With the BITE Sussex Spring food and drink festival launching next month, Nick Mosley talks to chefs Maria Chilton and Jimmy Gray of Angelica Food about their culinary odyssey to Asia and how it’s influenced their pop-up dining event on Monday, April 4

The past six months have been busy for Maria Chilton and Jimmy Gray with their new private cheffing and catering business Angelica Food. After many years heading the kitchen at Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill, they have set up their own business and have rapidly created a following in their own right.

Although they have already had numerous successes with private dinners, parties and weddings, the pair are keen to showcase the breadth of their culinary offering to an wider audience and will be hosting their first Angelica Food pop-up night at Meanwhile Café in Jubilee Street, Brighton, as part of the BITE Sussex food and drink festival, inspired by a year of travels in South East Asia and Australasia.

“A couple of years back, we took time out to broaden our knowledge of both traditional and modern Asian cuisine,” said Maria. “We really wanted to get under the skin of the myriad of flavours and ingredients that are integral parts of the kitchens of Thailand and Vietnam while also seeing how chefs in Australia have created their unique twists.

“We spent a lot of time enjoying the authenticity of street food – literally sold from tiny roadside kitchen carts by locals who cook the same dishes day in, day out – but also had the pleasure of dining at Gaggan in Bangkok, ranked number one in the Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants guide.”

For their “Journey through South East Asia” pop-up, Maria and Jimmy have created meat-based and vegetarian menus that are packed with the spices, seasonings and core ingredients that excited them during their travels.

The Argus: Maria Chilton and Jimmy GreyMaria Chilton and Jimmy Grey

Diners will begin their taste journey in My Brighton hotel’s Merkaba with canapés and an Asian-themed cocktail created by local craft gin maker Damian Best from Dedbest Distillery near Lewes.

“For vegetarians our welcome snack will be romanesco cauliflower with wild garlic mayonnaise, whilst guests opting for the regular menu will be served up monkfish cheeks,” said Jimmy. “The magic happens with the Cantonese-style ‘tang sui’ sweet marinade. My favourite dish on the menu is undoubtably the spider crab curry. I was inspired by street food vendors in the centre of Hi An in Vietnam – it was so fresh and zingy yet the crab was so sweet.

“For our take on the dish, we’re steaming the crab over lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf before removing all the meat from the crabs and folding into a lightly curried coconut sauce. It’s really special.”

The mains are a choice of longhorn beef brisket with fermented black bean and ginger sauce or alternatively chargrilled celeriac with a similar sauce, green apple, pak choi and chilli slaw. Diners will enjoy a dessert of yuzu and miso curd tart with matcha tea and passionfruit.

“This is our first Angelica Food pop-up in Sussex,” said Maria. “We’re planning more events this year where we can share our passion for food and drink with guests that are keen to explore local produce and International flavours.”

Limited advance tickets are available for £38 from www.bitesussex.com and include welcome drink, canapés and three courses.