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No such thing as a free lunch…

By 18th June 2010July 27th, 2023No Comments

Guild members invited to the presentation of the Guild’s Perkins Power on the Farm journalism awards were treated to a splendid lunch – but some had to roll up their sleeves and work for it!

The itinerary at The Ritz hotel in London included an exclusive tour of the kitchens during a busy lunchtime service by executive chef John Williams. After that, guests were invited to the small private dining kitchen for a demonstration of how each course of the awards luncheon was prepared and cooked – with audience participation encouraged.

“This really was an enjoyable experience,” said Guild chairman Nick Bond when he thanked Perkins for sponsoring the award and hosting the event. “Enjoying a meal at The Ritz alone would have been very special; being involved in its preparation made it exceptional.”

Rachael Porter of Cow Management – the 2009 winner and one of three judges for this year’s award – helped prepare the lobster starter.

Perkins marketing director Nigel Baseley tackled the roast duck according to a method originated by famous French chef Escofier; and 2010 award winner, freelance Peter Hill, donned full chef’s whites to whip up – if that’s the correct term – an apricot soufflé!

Concentration required – Rachael Porter
prepares lobster with executive chef John Williams

Freelance Peter Hill looks the part – but
that’s about all……

… he attempts to put a finishing touch
to an apricot soufflé

The 55 chefs in The Ritz kitchens produce up to 1000 meals a day, including the hotel’s famous afternoon tea. For this, three staff members assemble 2500-3500 sandwich fingers and rolls, while others make 3000 individual cakes and fancies, plus 1200 scones.

“We make everything fresh on the premises,” said John Williams, “including bread, pastry and hand-made chocolates, as well as the sauces for the lunch and dinner dishes, of course.”

He enthusiastically endorsed the standard of British farm produce and fish, which he uses for as many ingredients as possible, and declared a special interest as chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts, which together with the National Sheep Association, runs Mutton Renaissance, the campaign to restore mutton to restaurant menus.

“I’m passionate about sourcing ingredients from British farms,” he said. “There is still room for improvement in some areas but we have some outstanding meat, fish, shellfish and vegetables.”

And cheese, it seems. Stinking Bishop, produced by Guild deputy chairman Adrian Bell’s father-in-law in Gloucestershire, is the best on the Ritz cheeseboard, John Williams declared.