With the end of 2019 fast approaching we felt it was worth taking a look back over the year at some of highs and lows (a broken wrist – twice and a further leg injury have been an extra to contend with) of the year. Many will be aware that 2018 was a nightmare when I managed to break my femur badly in June 2018 so it hampered my culinary endeavours somewhat.
When 2019 kicked off the main focus of early 2019 for me was initially a dinner in May for a charity close to my heart Yalding Church Preservation Society (YCPS) – the “Take 6 Chefs” dinner took place in Oaks Restaurant at the Mid Kent College – Maidstone Campus – Six chefs had been invited to cook a special one off fundraising dinner in the college assisted by the students both back and front of house. It had taken a year of planning and the resulting event was an outstanding success and managed to raise the equivalent of two years worth of fundraising for the charity in one night.
For me what was so rewarding was the camaraderie and support the chefs gave us and their generosity along with all those who attended was just so much appreciated by the charity and the college as it gave the students a really unique experience.
In June we ran a new event that we hope will now become an annual one for us. We love to cook fresh pans of Paella and on this occasion we ran an alfresco event in an orchard at the back of Turners Cider in Marden – we had an added attraction in the form of some live music from the Ray Rich Band. Some fifty guests congregated under the fruit trees on a lovely early summers evening at the end of a what had been a very hit an miss week of weather. It was a great atmosphere and the whole event was much enjoyed. Hopefully to be repeated in 2020.
2019 has also seen some ambitious events for us – One in September was a “Culinary Challenge” conducted in a private house that was transformed for the event to become a team building exercise. With two chef mentors helping them to prepare and then serve up a dinner that had prepared by two highly competitive teams.
The other big event for us this summer was a trip to Scotland to the hugely picturesque Highlands and a week long gig of cooking for a private “House Party”. Circa twenty guests each evening were served with a range of canapes and then a two course dinner using some great local produce. From local Venison to some freshly caught Langoustines. It was a tough week for me all on my own and much thanks to the locals who helped out to ensure all were fed and well watered!
We have had some great meals out this year, for me the whole experience of dining out is vital to learn and inspire for future dinner events. A couple of trips to sunnier climates this year provided inspiration – some new venues for us equally provided some challenges.
A cheese fondue night in Tunbridge Wells at the Bicycle Bakery on Camden Rd was a sell out on two nights. We also had a sell out event in Ramsgate at the workshop of Harrison Ovens – a company that hand builds some beautiful charcoal fueled ovens.
The memorable meals of the year have been at a new Kent restaurant “The Bank House” in Chislehurst – a modern establishment serving small plates that are well executed and imaginative, a lunch at The Poet in Matfield with one of the Take 6 Chefs chefs was much admired and we are excited to be heading back to them to sample their Christmas Day offering on the 25th.
We are also off to The Small Holding in Kilndown for Mrs HC’s significant birthday that has already got our taste buds tingling, especially as Chef Patron Will Devlin has recently returned from visits to the USA and Copenhagen where his whole crew went to dine at Noma home of Rene Redepzi. I am sure we will be treated to some new and innovative ideas!
Return to old favourites like the “Orient” in Wardour Street in London and Joy King Lau for Dim Sum has ensured we have had our Chinese fix and now we look forward to some travels in early 2020 down under to Australia where we hope to eat and sup our way across this vast continent.
In fact we are already planning our events for 2020 to highlight some of the amazing people we have met during 2019 especially on the Scoff Quaff radio show that airs on the first Tuesday of each month. We have some exciting guest already lined up for next year and can promise a diverse range so please do remember to tune in to hear the Food & Drink banter live!
We have just one last public event of 2019 and are virtually full – please check it all out here