The first event of 2020 was also the largest in recent years, with 75 chefs gathering to try Tom Kerridge classics at his restaurant in the Corinthia London. James Stagg reports
At the largest Chef Eats Out gathering in recent years, led in association with Udale Speciality Foods, some 75 chefs enjoyed the hospitality and hearty dishes in the luxurious surroundings of Kerridge's Bar & Grill.
They were treated to the newly launched classics menu on offer at the restaurant within the Corinthia London, which features a greatest hits of dishes from across the Tom Kerridge stable.
"We wanted to give people who might not have been able to get to the Hand & Flowers an opportunity to sample these dishes," explained head chef Nick Beardshaw.
"So half are from the Hand & Flowers and half are the Coach. We've not done a multi-course menu in any of the restaurants before, so we wanted it to be within the same style – hearty, but smaller plate versions."
The collection of chefs had the warmest of welcomes, with pints of pale ale from Marlow brewery Rebellion, before sitting down to a six-course menu paired with English wines from suppliers including Davenport and Denbies Estate.
The meal kicked off with a chicken liver parfait tartlet that is also on the menu at the two- Michelin starred Hand & Flowers in Marlow. The perfectly smooth parfait was paired with an orange chutney and poultry jelly, winning universal praise among the chefs present.
"The parfait was superb – I could have eaten everyone's on the table," enthused Newcastle Football Club executive chef Graham Proctor. James Buckley, executive development chef at the O2 for Levy Restaurants, added: "The fresh liver flavour was really intense and the poultry jelly was exceptional. Such a fresh dish."
This was followed by a dish that's fast becoming a Kerridge classic, credited to Claude Bosi and on the à la carte menu – the Coach mushroom risotto. It's risotto in name only, with king oyster mushroom diced to resemble rice and combined with button mushroom purée and sliced button mushrooms, Parmesan and mozzarella.
"The risotto didn't go on until two weeks into the Coach, but now if it's ever taken off we get complaints," said Beardshaw. "It's great on the classics menu as it's not too much, but it's smack you in the face flavour."
The diners agreed, with James Close from the two-Michelin-starred Raby Hunt describing it as the dish he enjoyed the most. "I like how it is a little bit different, not using the rice," he explained. "It packs impressive flavour."
Buckley added: "I love risotto but sometimes it's too much – once you have had a couple of mouthfuls you're bored of it. But that was stunning."
Next up was a salt cod Scotch egg, a Hand & Flowers original that Beardshaw said, "makes guest appearances every now and again". "It's a good dish for using up trim if you have cod loin elsewhere on the menu," he added. "We often collect it and when we have a batch big enough, we add it on, so it makes an appearance in all the restaurants."
He explained that the fish is cured in sugar, white wine, Pernod and saffron before being poached in olive oil and mixed with mashed potato and raw grated garlic. It's served with a quail egg in the middle and perched on top of a red pepper sauce.
"I thought the textures with the quail's egg in the middle, the flavours of the roasted pepper sauce and the chorizo were fantastic," said Eat Drink & Sleep director Jeremy Shaw. "It was a stunningly simple dish with superb flavours."
Then came a dish that really impressed the chefs with its subtlety and depth. Plump St Austell Bay mussels were served in a surprisingly light liquor sauce and an aerated béchamel of cream and Guinness alongside treacle bread.
It was a highlight for many of those present, though the Monmouthshire Pinot Noir from Ancre Estate served with the mussels split the room, coming as it did after two sublime wines – the 2014 Surrey ‘Element 20' Chardonnay Pinot Gris from Litmus that was served with the parfait and 2018 Sussex ‘Limney Horsmonden' Bacchus from Davenport paired with the risotto.
James Challis, sous chef at the Mason Arms in Yeovil, said: "The mussels cooked in the Guinness had a really smooth texture and fantastic depth of flavour. The sweetness of the treacle bread offset the taste really well, too."
Proctor added that the mussels were impressive, though "on its own, the wine was a challenge, but when you drank it with the mussels and stout dish it worked".
Then came the main event, which provided a stunning showcase of Udale Speciality Food's salt-aged beef fillet. The treacle-coated fillets were roasted whole on rotisseries in full view of diners, bringing some mouth-watering theatre to the floor.
