Bombs, Bullets and Brussels Sprouts
Marco Pierre White dishes up Xmas feast for Afghan heroes
Marco saluted Britain's bravest by dodging bomb blasts and enemy gunfire to cook a slap-up Christmas feast for the troops in Afghanistan. The fiery Hell's Kitchen star joined the News of the World in a daring Yuletide mission as we flew out FIFTEEN CRATES of traditional British grub to our men and women serving on the frontline. And instead of dicing the carrots, TV Marco found himself dicing with danger within hours of arriving in Afghan capital Kabul. After delivering his precious cargo to the kitchen at Camp Souter - home to more than 200 Brit troops - Marco was settling in to his hotel room when he was rocked by a roadside bomb exploding just 300 yards away, at a spot he'd passed only an hour earlier. Later he had to dive for cover AGAIN as his party came under fire while touring city landmarks. With the grim tally of troops killed in Afghanistan this year now at 100, shaken Marco told us: "It was an incredible experience. To hear the boom of that bomb go off so close and then to hear those gunshots ring out really drives the message home. We are in a warzone and lives are at risk - they're the dangers our soldiers are facing EVERY DAY. "These are young men and women, who will spend Christmas miles away from home, and far from their families and loved ones, in difficult and dangerous conditions.
FAGGED OUT - Marco takes a cig break
"I'm always amazed by their courage and hope that by bringing some of them a small taste of home, I can show that people back in the UK are thinking of them." And the heroes of Camp Souter really deserved their treat. As part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force their risky tasks include ferrying key military figures around the city, and acting as a quick reaction force on just minutes' notice. First of all we arranged for Britain's world-famous department store Selfridges to donate all the food, including six giant 12lb TURKEYS, 250 CHIPOLATAS in bacon, 250 MINCE PIES and 10kg of BRUSSELS SPROUTS for our hungry heroes. Berkshire-based couriers UCS packaged up the lot, and delivered the 15 cases to Heathrow Airport. There British Airways waived the costs to fly the yummy freight on the next leg of its journey to Dubai. After a bit of hassle and persuasion customs officers let us load the crates on to a Safi Airways flight, one of the few commercial airlines flying direct into Kabul.
SO MOVING - Memorial to the fallen in Helmand
And then came the dangerous bit - the vehicle convoy to Camp Souter. Just 24 hours later it's D Day - Dinner Day! Marco - the first British chef to win three Michelin stars - and his assistant Matt Brown powered into action. And, with a bit of chop-chop help from the Sri Lankan kitchen staff, they set about preparing dinner for 50. As he got together starters of potted Morecambe Bay shrimps, brown bread and butter, and mushroom soup 48-year-old Marco said: "One of the great pleasures in being able to cook is that ability to give. To be allowed to cook for the guys and girls here, to be given that invitation, is very special." Next up was the roast organic Norfolk turkey garnished with sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy - "Proper turkey gravy made with giblets," insisted Marco. Alongside that came braised red cabbage, swede puree, sprouts with chestnuts, roast potatoes and parsnips. It was all followed by Christmas pud with Army custard and double cream, vintage Stilton cheese with quince jelly, plus warm mince pies and coffee. And after their marathon three- hour battle with ovens and well- travelled ingredients the Marco kitchen brigade's feast was declared a major victory.