By various chefs
Bespoke Hotels, £24.95
I’m unsure about the tagline for Take 3, a new book showcasing the culinary skills of 13 chefs who currently work across the Bespoke Hotels portfolio that now numbers more than 200 properties worldwide.
While it is heralded as providing “the recipe for a perfect dinner party”, I think only the most adventurous domestic cook is likely to replicate any one of the three-course meals featured throughout in their entirety.
Domestic entertaining has moved on a long way from the formal dinner parties of the 1970s; now it is more likely to involve hearty food, served on central platters and dishes in a family-style setting. The recipes produced here are largely restaurant in style and will therefore serve as greater inspiration to the professional chef than the home cook.
That said, Bespoke Hotels has obviously seen the commercial value of producing a compilation of recipes from some of its most renowned establishments, such as the Chester Grosvenor in Chester; Cotswold House hotel in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire; and the Lugger in Portloe, Cornwall.
Guests are likely to buy a copy as a memento of their stay, turning the transaction into a wonderful marketing tool for the business.
There are many featured recipes that I would choose to eat if I was visiting a Bespoke hotel, from diver scallop with aged ham, smoked eel, sea buckthorn and hazelnut cream by Simon Radley of the Chester Grosvenor to lamb rump with salsa verde and Parmesan custard by Matthew Taylor at Hotel Gotham in Manchester.
However, if I was cooking from the book I would try one of the simpler recipes, such as Martin Blunos’s roast leg of suckling pig, the perfect Sunday lunch dish, which would be enthusiastically devoured by my family. I first tasted the distinctive food of Blunos, who is currently a consultant chef for Bespoke Hotels, some 20 years ago, when he was based at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Lettonie in Bristol.
I am thrilled to see the recipe for his renowned dessert of boiled egg and soldiers included within the book. It is a dish that has gone on to be copied extensively – but rarely bettered – and is one restaurant-style recipe featured here that I would love to try out myself.
If you like this, you may enjoy these:
• The Really Quite Good British Cookbook by William Sitwell
• MasterChef: the Masters at Home by various chefs
• Nigel Howarth’s Obsession by various chefs