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Welcome to May’s Observer Food Monthly

t seems like forever since someone handed me a menu. (And when they do, the urge to hug them will be irresistible.) I cannot wait to fill that big restaurant-sized hole in my life. Those places that have survived are still wondering what the future holds for them and with tomorrow’s full opening of indoor restaurants we talk with Nisha Katona of Mowgli, Tom Kerridge – who is busy opening a fish and chip restaurant in Harrods – and the Baileys of Manchester’s Grub about their hopes (and perhaps their fears) for the months ahead.

It has been a chilly spring, and I rather wish I had some of Fuchsia Dunlop’s secret ingredient to hand. Her much-used Sichuan chilli bean paste, made from broad beans and chillies, salt and wheat flour, sounds surprisingly versatile and as she says, it is not “wildly spicy” but has a “belly-warming chilli flavour”. It is already on my shopping list in case May refuses to warm up.

During lockdown, social media has been buzzing and none more so than TikTok. Its fast-moving pace and the short attention span of its followers might seem to work against it but its rise seems unstoppable.

And while Gordon Ramsay has 22 million followers the real success is the platform’s ability to give anyone a chance to become the next big name. We talk to some of TikTok’s rising stars.

We have recipes for you, of course: a celebration of spring from me with wild garlic hollandaise for asparagus, and broad beans with new potatoes, ham and rocket, plus some wonderful recipes from Vietnam – including a fabulous pork noodle soup – from Uyen Luu, while Ferdinand Montoya brings us dishes from the Philippines.

The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades shares his life on a plate while Jay Rayner has been busy loading his freezer with healing home cooking in readiness for his return from hospital. We wish him well.

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