Friday, 30 October 2009

Cambridge University Chefs Competition- live event

A very special culinary competition for chefs from the University of Cambridge and the Colleges is being planned this year to commemorate the University’s 800th Anniversary. With more classes than ever before the event, which takes place on Thursday 5 November at The Guildhall, promises to be an exciting celebration of culinary excellence with over 100 dishes on view to the public together with a live Front of House competition, where waiting staff will compete against each other by demonstrating their skill in creating fabulous table settings. New classes such as Petit Fours have been added alongside starters, mains and sweets and several others.

Chefs from Cambridge University and the Colleges were also invited to enter a Live Cookery Competition, which took place on Wednesday at Cambridge Regional College. Representing Pembroke as one of the ten competitors was Elvis 'Sasa' Williams. Below is the menu that Sasa produced.

The competitors were able to use the new state of the art cooking facilities at the newly opened Cambridge Regional Colleges Kings Hedges Campus. As you can see in the two photos below, Sasa had plenty of room and great equipment at his disposal. Each contestant was given 2 hours to prepare and serve a two course meal using products from the Major Company's range of stocks and bases. Judging the contest were representatives from Major foods, Cambridge Regional College and the University.
Sasa putting the finishing touches to his starter of citrus marinated salmon.

Pictured below are Judith Sloane from Conference Cambridge, Bill Simmonett-Catering and Conference Manager at Selwynn College and Robert Lee-Catering Manager at St Catherine's College. Conference Cambridge are helping sponsor this years competition which is greatly appreciated!

Below is a photograph of Stephen Mather- Executive Chef at Sidney Sussex College and former TUCO Chef of the Year Winner; Stephen, formally from Pembroke was a judge in this years contest.

This is a photo of Sasas' Citrus Cured Salmon with pea shoot coulis and citrus fruit.

Sasas' Roulade of Chicken wrapped in Swiss chard.

This year's contest was a big, big, success largely due to the hard work of the contests committee, and the generosity of Cambridge Regional College and our other sponsors.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

In The Master's Kitchen-Sous Vide cooking at The Lodge

Last night The Master and Lady Dearlove held a dinner party at The Masters Lodge, this would be our first opportunity to cook sous vide in their kitchen. The menu consisted of a crab tian followed by fillet of beef, a cheese course and finishing with Marquis au chocolat (some of you may remember me discussing this sweet in an earlier entry). Below is our Clifton Water Bath which we set at 57 degrees C which ensures the meat is cooked to medium-rare. On the right of the bath is the beef fillet that's been vacuum packed with a herb sachet and seasoning.

What is sous vide cooking? Sous vide - which literally translates from French as 'under vacuum' - was originally developed in France during the early 1970's. The process evolved when a chef and a university food scientist joined forces to devise a method for perfect foie gras. The best method proved to be sealing the food in a pouch under vacuum before slowly cooking it at a controlled low temperature. With the right sous vide equipment the gentle cooking process results in tender textures and enhanced, intense flavours, which are now part of every serious professional chef's life.
The Clifton Food Range of Water Baths guarantees accurate temperature control, and is now in use in the most exciting and acclaimed kitchens in the UK, including many Michelin starred restaurants. The Range is ideal for all types of low temperature cooking, including sous vide, in line with the growing appreciation of the benefits of Molecular Gastronomy. Below Seb Little, our Junior Sous Chef adds the beef to the water bath.

The water bath has a tiny propeller that gently circulates the water ensuring uniform cooking.

Tonight's dinner service was managed by our College Butler Savino and his team of assistants; Savino is widely recognised as being the best Butler in Cambridge.
With the beef we served French beans topped with glazed baby onions and crisp pancetta. The asparagus was on hand in case we needed a vegetarian alternative.

When catering at the Lodge we use the best College silver as seen below in the preparation of coffee.
Several hours later and the beef is nearly ready. Because the water bath holds the food at an exact temperature it is impossible to overcook; in fact the longer the meat remains in the water the more tender it becomes (the collagen in the muscle breaks down into gelatin which produces a tender finish).

The candles are lit minutes before the guests enter for dinner.

Below is our crab tian topped with micro-herbs seconds before a citrus dressing is added and the meal begins.
In the photo below, from left to right we have: Nick Rose-Head Chef, Xandra Diaz-Catering Assistant and Seb Little-Junior Sous Chef.

Also on hand to assist we had Fiametta Leotta (left) and Sonia Benito (right). Seen here with Head Chef Nick Rose
Rounding off our waiting staff was Adrienn Csiba seen below on the right of the picture.

