Alan Partridge famously dismantled his Corby trouser press, the ruddy idiot! George Egg uses his to cook with, and in his upcoming Fringe show Anarchist Cook, he’ll show you how, rustling up a three-course meal using nothing but the contents of a regular hotel room. After two decades on the comedy circuit, it’s a weird one to make a Fringe debut with. So we demanded to know the obvious – how, why, etc. and so on and so forth…
Why has it taken you twenty years to get round to the Fringe?
I never felt I had an hour that was interesting enough. Until now. I’ve been performing stand-up on the circuit for a long time but even so for twenty to thirty minutes it can be difficult to keep people properly engaged. An hour is a hell of a long time. But the themes of this show I’m genuinely passionate about: cooking, being creative, anarchic and inventive, and I really want to show people what I’ve come up with because I know that it’s an hour they won’t forget in a hurry.
How does one get started cooking in hotel rooms?
One gets started cooking in an Ibis or a Holiday Inn Express by having a ‘can do’ attitude! By remembering that you’re the boss. By remembering that nobody can tell you what to do. But I suppose the first step is making a Pot Noodle and then take it from there one step at a time. Perhaps boil a couple of Hertas in the kettle next. Don’t rush.
What’s wrong with room service?
What’s right with room service more like. It’s overpriced, grossly (£9.95 for a cheese and pickle sandwich in one supposedly mid-priced hotel chain). It’s also extremely poor quality. But most importantly, where’s the fun in having someone bring a flabby microwaved lasagne to your room when you could be rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in while simultaneously enjoying the legal high from the adrenaline that your body is generating as you excitedly de-beard mussels in the wash basin, worrying that any second now the door could be kicked in SWAT-style by the Novotel management screaming ‘what the hell do you think you’re doing?! Get down on the floor!!!’?
What’s your hotel room speciality?
Moules Marinière. Yes, I really have done that in a hotel room. Successfully.
Ever had any complaints from the hotel?
Absolutely not. This is about being an anarchist and an innovator. It’s about stealth and cunning. It’s not about being a vandal. I’ve been well brought up and I’ll leave the room just as I find it.
Who is your culinary role model? Do you think any celeb chefs could cut it cooking in a hotel room? I’m thinking Keith Floyd probably tried it back in the day…
I think anyone who’s really worked in a kitchen has to be hard-working, creative and absurdly dedicated, so I reckon you could stick pretty much any decent chef in a Best Western or a Premier Inn with a random bag of ingredients and they’d come up with something tasty. I tell you who my role model is though. Gennaro Contaldo. He’s so obviously consumed by his passion for food and cooking and though he’s not a comedian he’s one of the most utterly watchable natural clowns.
Does your Edinburgh landlord/hotelier know you get up to this kind of thing?
Well, I’m staying in a flat with three other comedians and a nice big range cooker in it, so I’ll be using that in my ‘digs’. But should I get twitchy or feel withdrawal symptoms then I suppose I could always wait until I’m hungry before driving out of town to spend a night in a motorway Travelodge mid-festival, just to get a ‘fix’.