Cooking for a King

It’s one of Rock’s less well known stories that I cooked for BB King.The great man was playing at the university union and at the time Leeds Refectory was the biggest music venue in West Yorkshire. We, the ENTS catering team, decided to cook him chicken – a chicken and pineapple stew to be precise. Such a dish would melt his broken bluesman heart with its sweet ‘cajun’ overtones and transport him instantly back home to the Mississippi.

You should know this was pre-internet with no way of checking exactly what ‘cajun’ style entailed without going to the library and reading a book about cuisines of the Southern States. We were students so who could be bothered to do that?

It was very rare that a visiting artist would pop into our kitchen backstage; Mick Hucknall didn’t nor Lemmy or Suggs. Joey Ramone may have wanted to but when I saw him he appeared incapable of standing up, or talking (and that was before his gig), while Shane MacGowan didn’t take his nourishment from solid food. So it was with surprise and delight when the great man himself shuffled into the kitchen demanding to know “whaz the food?”.

Immediately on first initial terms I said, “Well BB, we’ve got chicken. With pineapple”, and lifted the pot lid with a flourish. He was a big man and as he leant forward into a big cloud of steam and inhaled he let out a sigh that could only be interpreted as being part despair/part sorrow. “Ughhh, chicken…” It was the sound of a man fed ‘cajun style’ chicken and fruit based combinations night after night, week after week touring university venues across Britain.
Makes you wonder what he really meant when he sang ‘The Thrill Is Gone’….

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