Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to attend The Chefs Forum at the stunning setting of Hotel Endsleigh,
South West chefs – listen up! In today’s blog post I want to share my top four reasons why those of you looking to excel in the hospitality industry ought to be getting involved in the exciting opportunities The Chefs Forum has to offer…
What is The Chef’s Forum?
The Chefs Forum was born out of a desire to make a positive change in the hospitality industry. Their mission is to connect industry key players together (chefs, suppliers, managers and producers) at entertaining and educational events that are designed to showcase their talents.
You’ll find The Chefs Forum hosting events throughout the South, from London to Cornwall, Wales to Kent. Typically these events join forces with local catering colleges with the aim of supporting our next generation of young chefs; providing them with the ideal forum to find mentors, share ideas, get motivated and be inspired by advice from some of Britain’s top chefs. Previous events have included a day of cocktail innovations on board The Yact, London, and a demo-packed day at Exeter Cookery School, attended by over 70 Devon chefs (including Michelin-stars and Masterchefs from across the county).
So why should you get involved? Well, let’s see:
1. Amazing Locations: Hotel Endsleigh
Last weeks Foraging and Chefs Demo event took place at the strikingly beautiful Hotel Endsleigh; home to acres of beautiful woodland and Italian Head Chef Jose, who led a number of cookery demonstrations on the day. The restaurant at Hotel Endsleigh takes its inspiration from the surrounding countryside, serving dishes which combine the freshest Devon produce with an Italian philosophy. Meanwhile, the striking views and idyllic gardens made this retreat an ideal location for the spot of foraging that was to come.
Network, Network, Network.
When we first arrived at the hotel, we were given the opportunity to mingle with the other Forum attendees, while sampling some of the beautiful canapés made by trainee chefs onsite. The atmosphere at the event was very casual and while we were all given little name tags to wear (letting others known what restaurant they were party to) bubbles were poured and making conversation was easy.
If networking isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Conversation stayed lighthearted, and while plenty of business cards were exchanged, everyones passion for local food and hospitality took precedence. I for one certainly left with a long list of restaurants I was eager to try and hotels I wanted to stay at!
The first half of the day was filled with cookery demonstrations, courtesy of Hotel Endsleigh’s Head Chef Jose and his Sous Chef Francesco. The pair were really naturally in front of the crowd, and despite a couple of unforeseen technical hiccups, they kept us entertained as they demonstrated a couple of tasty dishes, made using fresh local ingredients.
Francesco demonstrated how to make gnocchi from scratch – a task which he made look effortless, but I suspect I would fail at miserably if left to my own devices – while Jose talked us through the best way to cook venison.
A Spot of Education: The Basics of Foraging
After we all had our fill of the demo dishes created by Jose and Francesco, we were off on a stroll through the hotel’s lovely gardens (a trip made all the better by the unexpected appearance of the sun!). David Harrison – an expert forager who picks edible plants for the likes of Simon Hulstone at The Elephant Restaurant – led our group on a highly educational talk about what plants you can forage (wild garlic, nettles) and what you shouldn’t really be doing when out on the hunt for edibles (note to self: no nibbling).
I’m glad they warned us in advance to bring our wellies, because areas of the walk were particularly muddy. However, it turned out to be a beautiful day overall and I for one left with a newfound appreciation for chefs who take the time to forage elements of their dishes.
When we arrived back at the hotel we were treated to even more tasty canapés – this time with an afternoon tea twist! I sampled lemon macarons, mini scones topped with jam and cream, tiny carrot cake bites and the cutest lemon meringue pies. This was followed by a quick competition amongst the students to see who could make the best gnocchi and then we wrapped up the day with goodie bags all round.
How to Get Involved!
If you’re a chef whose keen to meet other industry professionals, learn more about your trade and gain useful insights – you need to be getting involved with The Chefs Forum. Not only is it an incredibly fun day out, but I personally think that the option to network within the local catering industry and learn new techniques from top chefs is a really invaluable experience. These events would be perfect for chefs just starting out but I also think that experienced cooks would benefit from them too.
While this probably all sounds a trifle sycophantic, I honestly think that The Chef’s Forum is doing an incredible job making their events fun and educational, while retaining a clear business vibe too. Sign up to the next Devon event at Brixham and see exactly what I mean!
Find out more: www.thechefsforum.co.uk