Tag Archives: Special Event

Take Five Cooks…a report

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well it was a chilly Thursday and it was chucking it down with rain as I pulled into the Car Park at Redbridge College in Essex. Not my normal stomping ground but I was there to assist a long standing friend with his desire to host a charity dinner with his local college using students and a group of chef friends. Hence the idea of Take Five Cooks was born and Ian Samuels the lead chef was about to see it all come to fruition.

It had been some five months in the planning and Ian had asked me early on to help in the project in a number of ways. I agreed as it has always been my intention to use my supperclub format and connections for charitable purposes and have over the years done some varied charity events etc. This event was to be the most complex and ambitious yet as apart from the assorted egos of the various chefs the challenge was to make as much money as we could for the two charities we were there to support.

The charities are not big well known ones and were very personal to Ian and we had to try make sure that we could raise as much money as possible. The dinner was to be a five course affair, each chef was to prepare a course and then also a canapé as well that would be served with the welcome drink to guests on arrival. We even tried to auction a table for six in the kitchen where guests could see first hand the behind the scenes action (alas no takers)

Well we had managed to sell a total of 39 places that ensured we had a pretty full house for the night. As I checked in and joined Ian in the kitchen we leisurely got stuck into the prep work and with a bunch of willing students who eagerly were doing a good deal of the donkey work for us! As time went by the other members of the brigade arrived, Paul Blackman – pastry chef from Le Talbooth arrived in a massive van and his prepped dessert – his inability to open the van with his own car keys got us all panicked but once unloaded he got on with plating up his dessert of vanilla panna cotta ready for later. Next to arrive was a giant of a man with his hipster beard Jack Boast the Head Chef of Galvins Cafe au Vin along with a former student of the college who now works for him.

Jack then got a few of the students busy filleting fish ready for his contribution and he prepped up his assorted charcuterie for his canapé… the clock was ticking and main course chef Gary Lee of the Ivy was still yet to appear. It was not until almost 6pm just half an hour before the guests would arrive for the welcome reception that he arrived with his assistant. He was relaxed and calm as they quickly started prepping the main course dish of roasted Somerset lamb stuffed with Black Pudding.

One chef alas unable to make the dinner was Matthew Bare as his 2nd in command had broken his leg so he could not get away from his work place. Ian stepped up to produce his contribution a chilled cucumber and mint soup shot.

So wooden boards piled with assorted canapés were delivered to the assembled guests and the evening got off to a start. There was a calm chaos in the kitchen as the chefs went about their final preparations.

The guests then sat and each charity made a quick welcome speech and the food started to come out, first Ian’s dish of pan fried scallops with textures of cauliflower, followed by the chilled soup shot. It was then Jack’s turn as they plated up the assorted Escabeche of Brixham Fish, Mackerel, Red Mullet, Megrim sole and freshly poached clams on a bed of carrots… it was proverbial production line of hands placing items on the plates and waiting staff then delivering to the table.

In amongst this it was yours truly function to get the crowd front of house digging deep into their pockets as we ran a couple of Head & Tails which all added to the fun and ensured the kitchen had time to get ready.

Next came Gary Lee’s main course dish, he gathered all the troops around him and you could see his leadership skills kick in as he demonstrated the plating up of his creation, a pea and mint puree base, fondant potato, slices of meat, carrots and finally some jus and a deftly placed pansy last of all. It was poetry in motion and all the time he was cajoling the troops and the moment he finished he made sure they all gave themselves a round of applause!

There was a real camaraderie amongst them all, especially evident when they all paraded into the room for what is commonly known as the “Santé du Chefs” to genuine warm applause. It was then my turn to run the auction of a range of donated items from a pastry Master Class at Le Talbooth with Paul to meal vouchers for The Ivy and an added bonus of a couple of cookery books and a half day in the kitchen with Gary – it was hard work trying to get the prices up but with some hilarious moments we managed in a few short minutes and some very generous donations to raise just over £4000 from this alone.
Paul served up his very pretty dessert and I completed the meal with my two favourite cheeses, Winterdale Shaw and Stichleton. That was it we had done it… there was a genuine warmth from all and as I drove back home it got me thinking how kind and generous the hospitality industry is. The chefs had come together, given up their time willingly and also managed to get virtually everything they had cooked with and served donated.

