The event brought together chefs from a broad spectrum of establishments and at all levels - from chefs starting out on their careers, to chefs who between them have won several Michelin stars and worked at some of the finest restaurants in the world- James Knappett alone has worked for Rene Redzepi (at noma in copenhagen), Thomas Keller (at per se in New York) and Marcus Wareing (at the Berkeley hotel, Mayfair). Also taking part were the likes of Simon Hulstone (the elephant in torquay), Daniel Clifford (midsummer house in Cambridge) John Campbell and Olly Rouse (Coworth park in Ascot) Elizabeth Allen (masterchef 2011 contestant), as well as matt and his chefs, and many more.
These events are rare, chefs hardly ever open their kitchens to other chefs, and for Matt to allow us in and use his kitchen was fantastic. For me, the opportunity to rub shoulders and share stove space with these guys was highly inspiring. At times it was frustrating and I will be the first to admit that I didn't spend enough time planning my dishes and as a result I felt a bit like the warm up act- adequate, but not hitting the mark, and definitely not the reason people were booked to eat the nine course menus. That said, the feedback I received on the final of the three nights when I was serving the 'lemon' course was amazing. I was confident of each of the elements of my dish- classic lemon tart, lemon curd, lemon marshmallow, lemon mousse, warm muffin and a frothy lemon sorbet- but having spent time in the presence of other, more accomplished chefs, was feeling nervous about presenting the dish, so having the direct contact with the diners was great.
Each chef led the line in turn as we all pitched in and helped plate and present each others dish, and then spoke to the diners to explain the dish, and describe the thinking behind it. As mentioned, it was a nine course menu, and we were all assigned individual ingredients, so the people eating had no idea of what was headed their way other than what the main ingredient was going to be, and which chef created the dish- 'chocolate by John campbell' etc.
During the course of the three days, Matt and his team of Hanna, Richard and Adam as well as the chefs from the other restaurant at south lodge and the conference and banqueting kitchens were great hosts, and they worked so hard to make the visiting chefs welcome and to feel at home.
'crab' - my dish on day one.
All hands on deck, plating James Knappett's dish on day 1
James knappett's 'beef'. Tongue and tendon, grapefruit, celery and salsify
Daniel Clifford, Simon Hulstone and Adam Hartley in action
Daniel's venison dish, day 1
'chocolate' from Ben Goldsmith, day 1
"check on, 23 covers...."
Pre-service, day 1
James's duck hearts, for his 'duck' dish on day 2
Matt's 'artichoke' dish, day 2
James Knappett- 'duck', day 2
Matt Gillan- 'chocolate', day 2
Adam Bateman plating his 'crab' dish, day 2
'crab' day 2
The list of elements from James Knappett's duck dish
"check on, 26 covers...."
Steve Edwards- 'cheese', day 2
Hanna Payne, 'apple', day 2
Hanna Payne, 'pear', day 2
Matt preparing for his chocolate dish
My lemon tart, day 3
John Campbell, 'beef', day 3
Alex Wood, 'beetroot', day 3
Matt Gillan, 'salmon', day 3
Ben Goldsmith, 'pigeon', day 3
Matt Gillan, 'cheese', day 3
Hanna plating her 'pear' dish
John Campbell in action...
...and his finished 'chocolate' dish, day 3
My 'lemon' dish, day 3
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Location:South lodge hotel