Last month Claude Bosi invited 60 diners to Bibendum, London, for an event in association with Udale Speciality Foods. Katie Pathiaki reports
Almost a year to the day that Claude Bosi at Bibendum opened in London’s South Kensington to critical acclaim, the chef-patron welcomed 60 fortunate industry workers for a special lunch service. The Chef Eats Out event marked the end of a stellar year for the celebrated chef, who closed his Mayfair-based restaurant Hibiscus in October 2016 before entering a partnership with restaurateur Sir Terence Conran to take over at Bibendum.
The combination of Bosi in the landmark Michelin House building proved irresistible for the former home of the guide, with the chef and his brigade awarded two Michelin stars just six months after opening. His move from Hibiscus in Mayfair was “a very clear statement on intent and has invigorated his character,” Michelin said. “Food is big and bold, which suits his personality.”
And the chefs experiencing Bosi’s refined food were unanimous that the guide got it spot on. But before guests could even sit down they were wowed by the space itself, which was lovingly restored to a restaurant, shop and office space in 1986 when it was bought from Michelin by Sir Terence Conran and the late Lord Paul Hamlyn, before it was revitalised once more for Bosi’s arrival.
With monsieur Bibendum looking on proudly, and exquisite canapés emerging from the semi-open kitchen, a buzz of expectancy and excitement settled over the room.
“I think it’s amazing,” said former Ivy executive chef and Bird of Smithfield chef-owner Alan Bird, who now consults for private clients. “Having been to Bibendum when Matthew Harris was here, you can tell a considerable amount of work has been done overhauling the kitchen, yet the building maintains its original stunning features. It’s a beautiful building that you can’t fail to be impressed by. It must have been a big part of Claude’s decision to move here.”
Welcoming the chefs, Claude explained that it wasn’t the first Chef Eat’s Out event he had hosted. “The last time I hosted a Chef Eats Out was 18 years ago [at Hibiscus in Ludlow] and when I was asked to do it here at Bibendum I felt very privileged.”
Bosi added that the team was excited by the prospect of welcoming fellow industry professionals and explained that the lunch would feature some “beautiful, classic dishes”, paired with drinks supplied by Liberty Wines.
It started in some style with a series of amuse-bouches, including an egg shell containing mushroom duxelles, coconut foam and curry powder; foie gras parfait; and cheese gougères. The snacks were followed by Cornish cock crab with Yorkshire rhubarb and cardamom, which took the form of rhubarb jelly lying on top of white crab meat, under which was a silky slick of brown meat.
The delicate dish was described as a “knock out” by Steven Smith, chef-proprietor of the Freemasons at Wiswell. He said: “This is my first Chef Eats Out event, and I would 100% do it again. The crab – which I’ve had maybe five or six times in the past with different jelly toppings – be it apple, strawberry, elderflower – was superb.”
The second course, line-caught Corsican bass “à la Grenobloise”, was a favourite for the Tack Room in Cambridge’s owner Anne-Marie Wooley. She said: “The dish was very tender. Obviously the fish was perfectly cooked, but what I really enjoyed was the variety of texture provided by the dehydrated capers and lemon.”
Chef Kiren Puri, who usually lives a vegan lifestyle but put that on hold to experience Bosi’s cooking, particularly enjoyed the veal sweetbread with seaweed butter, monk’s beard and confit Italian lemon. He enthused: “The sweetbreads were a masterclass in how they should be cooked. They were perfectly caramelised and crispy on the outside, and if I could cook them half as well as that I’d die a happy man – and I’m a vegan! Just not for Claude Bosi.”
But the undoubted star of the show for the room was Bosi’s mum’s tripe and cuttlefish gratin with pig’s ear and ham cake. The Udale-sourced tripe and cuttlefish stew was served family-style in Staub cast iron pans accompanied by thick slabs of the pig’s ear and ham cake to mop up the rich peppery sauce.
Bird said that he and dining companion Jose Graziosi, the head chef at Hotel Endsleigh in Devon, were both “taken aback by the tripe and cuttlefish gratin”. “That was something else,” he added. “Amazing. I think Claude chose to serve the dish as it’s a real foodie’s and chef’s dish. It’s the kind of thing that if AA Gill were alive he’d have been in ecstasy about. The brilliance in it was its simplicity, yet it was delicious. With tripe it’s how you treat it; it needs some careful preparation and hard work. This was exceptional.”
Hayden Groves (below) was inspired by the dish, thinking of other ways he could enjoy it: “It all comes down to what is delicious on the palate. His mum’s cuttlefish stew was absolutely delicious, I’d love to have it with tagliatelle running through it. The whole table loved it. I’ve enjoyed the day; it’s a pleasure to catch up with like-minded colleagues I haven’t seen in a while and chew the fat, talk about the industry and everything else in between.”
The meal concluded with a luxurious cep Vacherin with banana and crème fraîche. Andrew Nutter, owner of Nutters restaurant in Rochdale, described it as a “taste sensation”. He said: “It was the creaminess of the innards and subtlety yet substance of the cep mushrooms that came together to create perfection. It was really well done.”
At the Michelin Guide 2018’s live UK launch event in October, the guide’s managing director Michael Ellis said that Bosi’s food was the best inspectors experienced all year, a sentiment echoed by The Caterer readers as they left the restaurant. John Hooker from the Cornish Arms in Tavistock summed it up when he said: “It’s a beautiful restaurant with amazing food. Bosi uses humble ingredients cooked really well. I’m blown away.”
A message from our sponsor
It was fantastic to experience Claude Bosi’s sumptuous cooking in the splendid setting of Bibendum. The dishes he and his talented team produce are not only beautiful and technically perfect, but the flavours created are absolutely sublime. It’s no wonder that the restaurant was lauded by Michelin so soon after opening.
We are delighted to join forces with The Caterer to sponsor Chef Eats Out, as it gives chefs a chance to taste and get an insight into the cooking of chefs of the calibre of Claude Bosi.
The tripe and cuttlefish gratin, pig’s ear and ham cake, prepared using Udale products, was an especially inspiring dish and really captured the imagination of the chefs present. Elsewhere on his menu Bosi also uses a range of meat and poultry aged for different periods of time in our Himalayan salt chambers, providing a real point of difference for his exceptional dishes.
• Cornish cock crab, rhubarb and cardamom
• Sea bass “à la Grenobloise”
• Veal sweetbread, seaweed butter, monk’s beard and confit Italian lemon
• My mum’s tripe and cuttlefish gratin, pig’s ear and ham cake
• Cep Vacherin, banana and crème fraîche
• Coffee and petit fours
Claude Bosi would like to thank Liberty Wines, Classic Fine Foods, Txuleta, MSK Ingredients, MW Capture, La Latteria, Henderson Seafood, Oui Chef, True Foods and Udale.