One of our biggest undertakings of the year is without doubt the writing of the banqueting menu. At the moment we are right in the middle of the main of period of menu writing, but the process started months ago and will continue for a few more months to come. To be honest by the time the new menu comes into operation in January 2017 it will feel like an old friend and we will be comfortable and confident with our new dishes. Strange as it may seem, the process of creating the next year’s menu starts with the first function of the year in January. We will be looking at the customer’s menu choices to see what information we can learn. Have they gone for the new dishes or stuck with what they know? What combinations have they chosen? Are they choosing safe options or being bold?
Catering for me is bit like watching one of those massive passenger aircrafts taking off. Hundreds of tonnes of people, metal, luggage and fuel taking to the air being held up by nothing more than air pressure, something you can’t even see. Everything about it says that it should work but you have to grudgingly accept that it just does.
Likewise everything about catering says that disaster is waiting around every corner but 99% of the time all the parts that are moving in different directions suddenly come together at the crucial moment and the day is saved. So what do I mean by moving parts?
I am delighted to announce that Charlene Basan has officially taken over as Head Chef and my new No.2 after nine years here at One Great George Street.
Charlene was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where she grew up with her older sister Rene.Charlene’s father is a Civil Engineer and her mother ran several businesses including a building supply company so perhaps Charlene was always destined to work at the Institution of Civil Engineers HQ?
After studying Business Management, Charlene had a career U-turn and decided to pursue her first love which had always been cooking.
To my surprise I am often asked if I go down to the food markets in the morning to buy the kitchen’s produce for the day’s business. When they ask me I’m sure they have visions of me strolling through a French style street market in the soft but bright glow of early morning sunlight with a flat wicker basket over my arm exchanging pleasantries with Pierre the butcher and Jacques the fishmonger: so tell me monsieur, what blessings has Mother Nature delivered you from the ocean this fine morning? Loup de mer? Wonderful, I shall create a wonderful special on the menu this very lunchtime.
I am sure that there are some small, stand-alone restaurants where something similar to this may happen, but this rose tinted illusion is the creation of T.V. chefs with heavy ladles of artistic licence for dramatic effect…
What do I mean by non-negotiable deadlines?
Well, in the kitchen there is no chance of getting away with lame excuses when it comes to serving up food.
Our customers are, quite rightly, very demanding when it comes to food service, and if I say that we will be serving ‘this meal’ at ‘this time’, then that’s how it has to happen…