Guests had dug deep and supported two local charities that as one later said to me “Cannot even start to thank you for last night! Home-Start Colchester is a small charity and we do not receive many donations, so it is just amazing to be included in your fantastic efforts to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families.”

We raised a total of £6,260 that I know Ian and all involved were immensely proud of. I am also very grateful to those customers of mine that supported the event by hiring a mini bus and venturing from deepest Kent to Essex, bidding for items in the Auction and then a special mention must go to Paul Meyer Photography who gave up his time to come and photograph the event – his pictures are stunning!

What more can we say…

The charities we helped

Home Start – Colchester

Healthy Living Projects

March onwards…

We love a good glass of beer and we thought what could be a great theme for our March dinner event would be to pair up once again with Yudhistra Moodley of Moodley’s Craft Beer & Wine Making (we last hosted a dinner with Moodleyshim in January 2012) and this time are offering something a bit different. We have always loved using his beer especially in our beer bread.

Yudhistra only brews his beers to  order now commercially but he is however now selling “The Simple Beer Kit” mostly through Farm Shops  and local farmers’ markets including Tunbridge Wells Town Hall, Tonbridge, Aylesford, Hildenborough, Lamberhurst, Shipbourne Horsmonden , West Malling & Robertsbridge and then his web site on the Internet. All so you can brew your own high quality home brew using brewing quality ingredients. You can follow him on twitter @moodleyslimited or on Facebook at Moodley’s Limited

We have teamed up with him for our dinners on Friday 13th & Saturday 14th March when we will be serving a simple beer themed supper to our guests. We will also for each pair of guests be providing a simple beer kit for you to take home and try brewing yourself. Yudhistra will also be on hand each night to answer any brewing questions you may have on how to make a successful brew.

musselsFollowing a welcome drink and beer themed nibble we will kick the evening off with a bowl of freshly cooked fresh mussels cooked in a home brew and served with our now somewhat infamous beer bread.

We will then go onto the main course dish a classic pork shoulder stew braised in beer with carrots and onions. We will serve this with a herby bulgur wheat and some purple sprouting broccoli – a good warming bit of comfort food

Decadent Chocolate TorteFinally we will then serve a classic chocolate cake made with a dark beer that will be served with a compote of blood oranges and some mascarpone cream.

Then with coffee and we will serve some petit fours.

We think it will be a fun night with the added benefit of a take home beer kit with full instructions on how to make your own home brew, what could be better?

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £40 per person including for each pair a Moodleys Simple Beer Kit (retails at £30)

Service not included


Poached Fresh Mussels in Beer with Hari’s Beer Bread


Beer Braised Pork with Carrots & Onion

Herbed Bulgur Wheat

Purple Sprouting  Broccoli


Chocolate & Porter Cake, Blood Oranges & Mascarpone


Coffee & Petit Fours

To reserve your places please complete the booking form below and we will contact you normally within 24 to 48 hours to confirm  your places with a credit card number.

The final “O come all ye Faithful”….


Cancelled – sorry for any inconvenience

Our final supperclub event of 2014 is something a bit special for us… We have always wanted to do a “Pop Up” in central Tunbridge Wells and we can now announce we are coming to the town on Saturday December 20th.

We will be located in a space in Chapel Place (8a to be precise) where for one night only we will serve a special dinner. It will be a big challenge for us as we will have to transport a kitchen into the site and all the associated equipment.

We hope you will come along and support us and get yourselves intosanta1 the festive spirit…

We will kick the evening off with a welcome drink and some festive
nibbles then diners will sit down to a sumptuous four course dinner

Arrival:  7:30pm

Dinner:  Served 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation £40.00 per person (service not included)

Bring your own Alcohol – we provided water and ice buckets


Homemade Pork, Apricot & Hazelnut Terrine

with a home-made Seasonal Relish


Crispy Confit Duck Leg served on a

mixed bean & Spicy Chorizo Stew


Hari’s Selection of Cheeses,

Porridge Oat Biscuits & Homemade Banana Jam


Christmas Pudding Iced Parfait with a Red Berry compote and holly tuile biscuit served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes


Coffee or Hari’s Tea Blend with Festive Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability


Chef But to cook again at Hari Covert’s…

Noodles But

Well we are excited to report Chef Kam Po But formerly Executive Chef at Ken Lo’s Memories of China, Belgravia London has agreed to come back and present another two nights of his culinary prowess.

