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Anthony Demetre and Will Smith masterclass – 2008 Chef Conference

21 May 2008 by
Anthony Demetre and Will Smith masterclass – 2008 Chef Conference

One of the most exciting stories of the past two years on the London foodie scene has been the phenomenal success of Anthony Demetre and Will Smith's burgeoning restaurant empire. The proprietors of Arbutus and Wild Honey have proved that you don't have to run fine-dining restaurants to net Michelin stars - just put out superb, competitively priced food and wine in a buzzy, brasserie dining room.

Taking to the stage at the conference, the duo talked about their business philosophy while Demetre prepared two of Arbutus's signature dishes - paired, by Smith, with a series of wines from the restaurant's list.

"We've become synonymous with forgotten, cheap, underused cuts," Demetre said, as he boned out a rabbit ready to create a dish using the saddle (stuffed), accompanied by shoulder and leg in a cottage pie. Not one bit of the rabbit was wasted: offal went into the saddle stuffing, while bones, brain and other scraps went to help make a sauce. Demetre revealed that he monitors waste very closely at the restaurants. "Each chef has a waste container on his station and we check them continually," he said. "Wastage loses you money."

Matched with the rabbit were three wines at various prices, all available at Arbutus as carafes, as well as by the bottle. An Italian Riesling-Trollinger hybrid (Kerner, Abbazia di Novacella, Sudtirol, Alto Adige, 2006: carafe £12.50) - "hints of elderflower, good structure and complexity," explained Smith a Grenache and Syrah blend from Pic Saint Loup (Domaine de l'Hortus Classique, Languedoc 2006, carafe £8.25) - "blackberry and pepper, bit of sour cherry" and a delicate Pinot Noir from Burgundy (Santenay 1er Cru, "Le Gravieres" Vincent Girardin, 2005: carafe £18.25).

Demetre's second dish, a squid and mackerel burger, used both a foraged ingredient (sea purslane) as a garnish and shellfish (razor clams) that cropped up during the conference on more than one occasion (in Nathan Outlaw's masterclass, in a lunch dish and as part of René Redzepi's dish at the gala dinner). Smith's wine matches were clever and interesting, all with a good story about the producer. They included a German Riesling and a Galician wine from Spain and, more unusually, an elegant, dry rosé from Greece (Aghiorgitiko, Semeli Rose, VDP de Corinth, 2006).

Fittingly, the duo's first book (due out later this year) will be called Today's Special and a Glass of Wine. "It's what we're about - our ethos is that you can roll up have something to eat, a glass of wine and then bugger off - all for about £20," Demetre grinned.

www.arbutusrestaurant.co.uk

Anthony Demetre's Squid and mackerel burger, sea purslane and parsley juice

Ingredients (serves four)

100g razor clam meat
1 glass white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, picked
Sea purslane
Salt and pepper
2 medium whole mackerel, filleted
200g squid (frozen to tenderise, and defrosted)
1tbs chopped coriander
1tbs grated ginger
1tbs chopped garlic
1tsp lime zest
Olive oil

Method
Cook the razor clams in their shells with a glass of white wine until they just open. Reserve.

For the juice, blanch the picked parsley and a handful of sea purslane and liquidise with a little of the razor clam cooking juice. Season if necessary. Set aside.

Finely chop the mackerel and squid, add all the remaining ingredients (except sea purslane, razor clams and flat-leaf parsley). Mould in to four burgers (you can use clingfilm to hold the shape).

Leave to set in the fridge for about two hours. Remove from clingfilm and pan-fry in olive oil. Garnish with the cooked razor clams and sea purslane and serve.

Cook the razor clams in their shells with a glass of white wine until they just open. Reserve.

For the juice, blanch the picked parsley and a handful of sea purslane and liquidise with a little of the razor clam cooking juice. Season if necessary. Set aside.

Finely chop the mackerel and squid, add all the remaining ingredients (except sea purslane, razor clams and flat-leaf parsley). Mould in to four burgers (you can use clingfilm to hold the shape).

Leave to set in the fridge for about two hours. Remove from clingfilm and pan-fry in olive oil. Garnish with the cooked razor clams and sea purslane and serve.

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