Archive for November, 2011

Dear Wild Cooks,

It is not often that you get asked to be a part of a brand new food festival by a local Michelin starred establishment. So when I was approached by The Devonshire Arms to participate in their 2011 Food Festival it was a real pleasure to accept the challenge.

It was a battle between the Harrogate chefs as I competed against Tom Van Zeller from his award winning restaurant in Harrogate.

Harrogate Chef, Tom Van Zeller

Harrogate Chef, Tom Van Zeller

The day started with an early morning cup of coffee with the Breakfast Chef at the Devonshire Arms…it all seemed so civilised! I then ran through my menu with Restaurant Manager, Valentin Gadjonov, and his team.

Briefing the Restaurant Manager and the team before the Devonshire Food Festival
Briefing the Restaurant Manager and the team before the Devonshire Food Festival

Tickets sold out rapidly and therefore the pressure was on as we both demonstrated in front of a full house trying to win votes on their preferred menu.

Here is my menu:

Roast Duck Salad
beetroot hedgerow crisps and forager’s relish
( A Wild Cook’s idea of fun. I love the combination of the sweet and sour and the forager’s relish really cuts thought the fat of the Yorkshire free range Leven ducks)

Pork Fillet
confit potato cake, quince (forager’s fun again!) and Ampleforth amber liquor sauce
(The pork fillets were locally sourced from Easingwold. I also use confit of pork ashen in a potato cake with leeks rolled and fried in Scotch large oats – lovely stuff!)

Apples, Plums and Pears
(I left this to the guests’ imagination however it was made up of a dark chocolate marquise with flambé plums, pear parfait and apple crumble with vanilla sauce)

Plating up my starter

Plating up my starter

Tom’s menu
Scallops Escabeche
pumpkin sorbet and pumpkin seeds
(Escabeche literally means ‘marinated’)

Local Partridge
Tom’s partridge was rolled into a sausage shape and gently poached and served with a selection of accompaniments including black pudding crumbs and pastry parcels, it looked stunning.

Frozen Pannacotta
flambé quince

Tom with his Sous Chef, the Devonshire Pastry Chef Ellen and her colleague Archie prepare his pudding plates

Tom with his Sous Chef, the Devonshire Pastry Chef Ellen and her colleague Archie prepare his pudding plates

Although Tom’s menu won on the day, it was a great challenge and a real pleasure for me to cook at The Devonshire Arms.

Personally I think Steve Smith, Head Chef at the Burlington Restaurant, is a legend on the northern food scene and in my opinion is arguably the finest chef in the North of England.

A special hello to Ellen de Jager, the Pastry Chef at The Devonshire Arms, and her Commis Chef Gemma. They did an amazing job helping me with my mini puddings!

All in all it was a great day and well done to Tom and the team at The Devonshire Arms. Rebecca Hill, Marketing Manager, did a fantastic job of organising and overseeing the day.

Steph x

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Has the world gone mad? I cannot believe that this autumn kids are not allowed to play conkers in school because of health and safety! That’s according to a local farm shop who was inform of the new rule when they had conkers and string on display for the kids to make their own fun…

Conkers has to be one of a Forager’s favourite games and I was not going to give it up easily! I therefore took my niece and nephew out and about to forage for some different items we could use!

Our foraging finds!

Our foraging finds!

Bullis, rosehips , sloes, hawthorne and a few conkers (!!) to be exact, which they enjoyed apart from the rosehips…danger money was not provided by their Aunty Steph! (rosehips are VERY prickly!)

We also selected further foraged ingredients for for the Food Festival at The Devonshire Arms in Bolton Abbey this week. I am really excited about this one Wild Cooks, it’s a real honour to be asked by Steve Smith (Head Chef at the Burlington) to be a part of this festival and to cook along side fellow Harrogate Chef , Tom Van Zellar.

Amazing autumnal colours

Amazing autumnal colours

As my Niece and Nephew were brilliant foragers, I thought it best to cook them up a tasty pot of homely food to warm them up. This great stew is one you can leave on the slow cooker all day or in the Aga and it will be ready for your return.

Oxtail Casserole Recipe

Watch out for my next blog regarding the Devonshire Food Festival and I will let you know how I get on!

Steph  (the evil Aunty!!! No really – they loved it!)

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