Chef But had been the Executive Chef of Ken Lo’s for some thirty years plus until his retirement a few years ago. He has been a friend for the same period and is god father to my daughter and we have done Chinese dinners in some truly amazing locations from the depths of the Hampshire countryside to the remoteness of the Isles of Scilly.

Chef But is a true master at blending dishes to be balanced in flavour, texture and colour. He has constructed a menu once again that will demonstrate all of this and to top it all off at the end of the dinner he will once again demonstrate the art of Hand Drawn Noodles. His skill in this is legendary as he has made countless appearances  on TV from The Generation Game to BBC Food & Drink and ITV This Morning.

This is a unique chance to sample some truly great Chinese food in a relaxed and sharing manner and will as always be totally oversubscribed!

We will kick the evening off with a welcome drink and simple nibbles before getting guests to sit down to a mammoth banquet. The meal will begin with a range of starters, Crispy Smoked Chicken served with Crispy Seaweed (not actually Seaweed), Sesame Prawn Toasts, Kuo-Tieh Dumplings – a little steamed pork dumpling that are then fried to give a crispy bottom served with a simple soy and ginger dipping sauce. Finally a baked fresh Scallop served in its shell with a piquant black bean sauce.

We will then serve a soup to guests – normally served at the end of a meal here though as a bit of a palate cleanser it will be a delicate Cantonese Hot & Sour Soup.

Next we will then serve what has become something of a signature dish for Chef But. Mongolian Crispy Lamb is a marinated braised leg of lamb that once cold is deep fried until crispy and served with a yellow bean sauce and lettuce leaves like the crispy duck and pancakes. It is a clever dish of textures and flavours and for many lighter than the Duck & pancake variety.

Moving onto the main course dishes we will then serve the following. Chef But will cook them and dish up as quickly as he can but they will generally come as and when they are ready. We will serve a Slow Cooked Beef Shin with water chestnuts. This is a real winter warmer dish and not found on your average Chinese restaurant menu, the beef shin is slowly cooked in a rich soy and spiced broth and then served with crunchy water chestnuts. Stir Fried Chicken Breast in a yellow bean sauce with crispy Almonds. Stir Fried King Prawns with Snow Peas (Mange Tout). Then depending on what we can purchase a fillet of fish done “Peking Style” in a light egg batter that is first fried then steamed with a sauce made from spring onions, garlic and ginger – the “Holy trinity” in Chinese cuisine.

We will serve a fresh vegetable either Pak Choy or Choi Sum (depending on our market purchases) topped with Oyster Sauce and some plain boiled rice.

To complete the meal Hari will be doing the pudding and he will showcase some exotic Asian flavour ice creams and sorbets from local producer Taywell Ice Creams. We will serve Jasmine Tea or if some want a coffee to complete the banquet.

Finally after all of this you will be treated to the hand drawn noodle demonstration by Mr But… this magical process is thousands of years old and we recommend you bring your cameras or phone cameras to capture it all as if you blink you will miss it.

Since we announced these dates spaces filled very quickly and we are now fully booked for both nights.

If you want spaces or be on our waiting list please complete the booking form at the end of this post.

Arrival  7:30pm – Welcome Drinks and assorted Chinese Nibbles

Dinner Served 8:00pm – prompt

Suggested Donation £55.00 per person service not included (Guests to bring their own wines/drinks – Glasses, Water and Ice Buckets provided.)


Sesame Prawn Toasts

Crispy Seaweed

Kuo-Tieh Dumplings (Pot Stickers)

Crispy Smoked Chicken

Baked Scallop with Black Bean Sauce

吃 嘛

Cantonese Hot & Sour Soup

吃 嘛

Crispy Mongolian Lamb with Lettuce Puffs

吃 嘛

Slow braised Beef Shin with water chestnuts

Stir Fried Chicken with Yellow Bean Sauce and Almonds

King Prawns with Snow Peas (Mange Tout)

Fish Fillet “Peking” Style with Ginger & Garlic

Chinese Vegetables with Oyster Sauce

Steamed Rice

吃 嘛

Assorted “Taywell” Asian Sorbet & Ice Creams

吃 嘛

Jasmine Tea or Coffee

Please complete the following form to reserve your spaces. Please note we are already fully booked for both Friday and Saturday and now only have a waiting list for cancellations or potentially a 3rd night.

