Well we have now completed the return visit of Chef But with his second visit with again two highly enjoyable nights… These nights take some planning and organisation as it is quite an involved feat to cook a banquet of some ten dishes in a domestic kitchen…
I have known Chef But for over thirty years and we have cooked many a dinner and done many a promotional event together. We have taken Chinese food to the Scilly Isles, East Anglia, Hampshire and other parts near and far. He has always been a pleasure to cook with as he is such a professional and as equally enthusiastic about food as I am!
We used to often meet for a Sunday Dim Sum lunch following a bout of tennis in the morning and follow that lunch with a slap up tea at a 5 star hotel… oh the days before marriage and family commitments!
I dashed down the motorway on Thursday morning to pick B and his wife Sue up from East Croydon station followed by a quick trip up to Wing Yip “the big” Chinese supermarket. It is a veritable emporium of all things Asian and the source of much that we needed so following a quick bite to eat in the restaurant next door we loaded up the car and headed back to HQ to start preparing.
It’s always fascinating to see how much hard work goes into the events we do and this one was no exception, we worked solidly until early evening prepping the meats and the smells emanating from the kitchen wafted throughout my home.
It was also slightly stressful as B announced the little bottle of “Lye Water” he had brought with him had been damaged in transit and he was in dire need of more! Well firstly trying to understand what Lye Water was or is, meant a Google search to discover it is a caustic soda and water mix used in soap making and in some cases for pastry. Hence the need for Chef But and his impending noodle demo!
A quick request via twitter revealed a place nearby in Tunbridge Wells should stock it but a phone call revealed it was not availible and the person on the phone went on to tell me it is something now illegal… this was news to chef But as he has been using it for over 30 years in his noodle making process and still able to purchase from other chinese emporia.
Another fellow tweeter kindly posted a little (you tube) video on how we could make our own and in fairness if we had time and a large plastic oil drum knocking about we might have considwered it! Anyway chef But soldiered on and duly managed without and we continued to prepare the banquet menu.
So onto the dinners… we always find the first night harder than the second – I guess it is to be expected… first night nerves and doing dinners back to back we have an easier task on night two as some prep work is already done. These dinners were no different and we had a full house both nights. A two of no shows on the second night was somewhat annoying as we had turned others away and we pride ourselves in ensuring all those attending will turn up so this was a first and all rather annoying!!!!
So what about the food well I am going to say it all went down rather well with some lovely comments and I will direct you to the following blog written by one of our guests who was in attendance on the Friday night. Check out Laura’s comments and lovely pictures here…
We rounded each evening off with the noodle demo and if you have never seen it then just check out this little video from last years dinners. Chef But has hardly aged!!!
The following comments from our guestbook say it all…
“What a marvellous experience, every course hit the spot and Mr But’s noodles perfectly formed!. Great Evening…” Claire & Graeme
“I did not like “Chinese” until tonight”…Mark
“Lovely evening… food was amazing and & atmosphere great… our 4th visit so expect nothing less! Thanks Hari”… Emma & Nathan
“We thoroughly enjoyed watching you get your noodles in a twist!!! Seriously what an excellent evening ! Fabulous flavours that came through each individual dish, an absolute delight – Thank You”… Russell & Ruth
The last comment means much to us as these guests travelled all the way from Chelmsford in Essex braving the M25 and the Dartford crossing on a Friday evening… that is what we call dedication to the cause!
Chef But has also left me three signed copies of his Memories of China Cookbook so if you are interested in purchasing a copy then please let me know via the following form. The cost of the book will be £10 plus P&P (£3 profit on the book will be donated to charity!)