Would You Like To Make A Dessert To Charm Gandalf Or A Cake To Court Keira?

Meals in the Limelight

Have you ever wanted to impress your friends, family or a loved one with a meal that is fit for the likes of a Sir Ian McKellen or Keira Knightley but not known how? Well thanks to Rickmansworth School pupil Tom Roberts from Hertfordshire, his book “Meals in the Limelight” means that you can now prepare a meal fit for a Hollywood Icon and at the same time give money to charity too. This really could be the meal that keeps on giving!

Tom has put together ‘Meals in the Limelight’, a cookbook that brings together culinary classics and their star-studded variants from 130 celebrities working in film, television and theatre. It includes contributions from such luminaries as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Judi Dench, Damian Lewis, Michael Sheen, Jeremy Irons, Julie Walters, Baz Luhrman and Bill Nighy. Tom has also included with each delicious recipe a personal note from each of the stars with their thoughts on their favourite dish.  As an exclusive treat for MCM Buzz readers, we have Sir Ian McKellen’s recipe for Favourites Pudding at the end of this article. 

But back to the story of how this fantastic project came to be and it may sound like it’s all cocktails and canapés at Rickmansworth School but behind the book is a very determined boy set on a genuinely worthwhile month-long expedition to Borneo with his fellow students. 16 year old Tom Roberts has been collecting the recipes from actors and actresses for over 18 months and was met with great kindness from the celebrities the world over who replied with their dish ideas. Proceeds from the charity cookbook will help to support community project work such as the renovation of homes for poor and underprivileged children as well as English teaching and other activities as part of World Challenge. It’s as much a charity development project as it is the result of a hard working schoolboy with a dream.

MCM Buzz had a chance to ask Tom a few questions whilst he hastily prepared for his GCSE exams.

Tom Roberts

MCM BUZZ: What made you decide to make a cookbook to raise funds for your expedition?

Tom: It all started in October 2009. I was discussing fundraising ideas with my family and my Dad remembered that when he was at school someone he knew made a cookbook of their teacher’s recipes. I thought that was a great idea, but I decided to go to a larger audience and make a cookbook of recipes from well-known actors.

MCM BUZZ: Have other students at Rickmansworth School come up with similarly creative fundraisers?

Tom: A lot of the other ‘challengers’ have got jobs like paper rounds, tennis coaching and website building. Some did fundraisers such as a fire walk and a barbeque at a golf club.

MCM BUZZ: Getting 130 celebrities on board is no mean feat, was it difficult to get in contact with them?

Tom: It did prove to be reasonably difficult to contact the actors, but I did find various roots that worked well. I wrote to the actors via their managers and agents, hoping they’d pass it onto them. 

I also wrote to actors who were working in the theatre in London, because I realised they’d get my letter direct and they might read it whilst they were sitting in their dressing room. Both Damian Lewis and Keira Knightley gave recipes that way – they were working in the West End together, in the same play.  I also met some actors at conventions for sci-fi shows such as Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who. I have a recipe from James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, the biggest bad guy of them all!

MCM BUZZ: Did you have to run a separate fundraiser just to save money for printing the cookbook?

Tom: I ran a fundraiser earlier in the year to raise some funds. I held a race night and had about 100 guests. I showed films of horse races and people would pay to bet on the horses. For one race, I made my own video of a car race (just to stir things up)! The evening got my fund raising off to a flying start. It was helped by the auction and raffle I held that was made possible by the help of local business’ kind contributions. Everybody involved was incredibly generous.

MCM BUZZ: What are some of your favourite recipes in the cookbook?

Tom: Two recipes particularly stand out. John Rhys-Davies gave a recipe as his character Gimli from the Lord of the Rings movies; it’s called ‘Beef on the Bone’ and opens with “Take a full size Ox”! Also Ruth Jones who gave one as her character Nessa Jenkins in Gavin & Stacey, which is called ‘Trucker’s Treat’. So many people gave hilarious responses; even Bill Nighy gave a proper sounding recipe, which was really just beans on toast.

MCM BUZZ: Do you plan on continuing charity work after you complete your school studies?

Tom: Two weeks after my GCSEs are finished I depart for Borneo and almost straight after I return to the UK I get my GCSE results! So after all that is over I will definitely continue volunteering at our local Peace Hospice charity shop. In the future though I may do another huge venture like this one, but this has been such a tiring journey that I think I will leave it a few years!

MCM BUZZ: Will you be sharing the recipes with the people you meet in Borneo?

Tom: I think sharing the recipes would be a great idea! A Malaysian restaurant near to us; “Mangosteen” in Pinner, very kindly showed me some Malaysian dishes that were absolutely delicious. I am sure some of the recipes in my book are so equally.

MCM BUZZ:  Thank you Tom for your time and we look forward to seeing you on celebrity masterchef!

Tom: I haven’t quite booked my place yet on the show. I think going on with Raymond Blanc, who gave me his recipe for Tarte Tatin, would be brilliant. Who knows, maybe sometime soon I will be rung up and asked to go on…watch this space!!

So at 160 pages and with recipes from 130 celebrities, the full colour cookbook is a bargain for £14.99 (inc. P&P) and is available here for worldwide shipping too. The stars themselves will likely be perusing their colleagues recipes in this book. So one can’t help but wonder if strawberry and peanut butter ice cream will become popular on the Starship Enterprise, or if Romulan Ale will makes its way down to Davy Jones’ Locker…

In the meantime, if you would like to get an idea of what you would be having for dessert if you had dinner with Sir Ian McKellen then thanks to Tom we have the exclusive receipe for the aforementioned film greats favourite sweet da jour.  


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