More tea vicar…

Well following our disappointment with the Bell Inn at Ticehurst the next day was as I previously described was the difference between “Chalk and Cheese”

The day started with my Swiss friends managing firstly at getting lost with their Sat Nav and arriving somewhat late for a hastily arranged private tea tasting… It was one of my friends who is something of a tea fanatic and I thought what could be more unique than arrange a private tea tasting courtesy of master tea blender Alex Probyn of Shoreham based tea company Blends for Friends.

Alex has grown his business at a phenomenal rate over the last few years and what intially was a tea blending for individual customers is now by something of a monolithic giant in bespoke tea companies. He blends brews for clients around the globe from 5 star hotels to even other tea companies.

We arrived late but Alex warmly greeted us all and we got stuck into a quick (by Alex’s standards) tutorial on the differing types of tea.

Well a good hour later after a tutored tasting and a very informative tour of his set up we left with some great tea blends and more importantly I left with a supply of specially blended tea ready for the Vicars Picnic scheduled for August 30th in Yalding!

The Vicars Picnic Blend is a mix of three teas… Indian Assam, Sri Lankan Dimbula and a Chinese Yunnan… it is a fruity flavour in the style of an English Breakfast Tea that will go well with the planned scones, jam and clotted cream!

photo 1 (4)
The “Vicars Picnic” Tea Blend

The tea will be also on sale in retail packs to take home as well so you can have a lasting memory of the day!

Raindrops keep falling on my head…

Some of you may not be aware but as of Christmas Eve we were victims of the “Christmas Floods” and our home venue was seriously flooded… Our home was not expected to flood as it was built to withstand water levels akin to those seen in 2000 but on this occasion levels were a foot and half higher so we had some nine inches of flood water in our kitchen and dining area.


This has provided us with some rather daunting challenges – finding temporary accommodation for my wife and daughter that will be close enough to monitor renovations and then also not impact too much on our lives. We would also not be able to continue with our pop up dinners as this would be contravening our tenancy agreement in our temporary home.

So what is the solution?  Well we felt the best way to spread the word about this would be to turn to you, our existing and potential customers, by laying down the gauntlet.

We will bring the world of secret suppers to you.

The idea is this.  As we have previously done two nights together in our own venue we thought we would do Hari in your own place in a similar way – ideally a Friday and Saturday night with 12 diners each night although we can be completely flexible on numbers and days.  In return we would offer you 2 places free of charge each night we cook at yours.

We are happy to do this anywhere in Kent and will happily discuss the arrangements and appraise the feasibility with you directly.  We already have some very kind offers and will be putting together a diary of events in the next week or so.  We will once finalised then open bookings for all dates so it will be a first come first served!

If you should be interested in providing a venue then please complete the following form and we will contact you directly to discuss in more depth.

Hari Covert

PS The title of this post is because this is currently Mrs HC’s mobile ring tone… she is having a laugh!

Love and Peace… Hari goes retro


Friday 13th September 2013

Mixed Seafood Gratin


Pork Fillet “Cordon Bleu”

Grilled Tomato & Green Beans

Roasted Gnocchi


Danish Blue, Camembert

Banana Jam

Porridge Oat Biscuits


Crème Caramel


Coffee & Homemade Shortbread

NB: Menu subject to market purchases and alteration

Whilst sitting in a lakeside bar on my hols in the south of France with views of the foothills of the Pyrenees and Spain, I perused the menu and specials board in the bar and there were some classic dishes on offer that you will always seem to find on a French menu. I thought “If it ain’t broke why fix it” as the saying goes. So it got me thinking!

On my return I also got wind of an upcoming pop up “Boutique Music Festival” close to “HC HQ” that is helping to support a local charity “The Hospice in the Weald” that I have also in the past helped raise money for. I have been in touch with the festival organisers and felt this next months dinners should be something of a unique nature.

Firstly on the Friday night it will be a normal pop up at “HC HQ” with what I am terming a retro menu and then on the Saturday evening we are offering to provide some luxury picnics for attendees of the inaugural  “The Vicars Picnic” festival.

This new event is being held on the outskirts of the village of Yalding between Tunbridge Wells & Maidstone on private land. Talking to the organisers they have ambitious plans and also secured a stellar line up along with 90’s Brit Pop legend Mark Morriss of the Bluetones. There will be food available on site but they have kindly agreed for me to provide the following picnics to also 4597148356_708x731include a ticket to the festival!

