"A CHINESE meal with a twist" is Willi Elsener's description of the latest Chef Eats Out lunch on offer to readers. The setting of the event, on Wednesday 22 July, is the sumptuous Oriental restaurant in London's Dorchester hotel, recently presented with the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences for "consistently offering exceptional service and exquisite gastronomy".
Elsener (pictured left), executive chef at the hotel for 10 years and winner of the prestigious Caterer & Hotelkeeper Chef Award in 1996, has agreed to host the lunch, in association with Chef and Zanussi Professional, for a maximum of 50 Chef readers at a cost of just £40 per head.
Canapés, dim sum and a varied selection of Cantonese dishes will be prepared by Elsener and his brigade, including the head chef of the Oriental, Kenneth Poon.
With cooking described by the 1998 AA Best Restaurant guide as first-class, the Oriental is the only Chinese restaurant in the country to hold a Michelin star. Time Out Drinking and Eating in London described it as one of the few restaurants in Europe to have the formidable kitchen resources to produce classic Chinese cuisine with "lavish presentation, exquisite attention to detail, and a symphony of well-matched flavours and textures".
On arrival, guests will be taken for a tour of the Dorchester and, following the lunch, Elsener will talk to guests about his role as executive chef in one of the capital's most diverse food and beverage operations, and will then take part in a question-and-answer session (see application form). A tour of the hotel's seven kitchens, which are equivalent in size to six tennis courts, will follow.
Elsener and his 125-strong brigade can produce as many as 3,000 meals daily. As well as the Oriental, the hotel's other F&B outlets include the 81-cover Grill Room, offering traditional British food; the Dorchester Bar, serving Italian cuisine; the Dorchester Club, with its Mediterranean-inspired menu; the 84-cover Promenade, famous for light snacks and afternoon teas; and Chester's restaurant, catering for as many as 600 staff.
Guests staying in one of the hotel's 255 bedrooms can order from an extensive 24-hour room service menu which includes Middle Eastern, Moroccan and Malaysian specialities, as well as dishes from elsewhere around the world. Banqueting, in seven different rooms, can account for around one-third of the covers served daily.
Lunch guests will also have the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of Elsener's book, A World of Flavours: Recipes from the Voyages of a Master Chef, for £7.50. The book is normally on sale for £14.99. Readers not able to attend the lunch can also purchase the book at the specially reduced price by ordering it directly from Pavilion, London House, Great Eastern Wharf, Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NQ, tel: 0171-350 1230.
Previous hosts of the Chef Eats Out lunches have been Gordon Ramsay, Paul Heathcote, John Burton-Race and Raymond Blanc. All events have been over-subscribed, and readers interested in the lunch at the Oriental are advised to complete and send in the accompanying reservation form, together with a cheque for £40 made payable to the Dorchester hotel, by 10 July. n