Favourite Tables

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What is FirePod

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On our recent visit to the Taste Of London held at Tobacco Docks in East London we came across an innovative product that was conceived high in the Italian Alps. The Firepod is a gas-powered stone-baked pizza oven. It’s portable, easy to clean, and makes perfect pizzas in minutes. But this magical piece of kit is much more than that!  If you’re not in the mood for pizza, simply replace the stone with a griddle for cooking sausages, pancakes and the like. You can even use it to boil a kettle for a cup of tea. How versatile is that? Coming very soon is a Lava Stone which can be used in situ, or heated up and taken to your table for cooking on.

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The evening of our visit it was very cold in London. However, the guys on the FirePod stand were very enthusiastic about these colourful little ovens. We did suggest that they may think about having a couple running to warm the cold night air…and give away a few “perfect pizzas”

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‘Anyone for pizza?’ is a question that’s rarely answered with a no, but, more often than not, we’re presented with a disappointing, doughy wedge. It doesn’t have to be this way – just take it from David Coward and Tim Henderson, Firepod creators and pizza lovers.  Ski instructing in the Italian Alps, David noticed how often colleagues and customers would skip a four-star fine dining in local restaurants and head out instead for a pizza. Why was that? Why are those pizzas so irresistible?  He made it his mission to find out.

He discovered three things: Firstly, of course a great pizza needs great ingredients. Secondly authentic pizzas get their uniqueness from the use a real stone oven base, and finally each pizza must be baked in roaring hot temperatures. With that information at their fingertips, David and Tim teamed up with an award-winning Surrey based product design company. After two of years of designing, testing, modifying and perfecting, The Firepod emerged. Having a porous stone base FirePod absorbs moisture giving you that sought-after crispy crust. As for temperature, the innovative design can achieve the needed 600°F – 650°F (not hotter as is often believed, the dough needs to time to rise in the oven) for perfect pizzas whereas a regular household oven reaches only around 400°F.

Lady FT is hankering for one – so it won’t be long before it’s in FT Towers…….

If like us you are captivated by this neat product and you want to assist FirePod get off the ground, why not help them with their Kickstarter program. The team are ready to go and looking to start shipping early 2017. The funds from Kickstarter will help accelerate matters.

You can find out more here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/18616555/the-firepod

 

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Autumn/Winter Newsletter for Restaurants

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Click Here for the latest Favourite Tables Newsletter

  1. The Roster of Great Restaurants Continues to Grow

  2. Now in their third year on Favourite Tables

  3. Chef’s Table a very popular Read

  4. Some great restaurants and gastropubs are “not on the high street”

  5. #FTbadboys a fun Twitter Photo Competition

  6. Coming soon FTbadboy Burgers and Sausage Rolls

 

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Chef’s Table talk to Chef Patron of The Painted Heron, Yogesh Datta

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It was in his native India where Chef Datta first discovered his natural flair for cooking and where his talents as a chef were first recognised. His career began as a young man in Delhi, where he became well versed in Indian culinary traditions at the PUSA Institute of Hotel Management.

His culinary journey continued as he honed his expertise at India’s prestigious Taj Palace Hotel. It was whilst here that he first received training in the more classical European kitchen methods and where he first began to develop his own unique Indo-European cooking style.

His restaurant and chef experience was further enhanced when he moved to study at the International College of Hotel Management in Switzerland.  In Geneva, he worked for a time at the Metropolitan hotel. He then moved back to India, to the historic City of Jaipur, in Rajasthan to take up the Head Chef position at the Hotel Mansingh, followed by a stint as Executive Chef at the Hotel Maharani Palace.

Following a successful spell in Dubai from 1996 – 1998, Chef Yogesh arrived in London to take up a challenging position as Head Chef at Tabla restaurant in Canary Wharf, London. He was tasked with “turning round” this once popular restaurant. This he did and it was whilst there that his style of cooking became influential in its own right and was brought to the attention of successful local business man and regular customer Charles Hill. During 2000 the pair teamed up to open their own restaurant, Charles having recently acquired a suitable property in Chelsea. At the time the building was being used as a french style brasserie but had fallen out of favour with customers. The pair’s confidence of creating a success was helped by the history that the building had housed restaurants since 1953.

2002 saw the opening of The Painted Heron in Cheyne Walk and in 2012 it celebrated 10 years as one of London’s finest Indian restaurant with numerous accolades being bestowed including AA rosettes, best restaurant and best chef awards.

