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Andrew Maxwell

In 2015 I lost one of my best friends, who was tragically killed, together with his 7 year old son, Fraser, whilst crossing a road just outside Cardiff. It was widely covered in the press and the sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed that in one of the images used by the BBC, Stuart was wearing his favourite jacket a Diving Matrix jacket. It's never a good thing to lose someone. It's sad when it's a friend, and a diver at that. Stuey loved his food and I remember eating crayfish with him at a restaurant I worked at in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics, so in his memory, the recipe below is for that particular dish! It also happens to be in keeping with the theme of this edition of Tanked Up.

In keeping with my usual writing style, you'll have to stick with me here: I will get to the point eventually: Cast your memories back to the summer of 1997 and just take a moment to try and remember what you were doing then? I remember it vividly. I can still picture

the moment when I walked through the door of Diving Leisure London for the first time. A young, spotty faced, greasy haired teenager, meeting a tattooed dude with a pony tail down to the top of his buttocks and a goatee down to the same distance but on the front side. It was the same week I started cooking professionally, and since then, diving and cooking have been my life.

Most recently, cooking has been the focus, with the opening of our graduate's restaurant at Tante Marie Culinary in Woking. It's a great opportunity for them to put their new skills into practice in a real restaurant environment.

I look back and evaluate the entire journey I've been on over 16 years since I started this game, and realise the importance of those basic skills that I learnt at the very start of my career: basic knife skills, making crème Anglaise, clearing a mask, chopping an onion, making shortcrust pastry, fin pivots, mastering buoyancy. Diving and cooking have been my life since that summer of 1997. I started cooking professionally in the same week I started diving but over the last 24 months, having a family, moving the school and opening our restaurant have meant cooking (which is what funds it all for me) has been a priority.

I realise how much I have missed diving over the last couple of years and I'm not talking about the really advanced stuff... the deep, mixed gas diving I've been fortunate enough to enjoy. I'm talking about the basics the simple things: a 12 litre tank on my back, minimal weights to worry about, an army of friendly crew to kit me up and cook for me, some warm blue water and a few colourful clown fish. I need a dive holiday. It takes me right back to my first ever open water dive, in the summer of '97, certifying instructor: Paul V Toomer OWSI. (Yes, he was an OWSI once!) At Datchet.

Oh, Datchet, how I miss you!

Speaking of Datchet, here's a very British crayfish recipe.

Crayfish Salad with Gooseberry Dressing

  • 400g cooked crayfish meat

For the gooseberry dressing:

  • 50g gooseberries, lightly poached in 4 tablespoons water with 50g sugar dissolved into it
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 150ml vegetable oil

For the salad:

  • 1⁄2 cucumber
  • 1 small bulb of fennel
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1tbsp crushed coriander seeds
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1tbsp mild clear honey e.g. acacia
  • 100ml olive oil
  • seeds of 1⁄2 vanilla pod mixed with 2tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1⁄2 an oakleaf lettuce
  • fresh herbs to garnish

  1. To make the gooseberry dressing: poach the gooseberries in the water/sugar syrup until tender. Place in a blender with the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve.
  2. Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds and slice the cucumber thinly.
  3. Slice the fennel finely and place in a bowl with the cucumber.
  4. Mix together the lime juice, coriander seeds, seasoning, honey and olive oil. Pour this over the cucumber, leave to marinade for an hour.
  5. Slice the crayfish meat and brush lightly with the vanilla oil.
  6. Plate the crayfish, lettuce and cucumber mixture. Drizzle with gooseberry dressing and garnish with herb sprigs.
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