The Chefs’ Forum went back to its roots in holding this quarter’s Bristol Chefs’ Forum event in the heart of the City of Bristol, where it first launched in 2011. The Bristol Harbour Hotel is Bristol’s newest and most impressive events space and its opulent Sansovino Hall proved the perfect venue for the prolific culinary gathering.
‘Fabulous fish in the banking hall’ was the title of the event, but this didn’t really do it justice. Once the former banking hall of the Lloyds Bank building, this venue has, until now, been one of Bristol’s best kept secrets. The Sansovino Hall hosts a magnificent skylight with an intricately painted ceiling and can seat up to 300 guests for a diverse range of occasions. The hall, inspired by Sansovino’s 16th century library of St Mark in the Piazzatta at Venice, provided a grandioso back-drop for The Chefs’ Forum Demo Stage which made an outing to maximise on such an amazing venue.
Headline sponsors, Bristol Audi provided a beautiful electric blue Audi Q2 to mark the Corn Street entrance to The Chefs’ Forum in the grand hall, perfectly matching the ‘blue carpet’ leading into the event. The day started with an hour of networking, where chefs and employers got to compare notes and discuss their individual requirements and current industry topics.
Head Chef Christian Wragg worked with HIT Training learners and City of Bristol College students to produce delicious canapés showcasing The Chefs’ Forum sponsors’ ingredients and his delicious menu at the Jetty Restaurant. All ingredients were donated by The Chefs’ Forum sponsors Arthur David, Walter Rose Butchers, Kingfisher Brixham, Koppert Cress and Castell Howell.
The Chefs’ Forum Founder Catherine Farinha welcomed guests to the event and said:
“It is brilliant to be back in Bristol once again, where The Chefs’ Forum began six years ago. Since then, we have grown to hold 36 events a year in nine areas, from Birmingham to Cornwall, Wales to Kent and London. It is great to see so many faces old and new and we are truly grateful for the on-going support offered by the great chefs of Bristol, celebrating such a vibrant and diverse food scene in the newly-crowned Sunday Times Newspaper’s best Place to Live!”
First up to the purpose-built Chefs’ Forum demo stage was Kingfisher Brixham’s Darren Whelan who silenced the room with a series of high-speed, high-yield fish filleting demos. The chefs looked on in awe as he annihilated a flatfish, turned a gurnard inside-out and filleted a ginormous salmon in seconds!
This preceded a mackerel-filleting competition for the students which saw level one student Fenton Partridge (City of Bristol College) pip HIT Training learner to the winning post by a pin bone; Fenton produced some great boneless fillets and bagged himself a fabulous Sakai Takayuki Japanese paring knife, kindly donated by Chefs Locker which he vowed to look after and treasure for life!
Christian performed a cookery demo showcasing his signature octopus starter and talked the chefs through sousvide cookery and the advantages of using frozen octopus over fresh for this type of fish. Christian talked chefs through the prepping, seasoning and vac-packing of the octopus, prior to its submersion in the Clifton Food Range water bath for six hours. He then produced one he made earlier and finished it in the pan on Locher Induction provided by Cusinequip.
“It is great to welcome the Bristol chef scene to Bristol’s newest event venue. I have very much enjoyed working with the students from HIT Training and City of Bristol College. I am proud to showcase my sousvide octopus dish, one of our signature starter dishes on the Jetty Bites menu. I look forward to welcoming the chefs back to eat with us and students for work experience very soon!”
Christian then plated the dish for the guests to try.
Next on the demo stage was Convotherm’s development chef Keith Howland. Keith gathered various quality ingredients from the top quality suppliers around the room to produce a sumptuous hake dish with seasonal vegetables using the Convotherm combi oven and induction plancha. Keith plated the dish on Artis tableware and garnished the dish with Koppert Cress micro borage which finished the dish perfectly.
The Bristol institution that is Averys led a tutored wine and food pairing session. Fifth generation wine merchant, Mimi Avery captivated the audience of hospitality industry professionals with her expert selection of three wines paired to three of Christian’s canapés. The guests learned rose stands up well to the oiliness of salmon, that goats cheese is well-partnered to a southern French blend that it is indeed very hard to pair a wine to grilled artichoke, but Averys fine Claret Merlot and Cabernet blend 2012 complimented the smoky grilled notes!
A delicious Jetty Afternoon Tea accompanied by finest barista-made Illy coffee rounded off a day of great demos, culinary flare and chef networking and a fabulous day was had by all in the banking hall!
The Chefs’ Forum continues to hold four events a year in Bristol and any chefs interested in attending should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography by www.fayditphotography.com