Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Good, the bad and the ugly!

January sees one of the most important dates in the restaurant calendar, the release of the much coveted Michelin Guide. Other guides are available but it is this one that Chefs want to be noted in. Inspectors visit several times a year, unannounced and often booking under different names to try and catch out the poor chefs. To show how important Chefs think of this guide one Chef in France actually committed suicide when he found out he had lost one of his much coveted stars - seems a bit OTT to me!!

As of last year there were about:-
100 One Star Restaurants
12 Two Star Restaurants
3 Three Star Restaurants

Michelin star guide - what the stars mean:

One Michelin star: A very good restaurant or pub in its category
The star indicates a good place to stop on your journey. But beware of comparing the star given to an expensive de luxe establishment with that of a simple restaurant where you can appreciate fine cooking at a reasonable price.

Two Michelin star: Excellent cooking, worth a detour
Specialities and wines of first class quality. This will be reflected in the price

Three Michelin star: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
One always eats here extremely well, sometimes superbly. Fine wines, faultless service, elegant surroundings. One will pay accordingly.!

Or look at this point in cyber space

There was a lot of talk about Le Champignon Sauvage - the restaurant were I currently work- getting a third star this year, with fellow restaurant owners ringing up daily to find out the gossip! Unfortunately we didn't gain a star but more importantly we didn't loose one either. A list of winners and losers can be found here, sorry no here!

Now people have different views of these guides and I would honestly love to gain a star when I open my own restaurant (eventually) but my problem is they do not represent a true picture of what the restaurant offers. We have a list of inspectors, along with photos,numbers they use to book, know they only book for 1 and nearly all dress the same so we can spot these people a mile off. Not saying every restaurant does this but this means that these people get special treatment! It's my opinion a lot of these restaurants only serve Star class meals to the inspectors as it is these guys who award them. I have been in star class restaurants that don't even deserve to get a BIB Gourmand - one below a star, but obviously ticked all the right boxes for the inspector!

On a sadder note found out this week that my dad had to go into hospital as the silly sod poisoned himself! He ate what he thought was an onion but unfortunately turned out to be a daffodil bulb. The doctors say he will be fine and should be out in the spring!

On a brighter note congrats are in order to my good friends Damian and Jess who have just had there first baby, a boy 7lbs 11! Both mum and baby doing well! Dad will be worst for wear tonight as we shall be wetting the babies head - hurrah!

Me lookin soooooooooooo scared when left holding the baby!!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tis the season to be jolly....

.... and to make someone's life better!!!

The festive season is well and truly upon us! Many of us are spending many an hour trawling through shops trying to choose presents for friends and loved ones! How many of us will buy unwanted presents for people that will end up sitting in cupboards after being used once. Even worse stupid presents such as socks, underwear or shower wash & bath bubbles!

There is an alternative option, an option that gives something special to people who need it, who never get the chance to receive a pair of unwanted socks or pants! Oxfam GB works in over 70 countries, including the UK helping people who are suffering through no fault of there own! This Christmas give a present that will be truly APPRECIATED! Oxfam Unwrapped is a way of giving presents that will be needed and start from as little as £5! Make a difference this Christmas! Go to Oxfam Unwrapped, look around AND BUY SOMETHING GOOD! Click Here now! Please make a difference this year!

On a more HEAVY note - sorry to be a downer - who the hell is that good lookin guy in the Restaurant Magazine, a trade mag for - you guessed it, RESTAURANTS! Yep, its me!

And just in case that not enough, here is an action shot. This is what we ACTUALLY do all day, honest!

Sorry boutquality of photos, took with my phone! God i remember when you could ACTUALLY make calls with mobile phones *sigh*!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mr Bandwagon's One Square meal....

Due to that pesky thing called work had to have a very belated birthday gathering, which was nice! No fancy party or glitzy venues, just an evening in a friendly boozer with friends! Sounds boring but as I live away, everyone getting older and having kids and it having to happen on a Sunday (pesky work..GRRR!) it happens less and less! It was nice to see so many people making the effort and come out on a school night! It was just like the old days - now I know I'm getting old(er)! This gathering bought about one of our favourite stupid games.... if you were a ???? what would you be? With subjects such as fish or cheese - bizarre I know! But this bought about a new and interesting one - Roger Hargreaves is writing a new range of Lil Miss and Mr Men books and wants to write one about you - what's it called and why? Had a surprising range of answers - only women seem to be able to give sensible answers - if such a thing! So, Hi I'm Mr Bandwagon as I jump on so many!

