Former Masterchef contestants to host gluten-free pop-up on East Anglian farm

Norfolk writer Samantha Mattocks worked on her debut novel for 10 years

The Delicate Diner Samantha Mattocks will be firing up a feast at Old Hall Farm in Woodton this month - Credit: Richard T Bryant

Former Masterchef contestant Samantha Mattocks (who appeared on the show in 2019, making it through to the second round) is a massive foodie. 

But she knows only too well how our enjoyment of one of life’s most basic pleasures can be ruined by intolerances. She’s allergic to oranges (which give her migraines and cause her throat to close up), and until recent years was gluten and lactose intolerant. 

“I’ve always been a food lover,” says Samantha, who set up her blog The Delicate Diner in 2016. “I love Norfolk and Suffolk produce and I’m a passionate advocate for seasonal food. I founded The Delicate Diner when I was suffering with intolerances which obviously made cooking and eating out a little bit harder. Thankfully mine only lasted a few years, but they can last much longer – I'm so glad I can sit down for breakfast now and have a slice of toast with Marmite! 

“I wanted the blog to give people recipes they could turn to, and good ideas for places they could go to if they had an allergy or intolerance – but also where not to go.” Samantha recalls an eatery saying ‘one crumb won’t hurt’.  

Since Masterchef the keen cook has had lots of opportunities to share her food passion in the region, with pop-ups for Gerald Giles, and, coming up this month, on June 18, her second gluten-free dinner at Old Hall Farm in Woodton with fellow Masterchef contestant Mark Howroyd. 

The event will raise money for the Boudicca Breast Cancer Appeal, which is aiming to raise £800,0000 for a new, dedicated breast cancer care unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

It’s £65 per person, with an optional cheese course (£7), and will be held in Old Hall’s lovely café, overlooking farmland, beginning with canapes and a glass of Old Hall sparkling wine. 

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“The whole menu is naturally gluten-free,” says Samantha. 

“There’ll be a pre-starter, which is a surprise. Then the starter is courgette with ricotta, basil and a pumpkin seed and miso dressing.  

“Our fish course will be white fish (depending on what’s best that week) with a summer vegetable broth and basil brulee, or griddled halloumi with summer vegetables. 

“The main course is crispy Old Hall pork belly on spicy shitake and black bean ragu with pear and yuzu puree – that's one of Mark’s signature dishes. For vegetarians we’re making roasted celeriac with the same garnishes.” 

Guests will enjoy a surprise pre-dessert, and will finish with an Old Hall mess of hazelnut and chocolate meringues with caramel ice cream and summer berries. 

Local wines, beers and gins will be available to buy on the night too. 

“We’re super excited to get back to Old Hall Farm to take over the kitchen again,” says Samantha. “It’s a big honour and raise money to boost the Boudicca Appeal is so important.” 

For tickets email sam@thedelicatediner.com