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FT asked Chef Datta: What he felt about accolades and in particular his thoughts on Michelin Stars,

CD: Every chef and restaurant owner wants to know that they are serving customers to a high standard and that the customer is happy. The Painted Heron has always had great feed back and whilst we are listed in the Michelin guide a star is probably not something we could achieve, we’re not setup for that. Over the past 14 years since The Painted Heron opened, online and social media have played an increasing part in the types of feed back restaurants like ours receive. In the most part it has been very positive, however, talking directly with customers is still the best way to understand how they feel about the experience they have just enjoyed.

FT: You have lived and worked in some interesting cities around the world, why have you settled in London.

CD: London is just an amazing place to work as a chef and I have been lucky enough to be able to work with and influence many up and coming young chefs. Some of these have gone on to achieve great things here in the UK or even back in India taking what they have learnt back with them and changing local perceptions of dishes. Others have stayed with us here and are now in their 10th year cooking in London. Our Head Chef is someone I have known and worked with for nearly twenty years.

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FT: When The Painted Heron first opened, the menu changed almost every day and the relationships with local suppliers was crucial. How has that changed?

CD: When we first opened, The Painted Heron was considered ground breaking and we were as far as Indian cuisine was concerned, with our daily changing menus and the freshness of the meat and fish we used. The menu development has now settled down and we are more influenced by seasonal focused changes now. However, the great relationships built with local butchers and fishmongers has continued and this helps us source incredible ingredients when they are at their best.

FT: You have talked about getting the best ingredients and the freshness of produce used in your menus, is there any foods that you won’t eat.

CD: Not really I will try most things and I think that is to do with the chef in me. However I’m really not keen on raw meat or fish. I much prefer eating well cooked and properly seasoned foods, adding the correct spice to enhance flavours. How food is cooked is very important to our style here at The Painted Heron. We have recently invested in a Josper Grill to add another level of flavour to the meat and fish we cook and also it allows us to create a “tandoor” feel to a wider variety of different ingredients that would be difficult  in the traditional clay oven. New dishes are being introduced to the menu over the coming weeks including a Black Cod dish.

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FT: So Chef, as with all our Chef’s Tables, we love to know where you like to eat when you have time away from the kitchen. So where are your favourite tables?

CD: I Have been many times to St John, Smithfield’s and really enjoy the style of the restaurant and the food. Great ingredients, cooked well and presented in relaxed environment.
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And since it open the Chiltern Fire House, Marylebone has been a regular place for me to visit especially with family.
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Favourite Tables at the Italian Embassy…again!!

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Imagine our excitement at being invited to the Italian Embassy again ( Chefs Table with Danilo)

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The occasion:  MasterChef The Professionals 2015 finalist and head chef at the Italian Embassy in London Danilo Cortellini would be launching his new cook book

 

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‘4 Grosvenor Square’, the first cook book from Danilo Cortellini is a celebration of his time at the Italian Embassy in London, featuring recipes that reflect the day-to-day life at the Embassy; from business lunches to grand gala dinners and family meals to drinks receptions.

The reception was attended by world famous chefs, television celebrities, food writers and critics who all welcomed the fresh approach Danilo has applied to his book. Chef’s family and friends where also on hand to lend support.

 

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The hardback book contains authentic Italian dishes using some of the finest produce available. Featured dishes include some of the Ambassadors personal favourites; multi-coloured burrata tortellini with Sicilian red prawns in a smoked artichoke broth; Veal Cheek “pizzaiola”, and a Pumpkin panna cotta with apples and mosto cotto.

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You can read about Danilo’s culinary career in his “Chef’s Table Interview

The book is divided sections that reflect the running of the embassy based on style of occasion instead. This provides an insight on how Danilo plans his menus at the Italian Embassy, and how certain recipes are perfect for particular events. If you are looking to impress someone at home, each dish is applicable to home cooking and home kitchens. Nothing is regimented in this book, and Danilo encourages you to experiment and interpret dishes and elements of recipes as you like.

Danilo says: “I never underestimate the comforting side of food and cooking is truly an act of care and love. He is a great believer in using quality produces and also an advocate of not wasting food. A section of his book is dedicated to supporting the food charity Food Cycle (@foodcycle) and the work they do supporting people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

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Despite no Ferrero Rocher.. the evening was a great success and we wish Danilo every success with his book “4 Grosvenor Square” – the address of the Embassy if you were wondering.

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4 Grosvenor Square is published in English and Italian and available for pre-order from Amazon now with general released on 30th November from Waterstones and all good book shops. RRP: £25.00.