"Steak and chips has always been on the menu at the Hand & Flowers and this is our version of that," said Beardshaw. "Here the whole fillet is basted in treacle and placed on the rotisserie. It's then carved and served with a knob of café de Paris butter and a gherkin fritter."
The steak is served with huge triple-cooked chips made from Agria potatoes, a variety that Beardshaw said has the perfect combination of starch, sugar and dry matter for triple-cooking.
"We want a nice floury potato," he said. "They are pressure-cooked, fried at 140ºC and then fried again at 180ºC to finish."
Bobby Brown from the Bank in Chislehurst enjoyed the robustness of the dish: "The chips were massive, while the beef was perfectly cooked and had a great crust."
Meanwhile, Stephen Rogers from Mill House Cottages said it was "absolutely tops". "I thought the way they treacled the outside of the fillet made for a great texture as you bit through it. Watching the fillets being cooked on the spit was really novel as well – both for presentation and in terms of the flavour."
The meal was concluded with a take on banana custard with dates and honeycomb from the Coach. "It's something people come back for," explained Beardshaw. "It's a set custard, more crème brûlée-style, created from cream, egg, banana purée and sugar, cooked in a Thermomix before being poured into a mould."
The custard is served with dried banana slices, pistachios, chopped dates and honeycomb to provide an interesting textural balance. Challis added: "I really liked the banana custard because it did exactly what it promised as far as the textures are concerned. I liked having the dates in there with the crunchy textures of the honeycomb and pistachio. It was a perfect way to finish the meal."
With 75 satisfied chefs, Beardshaw opened his kitchen up for those present to pile in and unpick the elements they were interested in. He concluded: "It's always cool to cook for people in the industry. There were more people in the kitchen than I expected, but that was great. They all showed a great interest –it's a fantastic community, so it was special for us to give something back and engage with everyone."
- Chicken liver parfait tartlet with orange chutney and roasted poultry jelly
- The Coach mushroom ‘risotto'
- Salt cod scotch egg with chorizo and red pepper sauce
- St Austell bay mussels marinière with warm stout
- Treacle-roasted fillet of beef with chips and béarnaise sauce
- Banana custard with dates and honeycomb
Litmus ‘Element 20' Chardonnay Pinot Gris 2014, Surrey This wine from Litmus in Surrey was paired with the chicken liver parfait tartlet. It is fermented in one- to five-year-old French oak barriques to provide a full body. It is complex, elegant and stylish with the acidity to ensure further complexity in years to follow.
Davenport Horsmonden Bacchus 2018, East Sussex The flagship wine from Davenport in East Sussex, this aromatic and floral wine was paired with the mushroom risotto and salt cod scotch egg. It has great structure with a crisp backbone, which is expected with age to become softer and more aromatic in the coming year.
Ancre Hill Estates Pinot Noir 2018, Monmouthshire Served with the St Austell Bay mussels in stout, this wine from biodynamic and organic Welsh producer Ancre Estate has aromas of red fruits, such as wild strawberry and black cherry, combined with spice. It has a long finish, which perfectly suited the depth of the mussel dish.
London Cru Sydney St Syrah 2016, London Made from grapes grown in Spain but bottled in London, this full-bodied wine is packed full of blackberry flavours with a peppery edge, providing the perfect partner to Udale's salt-aged beef fillet.
Denbies Noble Harvest 2016, Surrey This luscious and complex dessert wine worked perfectly with the banana custard, picking out the caramelised notes with a crispness on the palate and a dried apricot finish.
Udale Speciality Foods
Chef Eats Out provides diners with an exclusive opportunity to experience the culinary excellence of outstanding restaurants and chefs such as Tom Kerridge and we are delighted to help facilitate this through our support of the event.
It was wonderful to experience classic dishes from Tom Kerridge and Nick Beardshaw in the luxurious surroundings of Kerridge's Bar & Grill. The dishes that the team produced were hearty yet well-balanced and creative. We especially enjoyed the treacle-roasted fillet of beef from Udale, cooked so impressively on the rotisserie in the restaurant. The beef was aged in one of the biggest Himalayan salt chambers in the UK at Udale Speciality Foods. This results in a firmer product with a more intense taste.
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