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Interview: Chef Todd Henderson's menu for the Queen Mary's ScotsFestival

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Chef Todd Henderson, Executive Chef of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, spoke today about his menu and interests for the ScotsFestival that will be held February 15 and 16, 2014. “We are doing the haggis”, Chef Todd said. “We will be setting up a concession booth outside and doing some traditional Scottish foods. We'll do the haggis and we'll do a Pork Cornish Pasty. It's a cold pork pie in pastry dough. We'll do bangers and mash with the onion gravy. We'll be doing a little Cranachan, which is a traditional Scottish dessert, basically whiskey-flavored whipped cream with some oatmeal and fresh berries; almost like a parfait”. Besides the Scottish items to go along with the ScotsFestival theme, the Queen Mary will be serving fish and chips, another popular treat from the British Isles.

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The haggis is probably the most well known of the traditional Scottish dishes. “I actually use a Scottish importer out of Oregon that will procure the haggis for me. The hard thing is that if you try to make the haggis here, it's hard to get ahold of the sheep's stomach which is traditionally what the haggis is put into to cook. Mostly what you do here is just get something like a sausage casing. By getting it from the Scottish importer you get the full effect, coming in the sheep's stomach and it looks much more authentic. We'll do a couple of Addresses to the Haggis, so it's good that when you do the Address to a Haggis it looks real”. The actual Address to the Haggis uses words from Scottish poet Robert Burns. It starts,

“Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!

Aboon them a' yet tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye wordy o'a grace

As lang's my arm.”

The poem is read to the haggis, extolling the culinary and traditional virtues of the most Scottish of foods. It is an important part of the Highland Games, bringing to life one of the most hallowed of Scottish traditions.

Chef Todd is excited about participating in the 21st ScotsFestival at the Queen Mary. “I'm Scottish myself, I have Scottish heritage in my blood, so it's fun to reconnect with that side of my heritage. It's a fun event with the bagpipers and everything. To see the sheepherding and the Highland Games where they throw the cabers and the iron balls around, it's a fun event”. “I'm looking forward to see those working sheepdogs, it's pretty amazing”, Chef Todd remarked. “It looks like they are stalking the sheep, but they work in teams of three and they keep the sheep where they need to be”.

The Queen Mary's ScotsFestival will be on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16 at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Besides the traditional foods that Chef Todd Henderson will feature at the event, there will be bagpipe playing, Highland Games, which are the traditional sporting events that may even pre-date The Olympics, sheep herding competitions, darts, Highland Dancing, a concert of Scottish and Celtic music and much more. Beer and Scottish whiskey tasting will be available for those who want to enjoy them, for an additional charge. Many of Scotland's Clans will have booths depicting their proud heritage and items for sale such as kilts and tartans. The clans will be among the participants in the Grand Parade which will take place on Saturday and sunday at 12 noon. It promises to be a fun weekend for the entire family.

The 21st Annual ScotsFestival

The Queen Mary

1126 Queens Highway

Long Beach, CA 90802

Tel info: (877) 342-0742

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