As previously mentioned I was beening treated to lunch by my generous boss! I was asked where my preferences to eat where and so on Monday we meet at the stupid hour of 9am (on my well deserved day off) and we headed of to London Village. We were meeting some new suppliers before lunch to arrange some sample coffee blends for the restaurant so we arrived at coffee hq to sample their offerings - which was nice but after 8 espressos was feeling kinda wired! On way to restaurant was told could not get into my choices so they decided themselves, a judgement I trust from my Chef - holder of 2 Michelin Stars - so knows enough about food to be trusted! The venue was another 2 Michelin Star restaurant called The Square in SWANKY Mayfair! The place has just undergone a referb and the dining room was light, airy with some nice pieces of art work on the walls. Quite refined! It was my kind of place as no music was playing in the background which is always good! Not that I don't like music - I love it, it's just that normally you find they play something to try and please everybody - which means non descript crap! So no music is good! Service is quiet and quite discreet which is something else I like! Nothing worse than having some waiter/ess striking up a conversation while trying to eat!
We started with a selection of Amuse Bouche including tempura langoustine tails, deep-fried risotto balls and foie gras mousse! This was followed by an appetizer of Mushroom Soup with a cep foam and summer truffles! This was flavoursome, hot and a great palate cleanser - but lacked a severe amount of salt! My first course was a Salad of Cumin Dusted Calves Sweetbreads with Cauliflower, Cepes, Almonds, Beaufort and Truffle. This looked amazing with the sweetbreads cooked perfectly, seasoned slightly better but not warm enough which disappointed! This was followed by Orkney Scallops with Curried Parsnip Puree and a Vinaigrette of Pomegranate, Grapes, Capers and Lime. Again looked stunning on the plate, Scallops cooked perfect, flavours all worked well together and seasoned nicely! The best course so far! Next was the Assiette of Veal which included Braised Cheek, Sweetbread, Confit of Liver and Croquette of Tongue! This looked stunning on the plate with some stunning colours from the carrot puree and cauliflower puree, the meat was cooked perfectly and great flavours but was no where near warm enough as the purees and sauce were starting to congeal on the plate, so very disappointing! Dessert was Raisin and Guinness Soufflé with Black Velvet Ice Cream which was lovely! All in all for the standard of the restaurant I was quite disappointed! The food, flavours and style of cooking was excellent - just let down by the warmth of the food! We previously ate at the sister restaurant The Ledbury and felt was far better only let down being over zealous with the salt!

Rating 6/10 but well worth a visit - dont get 2 stars for nothing!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Birthdays, Boozey doos and Book launches...

Been a busy two weeks starting with an event organised by The Caterer
called "Chef Eats Out", which gives fellow young chefs the opportunity to eat at Michelin Starred restaurants at a reduced price. So on the 18th and 19th October we had 60 chefs visiting to eat 8 very memorable courses for the measly price of £45 - including champagne and wine!! This worked out as two courses per section with my contribution being a Lemon Parfait with Fromage Frais and Pepper sorbet and the Chocolate Delice with Barley ice cream, two of the most time consuming desserts we make!!!!

Fortunately both days went down well but with 2 extremely long days - starting at 8am and finishing after 11pm with only a 20 min break!!!! Takes me back to the old days at Le Manoir!!

These days kind of took over my birthday which passed in a blur as the weekend was also taken up preparing for my bosses mini-book launch at one of the large national book stores! It was the first and - so far - only (thank god!) appearance he has done and so he felt compelled to produce some of the dishes for the 80 guests attending! Yet again the most time consuming dessert was chosen - the Chocolate Delice, as pictured above! My boss being the kind, generous man he is also roped the kitchen brigade to accompany him and act as waiters for the night, serving and answering the many stupid questions asked all night whilst he sat signing books!! All in all it was a very successful night with many books being sold!

As a thank you my boss has decided to not buy us presents for birthdays but to take us out for lunch to either a restaurant of our choice or depending on availability a choose of his! My choices were either Gordon Ramseys or The Waterside Inn both 3 starred restaurants! Find out later where we ended up!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How to cook a beef burger....

... or not as the case maybe!!!

Mid September to Mid November is a busy Birthday period for me, having at least one party to attend each week - sorry invite to a party each week! Rarely make the party as nearly always on a Saturday night -
when I'm working! And they call themselves friends! This means I end up taking birthday person out on a Sunday , normally for something to eat. Now being a Chef the one question I'm guaranteed to be asked is "Do you get over critical when going out for food ?" To which my response is "No, not really! I do think you get what you pay for! I only get really critical if going for fine dining meals." So the majority of my eating out is done in pubs and all in all my rule stands, you get what you pay for! That is up until Sunday! My v. good friend J had birthday I missed yet again (bloody work!) so we met up on Sunday for few drinks and a bite to eat. Being Sunday night and she still recovering from a "hectic" birthday weekend we thought we'd go chill in local bar she said did good burgers. Looking back I can now see were I went wrong - her idea of a good burger involves no beef or any meat in fact as she is a weirdo - sorry, vegetarian - so she would have NO IDEA what the burgers would taste like!! OH MY GOD is all I can say! OH MY GOD! How can one human being do something so terrible to something so simple! Burgers are supposed to taste of something, hopefully beef - but this was the most none descript piece of thing I ever tasted. It actually made a McDonalds burger look and taste appetizing. It was the greyest, thinnest driest piece of meat I have ever seen, cardboard would of been an improvement. Burgers are supposed to be red, thick and juicy - coming from real cows! I can't believe people actually enjoy eating something like that or cooking it, it made school dinners and their turkey twizzlers look appealing! If that wasn't bad enough out came J's desert - a rubber treacle with yellow skin. Always wondered how to make custard that could be picked up in one go with a fork!?!? Ever wondered how these places can produce a pudding it would take you 45 mins to make appear in 4 mins? Thats right the ding box! How can you call yourself a CHEF when all you do is reheat in the magic ding box?!?!? they should be ashamed. And to make it even worse they earn half as much again on what i earn! And all through it could not make a comment as promised J would be happy wherever she wanted to go, so lied through gritted teeth. Love you J x

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Today I make history....

.... tomorrow i take over the world!!!

Ok slight exaggeration there, maybe I won't
actually be taking over the world, but today I have made history - kind of! My very first blog! How excited am I!

Decided to start BLOGGING after reading DoGGa's blog and all those links of his site. Thought if Morning Glory (my nickname for DoGGa for a certain reason) can do it - so can I goddanmit! So welcome to my world which will now be out there in cyber space for you all to peruse if you so desire! Please call back occasionally to see what's going on and catch up with you!!

That's all for now folks.