.

On this page we review the drinks the Ready, Steady, Chuck! chefs have chosen or created as the perfect partners to their recipes. We assess how well they matched the dishes they were designed to go alongside, and how they might be enjoyed alone. But these are only suggestions - if you make any of these drinks, or discover a new and wonderful way of presenting them, email us and let us know!

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

The drinks accompanying Ready, Steady, Chuck! recipes don't have to be alcoholic, although obviously there are times when alcohol is of considerable benefit. In 1999 Chef Phil decided that low-sugar lemonade was the perfect match for Guacamole Ginger Cake. "It was the obvious use for the lemonade", he explained. "The cloying sweetness of the aspartame and sucralose was perfect to counteract the chilli and carbon flavours of the burnt cake".

In 2005 Chef Phil developed this low-sugar theme further, creating the ambitious sugar-free appleade tonic spritzer. An alcohol-free cocktail, made from equal parts sugar-free appleade and tonic water, it set new accompanying drink standards in competitive Ready, Steady, Chuck!. This memorable aperitif accompanied his classic creation Cheesy Sponge Pudding. "I remember that one particularly well", Chef Kath commented. "I don't wish to be rude but it's not something I will be ordering at the bar any time soon".

Not a Cuba Libra Diamond White cider is often served in pubs around Britain.

Chef Bruce went one step further with Unorthodox Onion Fondant Surprise nine years later, creating an accompanying drink that was a central component of the overall dish. "Twix-infused black tea was an important addition to that classic recipe", he said. "When soaked in hot tea, the chocolate thickened the tea and the Twix biscuits gained certain unique qualities themselves. The full effect of this, when you dipped the melting biscuits in the onion yoghurt, was genuinely impressive".

Cider

Diamond White cider, served with panache and style in the hollowed-out shell of half a grapefruit, was Chef Andrew's choice as a companion to 1999's Grapefruit Sensation. A large drink with a distinct taste was vital to accompany this substantial and filling dish, rich in carbohydrates, vitamin C, and artificial cheesy flavourings. "There is a very particular challenge factor associated with the combination of cheese & onion crisps and grapefruit", Chef Andrew explained. "It's one we're getting a lot of practice with during the Challenge, but it always demands attention to detail from the chef".

This drink was particularly notable because of the high standard of presentation achieved - a characteristic of Chef Andrew's style that regularly makes an appearance during Ready, Steady, Chuck!'s competitive random cheffery. "The overall look of the accompanying drink was inspired by the Hawaiian classic Mai Tai cocktail", he explained. "However, should you present this version of the cocktail on its own, you should probably call it Ai Mait Not".

Beer

Few Ready, Steady, Chuck! dishes have been accompanied by beer, but one classic that was is Chef Andy's Oriental Mixed Meat Risotto Florentine from 2008. This innovative, uniquely-flavoured dish, which was cooked and served with Brains SA Gold, demanded a strong accompanying drink to wash down its complex combination of meats, meat products, and chemical additives. "The subtle interactions between the different meaty textures, with the spicy richness of Chinese, Indian and cheese & onion flavours demanded a full-bodied classic ale to clear the palate between mouthfuls", its creator explained. "I also believe that drinking the beer during its preparation influenced the design of the dish as I was cooking it."

Booze Celebrity chefs ensure their drinks cabinets are always kept stocked to a basic minimum level

In 2006, Chef Bruce had toyed with Newcastle Brown Ale as an accompaniment to Italo-Irish Shandy Floater Stew but the full effect of this combination remains untested because of the unique qualities of that dish that encouraged its very swift disposal. "In hindsight it was a shame", Chef Bruce reminisced, "But at least the ale served to take peoples' minds off the smell of the dish, if not its taste".

Spirits

Several Ready, Steady, Chuck! dishes have had spirits recommended alongside them, two of the most memorable originating from the fertile mind of Chef Andrew.

In 2005, Martini Spirito was the drink of choice, served alongside Blue Madeira Toast With Ilchester Gratin. "That was a challenging dish to find the best drink to match", Chef Andrew mused. "I think in the end Martini Spirito was the perfect choice, though. It has just the right balance of harshness and acidity that is needed on the palate to release the complexity of blue cheese-infused lemon Madeira cake. Few drinks could achieve the same effect."

Bangor Nipple Tipple Surprise, Chef Andrew's 2006 creation, incorporated Scotch Whisky within its Frosties-porridge base, and was served with a dram when it arrived on the dinner table. "The thinking is the same here", Chef Andrew confirmed. "It's important for the drink to have the ability to help the dish go down and, wherever possible, take the taste away when it does. Or if not, at the very least it should leave a lasting impression".

Red & Tan The "Red & Tan" Red Wine Lager Spritzer perfectly counterbalances the strong flavours of Nearly Parma Ham Fish Parcels With Crushed Crisp Garnish

Wine

A glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc proved the perfect accompaniment to Bacon, Avocado and Ginger Thing, Chef Andy's Challenge-winning recipe from 1999. "Actually, that was a very good combination", he explained with a look of surprise on his face. "Nobody was more amazed than me by the fact that it went down so well - both the wine and the dish, that is. In the years since then we have learned just how unusual it is to find a Ready, Steady, Chuck! meal that is even edible, let alone one that's quite nice."

Grapefruit and Cheese Toastie, on the other hand, demanded strong alcohol to cut through the cloying melted cheese and cold citrus sharpness of this palate-challenging plateful. In 2005, Chef Bruce ensured that strong Californian Red Wine was consumed regularly throughout the preparation stages, both as a chef's aid to concentration and to strengthen the stomach in anticipation of the impending flavour onslaught. "It was essential that strong wine was close at hand for everyone tasting that dish", Chef Bruce explained. "Health and safety is, after all, one of Ready, Steady, Chuck!'s top priorities".

Red wine was also a significant part of Chef Andrew's 2008 classic Rockstar. This time, Australian Shiraz Cabernet was the choice, and once again it was consumed throughout the preparation stages of the dish. "Of course, I had great confidence in Rockstar", Chef Andrew explained, "But I always believed the wine would be the best bit. By the way, did I tell you it wasn't fair, and that I really should have won that year?"

Cocktails

One true cocktail, where different alcoholic ingredients were brought together to make a new and original combination, began as the accompanying drink of a Ready, Steady, Chuck! dish. It's a true party classic from 2009, created to celebrate the launch of Ready, Steady, Chuck!'s web site. Chef Bruce's Red Wine Lager Spritzer, the perfect partner to Nearly Parma Ham Fish Parcels With Crushed Crisp Garnish, has received such popular acclaim it is now known to the world simply as Red & Tan. "It's a true modern classic", Chef Bruce explained. "The unique chemical properties of classic French lager combined with great Aussie wine is something really special. Not only does it taste completely different to anything else, it has an incredible bouquet that brings to the mind hints of blackberries, summer fruits, golden hops and burning car tyres".