Celebrity spotting ‘on safari’ in city

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Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press

As a travel blogger, I am occasionally invited to London for press launches.

Recently, P&O Cruises asked if I wished attend an exclusive event for the unveiling of a new celebrity team brought together for Britannia, their newest ship due to set sail in 2015.

It sounded exciting and, as it was close to Valentine’s Day, I decided to ask if my husband could also attend so we could make a night of it. They said yes.

Joining other guests on board a big, red, London bus, we were taken from Tower Hill station through the East End of London to Forman’s Fish Island, an impressive conference centre close to the Olympic stadium.

We were handed a glass of fizz on arrival then shown into a series of rooms designed to replicate areas of the ship.

The aroma of sizzling spices drew us into the Cookery Club to see the first of the five celebrity ‘Food Heroes’. Michelin­starred Atul Kochhar had just created a chicken curry and placed it on the tasting table.

Most people respectfully gathered around him, but the dish remained untouched.

So I waded in, took a seat next to Mr Kocchar and forked up a mouthful of curry. Delicious.

Husband, Dougie, took a photo of me with Atul before we moved on.

Having been photographed with one chef, Dougie decided his mission was to snap me with all of them. Rather like being on safari, we would try and spot The Big Five. I began my stalking.

Next up, in The Glass House, was wine expert, Olly Smith. We hovered for some time, eating canapes and quaffing more vino, before I sidled up to him to discuss the Ice Wine we were currently drinking.

We had tasted it before, in Canada, so I regaled him with the story of us forgetting to pack it in our luggage for the flight home and how our case was brought up from the bowels of the airport, revealing all our dirty washing, so we could nestle the bottles inside.

Olly posed for a photo. Two out of five.

Number three was master patissier, Eric ‘Cake Boy’ Lanlard, who happily posed for a photograph after I’d enthused about his cheesecake. Back in the Cookery Club, we watched Marco Pierre White do something interesting with a sea bass before I pounced, chatting to him about The Lifeboat Inn, his pub in Thornham, Norfolk.

He told us he had been painting it that day. Another snap.

Finally I found James Martin, the delectable host of Saturday Kitchen.

More brazen this time, yet rather tongue­tied and flushed, I just asked for a photo and he obliged.

Returning home with a goody bag including a signed apron, some macaroons and a bottle of Prosecco, my husband declared that this blogging lark was a real hoot and could he be my assistant and official photographer? He got the job.