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Daniel Galmiche – A Minute on the Clock

18 December 2009 by

Daniel Galmiche is the new executive chef at The Vineyard at Stockcross in Berkshire, who prepared lunch for the industry's greats at Caterer's Hotelier of the Year event last week. He spoke to Janet Harmer about the lunch and his plans for Christmas.

Caterer How are you settling in at The Vineyard?

Daniel Galmiche I'm very pleased to be here. The Vineyard is a beautiful place; it has a wonderful reputation and taking over the kitchens here is exactly what I needed, having left the Forbury hotel in Reading after it fell into administration. It was a great shame about the Forbury, but the owner - a property developer - took a major hit in the recession. [The Forbury is now owned by Von Essen.]

I've known Andrew McKenzie, the managing director of The Vineyard, for many years. He asked me on two previous occasions to join the hotel, but until now the time wasn't right.

Caterer How will you make your mark at The Vineyard?

DGThe most important thing is to maintain the reputation built up by John Campbell, who was here before me. The hotel has two Michelin stars, four AA rosettes and eight out of 10 in The Good Food Guide, so there is a lot to live up to.

Caterer What did you cook at the Hotelier of the Year event and how did it go?

DGIt was my first big lunch here so there was quite a bit of pressure as it's always important to impress people who have a lot of influence in the trade. The menu was very autumnal - foie gras confit with sauternes, spice bread and apple jelly; turbot with gratin of macaroni; venison with butternut squash purée and juniper-scented jus; and chocolate box with caramel mousse and salted caramel ice-cream.

It was a lot of work as all the dishes were from the à la carte menu and were cooked à la minute. We did 55 covers and nearly all of the 24-strong brigade were in the kitchen at 7.30am to get the mise en place under way. It went fantastically well, we received some lovely comments afterwards and I was extremely proud of my team.

Caterer What are your plans for Christmas?

DGFor the first time since I arrived in England in 1986 I shall be spending Christmas in France - near Vesoul, France-Comté - with my mother, Anne-Marie, who is 75. I'm going with my nine-year-old son Antoine and partner Claire, and my brother and sister will be there too. It will be fabulous.

We'll arrive on Christmas Eve and help my mother cook a big lunch, which we'll sit down for at about 1pm and which will go on until at least 8pm. I expect there'll be oysters, smoked salmon, a capon with shallots, carrots and Brussels sprouts, and a Christmas log with ice-cream. My head chef, Frederic Michel, will be cooking Christmas lunch at The Vineyard and I will be back from France to prepare the New Year's Eve dinner.

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