I have had many highlights in 2017, but this one stood out. I was privileged to organise the food for the bm Stars company awards evening. I did it with all the trainee chefs who are currently on our NVQ training scheme. This is not an event they would usually cook for. It was a great opportunity for them to show us what they are made of, and boy (and girl) did they deliver. This also meant the chefs who usually would be in the frame for events like this got the night off!

Enthusiasm

The trainee chefs showed great enthusiasm and willingness to learn. From making their own cheese, to butchering a whole goat and smoking and cooking a brisket of beef. Every chef came with a notepad and camera phone and they exceeded my expectations.

Embarrassment

I was embarrassed as the only mistake over the two days of preparation came from me, the most senior chef! Luckily ‘what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen’. I undercooked the quail eggs, making them impossible to peel, so I had to start again. I would like to say this was deliberate to make the trainee chefs feel at-ease, but it was genuine user error.

Recognition

In keeping with the theme of the evening, I would like to recognise these chefs:

Denver

‘Chief asker of challenging questions and imparter of knowledge award’ , especially his stories from ‘back home’.

Klaudia

‘Persistence and dedication award’, for running the pass all night. Klaudia let Chef De Partis, Terry take over for a short time as he wanted to be part of the action. But Klaudia was soon back reclaiming her rightful position!

Rytis

‘Most welcoming host award’. As it was Rytis’ ‘ kitchen’ he settled everyone in quickly, made the tea (most important). Rytis efficiently ran the back kitchen to keep the flow of food to the pass consistent.

Consistency

The evening catered for 200 people with bowl food. It was a pleasure to see that the last bowl that went out was as good as the first. The goat curry was the standout dish of the night, judging by the feedback at the time and since.

Ownership

The trainee chefs made all the seasoning and final decisions including presentation. It was really pleasing to hear words such as ‘amazing’ and ‘best company event food ever’. This is awesome when said by someone as hard to impress as Managing Director, Francois Gautreaux. I am trying not to be too jealous, as Francois has never said anything as nice about my food.

As you can see in the menu below each dish had a great balance and something you really want to eat. I hope you will agree some of the techniques were way beyond the level you would expect from chefs in their trainee position.

This is a taste of the delicious food they prepared

  • Bbq goat curry with plantain crisps and rice and peas
  • Smoked brisket with pickled cucumber and celeriac slaw
  • Smoked chicken sloppy joe hot dog and fried shallots
  • Bulgar wheat salad with carrot, burnt aubergine cumin paneer cheese topped with lime and saffron yoghurt
  • Smoked haddock, orzo, blackened corn and quails egg chowder

We arranged backup support on the night from the senior team, if needed. But they were never called upon, our trainee chef team had it covered.

Going forward, we plan to always include trainee chefs in similar events. They are bartlett mitchell’s future head chefs and I can’t wait to see more amazing food from them. This time next year………