When the beef is removed from the water bath and taken out of the vacuum bag is has a 'poached' appearance. We address this by quickly flashing the meat in a very hot pan, this gives the appearance and flavour of pan-cooked food.

as you can see in the picture below, the beef is cooked uniformly from edge to edge. This is the perfectly cooked result that is only possible with sous vide cooking.

Below the beef is plated with the French Beans, glazed onions, crisp pancetta and Anna Potatoes. We finished the plate with a nice thyme jus.

After the beef we followed the French tradition of serving cheese before the sweet. This allows for the continuation of red wine from the beef course.

Below is the Marquis au chocolat garnished with creme Anglaise, chopped pistachios and micro mint. The Master enjoyed this when we first served it on the 19th of October and asked for it again last night.
I spoke with Lady Dearlove earlier today and she expressed her happiness with the food and service provided.
Another great meal from the Master's Kitchen!

Formal Hall Menus 2/11 to 8/11

Feast Night Formal Hall
Monday 2nd November
Organic Carrot Soup
Cilantro coulee
Lemon Sorbet
Free-Range Pouisson Royale
Boulangere potatoes and caramelised red cabbage
Thyme jus

(V) Goat’s Cheese, Ratatouille and Parmesan Crust
Pistachio Cake
Homemade Dark Chocolate Ice Cream and cherry coulee

Feast Night Formal Hall
Tuesday 3rd November

Amuse Bouche
Smoked Salmon Mousse with Orange

(V) Cream cheese Mousse
Brie en Croute
Compressed Vanilla Pear and watercress dressing
Crisp Belly of Pork Sous Vide
Spinach risotto and spring onion
Roasted shallot jus

(V) Spinach and Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Raspberry and Brioche Pudding
White chocolate Custard

Feast Night Formal Hall
Wednesday 4th November

Amuse Bouche
Shrimp Cocktail

(V) Smoked Tofu Cocktail

Minestrone Soup
Parmesan and herb crouton
Char-grilled Asian Salmon
Lime, red chilli, garlic and coriander
Wild rice and Asian Greens- sweet soy reduction

(V) Vegetable Stir-fry
Chocolate Crème Brulee
Financier Cake and yoghurt sorbet

Formal Hall
Thursday 5th November

Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese tart
Sirloin of Beef Sous Vide
Peas, carrots, baby onions and turnips, sautéed potatoes
Béarnaise sauce and crouton

(V) Bubble n Squeak
Peas, carrots, baby onions and turnips, sautéed potatoes
Béarnaise sauce and crouton
Warm Apple and Cinnamon Turnover
Vanilla Ice Cream

Formal Hall
Friday 6th November

Ballotine of Salmon
Horseradish relish, beetroot puree

(V) Beef Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil
Moroccan Lamb Rump Sous Vide
Harissa spiced couscous, chickpea salsa, spinach and jus

(V) Falafel Medallions
Harissa spiced couscous, chickpea salsa, spinach and jus
Pistachio Soufflé
Apricot sorbet

Formal Hall
Saturday 7th November

Duck Liver Pate
Red onion relish

(V) Cream Cheese and Artichoke Pate
Grilled Sea Bass
Fondant potato, spinach, parsnip puree
Vanilla and saffron cream

(V) Spinach and Ricotta Crepes
Béchamel and tomato sauces
Baileys Bread and Butter Pudding
Coffee Bean Custard

Formal Hall
Sunday 8th November

Prawn Cocktail
Marie Rose Dressing

(V) Cucumber and Tomato Cocktail
With Dill
Breast of Turkey Sous Vide
Cocktail sausage, cranberry stuffing, bread sauce,
Panache of roasted vegetables and potatoes

(V) Cranberry and Hazelnut Loaf
Pear and Apple Crumble
Crème Anglaise
Bon Appetite!

What you've been missing recently

I've not been in the kitchen much this week, but I did leave a camera with the chefs. Ioana, our sous chef took the following photos of her favourite dishes.

Paprika and Garlic Rubbed Fillet of Pork Sous Vide
Anna potatoes, cauliflower puree, Masala and spinach cream sauce

Sweet Potato Soup
with Vanilla and Verjus

Smoked Salmon Tartare
Tomato consomme, compressed cucumber and lemon oil
Salmon Pastrami
Sourdough and reduced balsamic
Pan-Roasted Fresh Cod
Braised spring onions, chestnut mushrooms, turnip puree and baby fondants
Jus gras

Savignon Blanc Braised Pineapple
White chocolate sorbet and cilantro coulis

Chocolate Pave
Glazed Lemon Tart with Raspberry Syllabub

I hope this makes you hungry!