There will be a limited number of what we are calling our “The Bishops Feast”… these will be a three course special menu of cold food served in your own returnable “Tiffin Box” and includes a Festival ticket.

We will also have a number of what we are calling “The Vergers Box” a simple salad box that will have three freshly made salads that will be perfect to eat along with the Hog Roast provided by the Smoking Hot Pig Hog Roast. Again it will include the price of a Festival ticket

So the menu for the Friday night will be what we are terming “1970’s Retro” and will include dishes that we think could be well up for a revival!

We felt a little mixed seafood gratin to kick the meal off would be a good start… we will serve it as individual portions as we have recently purchased some little paella shaped pans that will fit the bill perfectly so a cheese based sauce will be surrounded by some Duchesse potatoes and a mixture of seafood.

The main course will be a classic Pork fillet “Cordon Bleu” – a thin schnitzel piece of pork beaten out and then a slice of raw ham and piece of Emmenthal cheese inside a breadcrumb coating that is then pan fried. It will be served with a grilled tomato, green beans and roasted potato gnocchi.

Our cheese course will also feature some retro cheeses… A classic on the 70’s cheese board for it’s “exotic provenance” would have been a Danish Blue and Camembert… how times have changed! Of course our porridge oat biscuits will be served as well as some of our home-made banana jam, celery and grapes!

Finally we thought what would be a fitting finish is a classic Crème Caramel – a dessert still found on many a European menus and we will serve ours with a little whipped cream as an extra indulgence!

We will then serve coffee with some home-made shortbread as well.

Please note we will not insist on 70’s clothing! But if you want to then…

For the picnics “The Bishops Feast” (Limited Numbers) will start on the top layer of the “Tiffin Box” with some nibbles and our infamous home-made Beer bread.

The first course level will be a home-made tea smoked chicken & dried apricot brawn with herb cream and Melba toasts.

The main course layer will be some freshly Poached Salmon & King Prawns with a Garlic Mayonnaise and then a selection of home-made fresh seasonal salads.

Finally the dessert layer will be a Crème Caramel and a home-made chocolate brownie with fresh summer fruits. All served in your own returnable “Tiffin Box”.

“The Vergers Box” will comprise of three freshly made salads that will come served in its own disposable box with eco friendly cutlery and napkin that will go perfectly with the hog roast being offered on site.

All bookings for the Saturday “Vicars Picnic” will need to be made by 9am Wednesday 11th September in order for us to fulfil the orders.  

Both picnics as I said will also include a festival ticket and can be pre-ordered below. We will call you normally within 48 hours to take a credit card payment. Arrangements for pick up of festival tickets and return of the Tiffin Boxes will also be made on confirmation of purchase.

So all you need to do is choose which night you want to attend and then if coming to the festival which type of picnic you would like.

Friday 13thHari’s 70’s Retro DinnerSuggested Donation £35 per person

Saturday 14thThe Bishops Feast Picnic Suggested Donation incl Vicars Picnic Festival Ticket £35

Saturday 14thThe Vergers Box3 Freshly made salads + Hog Roast incl Vicars Picnic Festival Ticket £25

Please complete our Booking Form below. We will normally contact you within 48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number.

Going Underground again… well almost

It was a lovely balmy summers evening when I was driving up Wrotham Hill with the car loaded up with goodies for a return dinner at Winterdale Shaw.

Robin & Carla Betts the hard working and passionate artisan cheese makers were to host a couple of days of a cheese workshop for the “West Country Cheese makers”. This was a milestone for this little select group as I am led to believe this is the first time they will have ever held such a workshop away from the West Country.

Following on from our September 2011 event Robin was keen to provide something a bit different for these cheese gurus so he asked me to cook and serve a similar dinner to what we did back then. It was to be a relaxed affair and I am glad to say it was to be held above ground in a marquee to the side of the barn (erected for a public event a few days later) so the steep cellar steps were not an issue this time and the little kitchen we were to work from had a bit more kit as well.

So the menu we served was pretty similar to the previous one so we could showcase their cheeses. Firstly some nibbles of chilled gazpacho soup shots and deep fried cauliflower cheese beignets were the nibbles and then they all sat down to the first course of double cooked cheese soufflé topped with smoked haddock and some salad leaves. They also rather enthusiastically devoured a loaf of Moodleys Beer Bread which I have to say unsurprisingly garners rave comments every time I serve it!

