Spring 09 - Skillery @ IFE

12/04/2013 11:04
The Craft Guild Skillery was back in action at this year’s IFE exhibition where visitors saw an interesting mix of culinary styles.

For the second time the Craft Guild opened the doors to its Skillery for the biennial IFE food and drink extravaganza offering visitors a chance to witness a raft of demos on menus ranging from healthy eating to “gastro porn”.

The main sponsors of the Skillery were Silver Hill Foods and Enodis, with individual sessions sponsored by many of the Guild’s supporters.

Craft Guild’s Ian Nottage, chef director at Leathams, and Mat Shropshall, food development chef, focused on the fast food market which is becoming increasingly competitive. Nottage demonstrated some inspiring ‘food on the move’ ideas during his session, while Shropshall put the traditional British dessert under the microscope to look at ways of recreating dishes cost effectively as the recession continues to bite. He used his skills to create savoury and sweet bread and butter pudding flavours with a twist.

Knorr National Chef of the Year Simon Hulstone, fresh from his Bocuse d’Or challenge in France, shared the secrets of the dishes he cooked at the latter.

He showcased a starter of Jerusalem artichoke cepe mousse, with a rack of scallops and parsnip purée. Key ingredients used to give his dishes that extra edge included salmon and prawn mousse, raw tiger prawns, Cornish salt and sherry vinegar.

Putting a healthy spin on food, Restaurant Associates executive chef Andy Aston kicked off his session explaining that his aim as a chef is not to convince people to stop adding butter and salt to their food, but instead to make them aware of healthier alternatives as a way of seasoning. For instance, using soft herbs, lemons, beetroot and pomegranate as a replacement.

He began with a simple tasty poached chicken leg infused with ginger, red pepper and radish, Cheltenham beetroot and pomegranate, followed by a poached fillet of pork with olive, watercress and caper purée and a vine tomato dressing. Other dishes included gurnard fillet cooked en papillote with leeks, desirée potatoes, soft herbs and lemons.

Aston also explained that student chefs need to be let loose more to learn about different cuisines and recipes. “We can go out and buy anything we want but the problem is we’re not learning. Students need to work the recipe right to the end to learn and appreciate food,” he says.

Craft Guild vice president Steve Munkley focused on beef in his demo. The executive chef of the Royal Garden Hotel and Gary Stokes from Aslyn’s Organic Farm gave top tips on how to use all parts of the animal when cooking. While Munkley was cooking, Stokes gave an insight into how important it is for farmers and chefs to work together to see what animals look like on our plates.

Spicy aromas filled the Skillery when Indian chef Cyrus Todiwala took to the stage. He demonstrated how to get good quality rice as well as defining the word ‘curry’.

He used economically friendly cuts of pork such as shoulder medallion and pork belly to prepare his traditional vindaloo, as well as rustling up a pheasant kofta curry – putting an innovative British twist on a traditional Indian dish. He finished his session by giving a few examples of some of the best wines that would complement his finest dishes.

Craft Guild chairman Nick Vadis too used his culinary flair to demonstrate the versatility of the alternative types of fish and produce, while McCormick’s concept development chef Steve Love was another chef who concentrated on healthy eating and brought together different flavours, herbs and recipes using no salt.

He created chicken legs in curry and orange sauce; smoked bacon, lentil, potato and cinnamon soup; and kebab karaz lamb with sour cherries and pomegranate.

Celebrity chef Brian Turner took a trip down memory lane producing some traditional hotpots, stews and cobblers, and Marriott County Hall’s executive chef Christopher Basten gave advice on menu ideas to combat food allergies such as coeliac disease.

One session that caught the imagination of the Skillery audience was the ‘gastronomic porn experience’ promised by Griffith Laboratories’ European culinary director John Feeney. Starting with a film clip of gastro porn experiences ranging from restaurant shots to Nigella Lawson’s sensual cookery programme and Marks & Spencer’s sensory description of food, Feeney and his fellow chefs Jordi Gallego from Griffiths in Spain and Izu Ani from Vanilla Restaurant set off on the sensory food route.

Feeny demonstrated a Japanese barbecue, a Ying and Yang cooking pot he says is “perfect for entertaining”, Thai street food and a Sunday roast that challenged perception versus reality.

Ani meanwhile demonstrated his famous kaolin potatoes, which are made to look like stones alongside real stones with liquid black rice used to give them authenticity. Feeney used black garlic to make aioli and for his Japanese inspired burger he used the finest beef supplied by Nigel Fredericks.

One of the most amazing dishes was Feeney’s take on the Sunday roast complete with edible menu. It included horseradish jelly or gum to open the nasal passages in order to enjoy the crispy beef with jelly flavoured with applewood.

To complete the experience he sprayed “gravy” in front of the diners so that they got the flavour without even putting it on their plate.

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