Due to popular demand, Caterer has revived its Chef Eats Out series of lunches after an absence of nearly three years. And where better to pick up than at the Ledbury, one of the most talked-about restaurants in London. Kerstin Kühn joined Caterer readers.
If there is one chef in London who has had a cracking start to 2010, it's Brett Graham. The Aussie chef made headlines in January when his restaurant, the Ledbury, was promoted to the elusive band of two Michelin stars. While this in itself is a remarkable feat - the Ledbury is now one of only 14 restaurants in Great Britain and Ireland to hold the accolade - Graham also saw his other business, the Harwood Arms - a joint venture with chef Mike Robinson and publican Edwin Vaux - become the first Michelin-starred pub in London.
So it's no surprise that the 30-year-old has been one of the most talked-about chefs in the capital in recent months, with food lovers, journalists and chefs alike queuing up to taste his modern French cooking at the Ledbury, where he dons the whites. And to celebrate his success, Caterer teamed up with Graham to host a rare, private lunch for our readers last week, as we reintroduced our Chef Eats Out series after a break of three years.
Located in a residential pocket of leafy Notting Hill in west London, the Ledbury welcomed the 30 Chef Eats Out attendees on a glorious spring day. The sunshine was digested on the terrace over Champagne and a selection of sophisticated canapés served by Graham and his skilled front-of-house team, led by restaurant manager Steven Quinn. Among the nibbles were sea buckthorn, carrot and foie gras macaroons; flame-grilled mackerel with shiso; and wild boar kromeski. Not a bad start to the day.
The rest of the meal continued in a similar vein. Graham had devised a six-course menu full of seasonal delights, technical adroitness and contemporary twists for his audience of chefs and industry professionals. The first course was ceviche of hand-dived scallops with seaweed and herb oil, kohlrabi and frozen horseradish - a delicate, refreshing dish faultlessly paired with a German Riesling. It reminded some of the diners on our table of fellow two-Michelin-starred chef Rene Redzepi's signature dish of razor clam and parsley with horseradish snow - but it was much more subtle on the flavours.
Next up was a dish Graham says he reinvents every year: salad of spring vegetables with Parmesan, walnut oil and a warm pheasant egg. With pheasant eggs being available for little more than a month from April to May, the light, colourful salad was a timely nod to the seasons and a real celebration of the long-awaited arrival of spring.
Cornish cod with grilled leeks, hand-rolled macaroni and truffle purée impressed the diners with its subtle delicacy of flavours, while the main course of shoulder of Pyrenean milk-fed lamb, cooked for 24 hours in a water bath, with artichokes, fresh cow's milk curd, wild garlic and dried olives packed a real punch. The latter was paired with a Bouquet des Garrigues which beautifully balanced the earthiness lent to the dish by the artichokes.
Sauternes custard with passion fruit was a refreshing pre-dessert palette cleanser. But it was the pavé of chocolate with chicory and pumpkin seed ice-cream that was the highlight of the puddings, paired with a Spanish Pedro Ximenez, a dark, rich, intensely sweet dessert sherry, which was a real hit among the diners.
Following lunch, guests were treated to a tour of the kitchen under the guidance of Graham, before one lucky diner's name was picked out of a hat for a free lunch and a day's stage in the Ledbury kitchen.
After an absence of nearly three years, Caterer‘s Chef Eats Out has made a comeback. And where better to revive the event than at one of the capital's most talked about restaurants, the Ledbury.
For images of the event, visit Chef Eats Out at The Ledbury on Table Talk
â- Salad of spring vegetables with walnut oil, Parmesan and pheasant's egg
â- Cornish cod with grilled leeks, hand-rolled macaroni and truffle purée
â- Shoulder of Pyrenean milk-fed lamb, cooked for 24 hours, with artichokes, fresh cow's milk curd, wild garlic and dried olives
â- Sauternes custard with passion fruit
â- Pavé of chocolate with chicory and pumpkin seed ice-cream
â- 2007 Riesling QmP, Sybille Kuntz, Mosel, Germany
â- 2007 A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines, Coastal Region, South Africa
â- 2007 Moulin-Á -Vent, Reserve Raclet, Domaine de la Pierre, Burgundy, France
â- 2007 Côtes du Rhône, Bouquet des Garrigues, Le Clos du Caillou, Rhône Valley, France
â- Pedro Ximenez, Cardinel Cisneros, Sanchez Romate, Jerez, Spain
PAVÉ OF CHOCOLATE WITH CHICORY & PUMPKIN SEED ICE-CREAM
CHICORY & PUMPKIN SEED ICE-CREAM
- 1 litre milk (whole)
- 1 litre double cream
- 100g sugar
- 40g powdered chicory
- 480g egg yolks
- 200g caster sugar
- 70g caramelised pumpkin seeds (Boil 100g sugar to a mid-amber caramel, stir in the seeds, remove from heat, and chop when cold)
Place the milk, cream, 100g sugar and chicory into a pot and bring to the boil. While they're heating whisk the yolks and sugar to a light white sabayon.
Pour a little milk/cream over the sabayon, then pour the sabayon mix onto the cream/milk mix. Heat to 84ËC, then process in an ice-cream machine and add the chopped caramelised pumpkin seeds.
- 200g caster sugar
- 250g ground almonds
- 150g plain flour
- 80g cocoa
- 125g melted butter
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour over the melted butter, and give it a good mix. Place onto a tray and bake at 165ËC for 15-20 minutes.
Check every 5 minutes to turn and mix to form cookie crumb texture.
- 700g 67% dark chocolate (chopped small)
- 435g double cream
- 262g milk (whole)
- 300g whole eggs
Heat up the cream and milk. Melt the chocolate slightly over a bain marie. Pour the cream/milk over the chocolate until it emulsifies, then beat in the eggs. Place in a lined mould and cook at 84ËC for 35-40 minutes.
When the pavé is cooked it should look slightly set. Remove from the oven and let it cool naturally. Do not put in fridge.
Serve a square of the pavé with the cookie crumbs and a scoop of the ice-cream.