Robin & Carla were also keen to showcase their nearby neighbours Free Range Pork (Roundwood Orchard Pigs) so a gorgeous four plus kilo joint of rolled Pork Shoulder was slowly roasted for some 5-6 hours and the skin crisped to perfection. Served with a gravy laced with dried apricots it provided a nice citrus kick to the richness of the tender meat and well between 7 hungry souls got just about completely devoured in one fell swoop! A gratin dauphinoise and medley of vegetables accompanied this.

Finally I served up the dessert that on Carla’s request was not the junket we served originally as she felt it was an acquired taste! So some soft squidgy home-made meringues were sandwiched with whipped cream with added lemon curd and then some “Mill Farm” strawberries. This again was polished off with gusto, these cheese gurus can certainly eat!

By this time gone eleven pm I was pooped and needed my beauty sleep as I had an early start the next morning with a breakfast meeting I left them to their final course of cheeses with my porridge oat biscuits. I was mortified I could not stay and sample some of the goodies on offer. There was one rogue but magnificent cheese on offer a rather runny Brie de Meaux that a rogue Frenchman had bought along ( I did not quite establish how he was part of this select group)

It was a fascinating evening as I listened into their conversations on the tribulations and trials of cheese making. The story of West Country floods and how one of them managed to write off his Land Rover Discovery by thinking they could cross a flooded road was hilarious and I believe made BBC news headlines much to his disgust.

The passion they all have for their chosen craft was evident in bucket loads and you should just click the links below for their assorted web sites to get a flavour of how serious they all are to produce a product we can all enjoy and savour. Robin & Carla can also be proud of their achievements of being part of this select group with some incredible history and I know it was also a bit of a double celebration as they had just managed to secure the long awaited planning permission to convert the upper portion of their barn to be living accommodation for them and their young children.

The Cheese Makers Workshop at Winterdal Shaw July 2013

Winterdale Shaw (the hosts|)

Westcombe Dairy

Keens Cheddar

Montgomery Cheddar

Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar

Up the Garden…


Welcome Drink & Nibbles

ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ

Apple, Potato & Smoked Haddock Brawn with Horseradish Cream

ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ

Fire Pit Grilled Marinated Meats & Fish

Assorted Seasonal Salads including a Green Bean Salad

Hot Buttered Minted New Potatoes

ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ

Hari’s Cheese Selection

Porridge Oat Biscuits

ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ

English Summer Fruits, Lavender Earl Grey Tea Sorbet 

Home made Shortbread Biscuits

ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ ﻰ

Coffee & Petit Fours

NB. Menu Subject to alteration & Market Purchases

Dates: Friday 12th & Sat 13th July

Welcome Drink: 7:30pm Prompt

Dinner: 8:00pm

Drinks: We will provide a welcome drink and glass of dessert wine with the pudding. Please bring your own drinks to have with your dinner. Water, Glasses and Ice Buckets provided.

Cost: We request a £35 Donation per person – Service is not included. We do prefer cash but will accept a card payment if we have to.

This months dinner will be an alfresco one… yes I know this is ambitious with an English Summer, but we will try to ensure it works and we will provide a covered terrace. With a couple of fire pits and blankets on hand this will ensure our guests are well cosseted. We would request guests bring or wear suitable clothing to ensure they are comfortable should the evening be a little fresh. We will also have a contingency to bring the meal indoors if weather is that bad. (We will keep fingers crossed)

We have therefore opened the bookings early as we will have a slightly bigger capacity with a maximum of 18-20 spaces depending on the table configurations and how prepared guests are at sharing.

It had been our plan to do a bigger “Pop Up” for this month in a lavender field. It was to be a mammoth event and a very big challenge! However because of some logistical issues we felt, to do it justice, we would hold off till next year!

We had already a menu planned so thought we would now use parts of this menu for our “Up the Garden” event.

To kick the meal off we will serve some seasonal nibbles with a glass of something chilled!

The first course will be an apple juice jelly set brawn of diced apple, potato and smoked haddock, which we will serve with a delicate horseradish cream sauce.

We will then have a selection of marinated meats and fish, that we will be cooking on our fire pit barbecue, and serving this with hot minted new potatoes and selection of seasonal salads. We will, of course, somewhere or other serve up some green beans… would be strange if not!

