What will the chefs be serving up at The Restaurant Show?

The National Chef of the Year finalists had a fantastic mentor day held at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday 10th September. On this day, the mystery basket was unveiled by Chair of judges, Gary Jones with our key ingredient suppliers Direct Seafoods, British Premium Meats, Mash, Knorr, Ritter Courivaud and Valrhona UK.

What’s the starter?

With sustainability being a key focus for the starter, chefs must create a bouillabaisse style, flavoured dish using under-utilised fish. The choice of ingredients from Direct Seafoods includes clams, cold water prawns, coly, cuttle fish, gilt head bream, red gurnard, hake, ling, megrim sole, mussels, red mullet, scallops and tiger prawns.

The chefs had a detailed brief from Direct Seafoods providing plenty of background on the sourcing of each fish and how it could be prepared. Chefs took plenty of notes ready to start planning their menus.

Natalie Hudd, director of sales at Direct Seafoods told us: “Seasonality is crucial when it comes to planning fish and seafood dishes, not only because there are certain times of year when specific species are at their best, but also times when they should be avoided because of breeding cycles, migration patterns and other issues connected with good management and preservation of wild fish stocks.”

What’s the main course?

Chefs must then serve up a main course utilising cuts of suckling pig. Competitors will have the opportunity to pre-cook one element of the pig prior to the competition ensuring it does not amount to more than 20% of the final dish. In addition to the suckling pig they will also have access to Soanes & Son Yorkshire free range chicken, caul fat, black pudding, Italian lardo whole, Spanish chorizo and sausages when planning their menus.

Where will the suckling pigs be coming from?

The suckling pigs which British Premium Meats are supplying will be coming from Euston Estate Farm in Suffolk. The eastern counties of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire are synonymous with pig farming; some of the UK’s largest pig producers have farms and processing plants in these counties. The Euston Estate covers an area of 10,500 acres, 6,260 acres of which are farmed. The estate grows wheat, barley, oilseed rape, beans and sugar beet. The land is also used for free-range pig and poultry farming as well as the growing of potatoes, carrots and parsnips.

The pigs are a Large White and Landrace cross from pig farmer, Chris Fogden’s farm which is situated on the estate. These are a popular breed amongst UK pig farmers producing lean consistent cuts. The piglets will have been weened at four weeks before being put on a diet of a pellet form of milk for three weeks before slaughter.  This time period is important as it allows the piglets to achieve the ideal slaughter weight of around 7kg. The piglets are Freedom Food Accredited and are kept outdoors at all times. A combination of good management and outdoor living means that the health of the herd is excellent, leading to minimal use of antibiotics on the farm.

The pigs slot into part of the arable rotation on the estate, occupying land for two years out of six. This is then followed by sugar beet, then potatoes, followed by onions and maize for biogas or winter barley, then back to pigs.

What’s for dessert?

Finally, the chefs are being asked to create an elegant dessert honouring seasonal pears, supplied by Mash, which showcases technical skill, balance and maximum flavour impact.

Mash believes in supporting its suppliers and working with them to develop produce required by the dynamic and fast-changing dining scene.

All of the Mash growers are based in the UK and Europe with provenance being fundamental. The growers operate at the highest level with a dedication to producing the very finest produce available. Mash is trusted to deliver its produce in the best possible condition to its customers, using computer optimised picking and packing technology for industry-leading turnaround times.

See what’s in season this month with this calendar from Mash.

Five more unusual ingredients in the mystery basket

Each year we love chatting to Ritter Courivaud at the Mentor Day and learning about the latest unusual ingredients. As well as a wide range of dry store ingredients, Ritter revealed some new additions to the basket.

  1. Freeze dried 100% grass shrimp in powder – Veta La Palma is a large fishing farm located in the heart of the Guadalquivir Marshes. The wild grass shrimp, which form part of the diet of its fish farmed here, live in a carefully managed aquatic habitat rich in microalgae and are collected daily using traditional artisan fish traps. Full of nutrients and flavour, they can easily be added to many dishes in a convenient freeze-dried 100% natural powder format to give a delicious flavour.
  2. Fresh pollen – Soft grains of floral and earthy pollens, frozen within 24 hours of collection. Conserved in a protective atmosphere, keeping its aroma, taste and nutritional composition intact. This product has a long ambient shelf-life with no need to refrigerate until the jar is opened.
  3. Arbequina Olive Oil with Sea Plankton – Extra virgin olive oil made with the freshest Arbequina olives and infused with Plancton Marino sea phytoplankton. This great tasting oil has a marine aroma and flavour, ideal for raw fish and seafood dishes, such as tartars and ceviches. It always works perfectly for cooking grilled fish and seafood as well as pasta and rice recipes. It’s 100% natural, vegan and gluten free.
  4. Harissa Olive Oil – A unique spicy and aromatic oil made with the highest quality Spanish Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil combined in perfect harmony with an original Harissa sauce recipe consisting of dried red peppers, cayenne, garlic, coriander and caraway seeds.
  5. Orange Honey with Saffron – Throughout the ages Mediterranean civilisations have used saffron to flavour, colour and enrich recipes and dishes. When combined with artMuria honey opens up new gastronomic sensations. A concept especially suited for sweet dishes, sauces, salad dressings and marinades.

You will be able to see what the chefs create by joining us for the live final at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday 1st October 2019.

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