Our cheese course will then be served with our home-made and much admired porridge oat biscuits that will also be accompanied by our banana jam as well!

Finally the dessert will be a light refreshing finish, We will be making our own Lavender Earl Grey Tea Sorbet that will be served with a selection of summer fruits and a warm freshly baked shortbread biscuit.

Coffee and petit fours will complete the meal – all we can hope for is the weather will be warm and sultry to provide a perfect summer’s evening as the backdrop for our event.

Please complete our Booking Form. We will normally contact you within 48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number. If date required is “Fully Booked” please still apply for cancellations or unconfirmed bookings.

The next generation…

I have now for the past couple of years been asked by my daughters school to teach a Masterclass to year 10 Food Tech students. To try and give them a bit of realism and give them some tips and ideas on food preparation in a professional kitchen.

So this last week I duly arrived at Maidstone Girls Grammar School to prepare and teach a class of 20 students the intricacies of boning a chicken, making a new potato and spinach terrine and then finally having been given the “water” chocolate mousse recipe by Damian Allsop I felt it was of sufficient interest to also get them making this.

It was a packed day as I started off by showing them how to joint a chicken and stuffing its French trimmed breast ready for roasting and serving with a wild mushroom ragout.  The making of the terrine (a quiche without the pastry basically) and then presenting two finished plates to illustrate some presentation ideas.

Well I was impressed their teacher Mrs Meek was keen to give each girl a whole chicken to work with as this was no small cost. So as they all settled into first quickly making their own terrines and then boning their chickens there was a great deal of grimacing and  squeamish face pulling as they were made to handle the chickens. It is a sad state that we have become so anaesthetized by handling fresh unprepared foods so much. They did a remarkable job some obviously better than others but overall they all managed to produce a boned stuffed and rolled breast of chicken.

With the terrines now out of the oven and cooling down we then had chance to quickly knock up some Irish soda bread as well. There was not a spare 5 minutes to be had as I had set them a deadline of 12:30 to serve up the terrine and then the chicken so they could all sit down and eat together.

Well they just about did it… the classroom looked a bit like a bomb had hit it but overall it was a success and they all seemed to like the terrine and the “monster” sized chicken breasts also seemed to get devoured! The bread was a triumph apart from a couple of students who managed to forget that all important addition of bicarbonate of soda to act as the rising agent! I guess the reading of the recipe will be high on the agenda next time!

So fed and rested (a bit) the afternoon session kicked off with the chocolate dessert. We firstly had to blow up small water bomb balloons to act as the mould to make little chocolate cups that we could then use as a casing for the finished mousse. This required a large pot of chocolate melted and tempered ready for the balloons to be dipped and left to harden. I had warned them if the chocolate was too hot they had a tendency to explode! This they duly did on several occasions but overall we managed to get 20 plus balloons chilling!

The mousse was then started by melting chocolate over a saucepan of hot water (bain marie) and the egg whites were whipped to soft peak meringues with some added sugar and the chocolate was then emulsified with some water and agar agar mix. This all then combined ensured the mousse was light and the absence of cream means a much cleaner flavour. The girls all did an amazing job as it was all a bit unfamiliar and the cries of “I don’t like dark chocolate” were turned to “OMG this is a bit of alright” As I dished out some Damian Allsop water ganache chocolates to them all to sample and I showed them how to plate up the mousse and garnish. One girl presented a truly magnificent example that had a true “Faberge Look” about it and it even garnered praise from the man himself Damian Allsop via Twitter when he tweeted a few days later.

@emmamurphy_98: Well done to you too!! I wish i was there, but it looks like @MrHariCovert has it well under control ;-)

As the girls departed with their extra mousses for their family to taste at home and we tidied up and packed away I reflected they had done an amazing job in the time given. It was good to see them not only embrace a task they viewed with trepidation but also thoroughly enjoy foods and products they were unfamiliar with.

So next year will be a new challenge and we hope a new set of budding cooks will step up to the challenges we set them.

The recipes used can be found via the following links

Warm New Potato & Spinach Terrine with Chorizo Dressing

Irish Soda Bread

Chicken Breast with A Wild Mushroom Stuffing & Wild Mushroom Ragout

Damian Allsops “Water” Chocolate Mousse