 

 

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A day at the beach with Chef Lee Redman

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Favourite Tables talks to Chef Lee Redman of the newly opened The Jetty at Brighton’s Harbour Hotel for “Chef’s Table”

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FT: are you a born Chef?

Lee: it does feel like that! I’ve been in kitchens since the age of 13. Like most teenagers, I wanted more cash in my pocket, so took on a weekend job working in a local pub. Like a lot of chefs I talk to, I started as a pot washer and stuck at it… it must’ve been the £3.15 per hour! Then slowly I started learning how to prepare and cook (I remember endless amounts of peeling and sorting parsley!) Once, when the owners were away, the agency chef covering messed up and from then on I got more and more involved in the kitchen.

FT: How did thing progress for you?

Lee: I completed a three year course at a local college, 2 years studying an AVCE in Hospitality & Catering Industry, then a further year completing Level 3 NVQ Practical Cookery & Food Service. I moved from that first pub to a local bistro/restaurant and then to a local hotel. I landed my first Head Chef job at the very young age of 22 at a beautiful gastropub near Arundel and retained 1 Rosette, before moving on to London as it was always a wish to further my knowledge working there.

Here I started working at The Stafford Hotel  in St. James’s as Junior Sous. After three years moving to The Bluebird in Chelsea which is a 2 Rosette Brasserie, then on to Galvin at Windows  in the Park Lane Hilton which has 1 Michelin Star and 3 Rosette where I ran the the fish section.

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FT: Who has influenced or helped you along the way?

Lee: After a few years in London the Head Chef from The Stafford Hotel, Chef Mark Budd, approached me. We had worked really well together and our styles of cooking complemented one another. Mark asked me to come and work back in Sussex as his Senior Sous at Alexander House Hotel & Spa. Here I was given the opportunity to work across the kitchen and we took the Hotel from a 4 Star to 5 Star, and the restaurant to 3 AA Rosettes, whilst retaining 1 Rosette in the Brasserie

FT: Would you say you are settled in your style and how would you describe it?

Lee: I would say my approach to food is to always strive to get the best out of the ingredients, from sourcing the correct quality and as local as possible through to executing precisely on the plate. My style would have to be classic French / British with modern touches.  As to being settled, I will focus on the classics, however I am keen to learn new techniques and styles and will incorporate those that can help me deliver exciting seasonal dishes with great flavours to our customers.

FT: How did you find yourself working in Brighton?

Lee: I believe I have built a good reputation working within Hotel restaurants and was approached about the possible position of Head Chef for what would be a totally refurbished Brighton Hotel, which had me already interested.  When finding out the group was Harbour Hotels, it was literally a no brainer. The company is extremely well set up with good solid knowledge through all departments in all venues, award winning & great place for a chef. We have developed a great menu and I am lucky in having an incredibly talented brigade working with me. The Jetty has really achieved incredible results and we are getting full services every day and incredible customer feed back.

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FT: What are your favourite dishes to cook at home and in the restaurant?

Lee: That is a hard questions for any chef to answer because of using seasonal ingredients and what’s available……….You’re not going to let me away with that answer are you….

OK, If I’m cooking at home for my wife then it has to be my Beef Chilli and I add a few squares of dark chocolate (trust me!) It has to be good quality chocolate I use Valrhona

In the restaurant the best dishes are those when you don’t do too much to the signature ingredient. I love to use Hand Dived Scallops and my favourite dish is Scallop, oyster emulsion, oyster leaf, oyster foam, tempura cockles, razor clam, pickled kohlrabi, seaweed butter. It is great to eat and really keeps the freshness of the sea.

FT: now chef, where are your two favourite tables, the restaurants you like to visit when ever you can?

Lee: Locally I’ve been eating at one of the restaurants belonging to a small group called the Gingerman company, the Ginger Pig in Hove is a real favourite at the moment, great menu, lovely presentation and flavours with all locally sourced produce and clever usage of it.

When I get up to London then it’s Gilgamesh right by Camden Market. The presentation of the food is just brilliant and so fresh. As it’s Pan-Asian you can have dishes from across the region Sushi, Dim Sum, Tempura and Wok dishes

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FT: When we asked if you were a born chef you laughed, can we ask why…..

Lee: Ah you noticed.. I know many chefs would say they were inspired by their Grandmothers or Mothers and in a way my mum did get me interested in cooking, it was a survival thing………..(her cooking was terrible). please don’t send this to her!  But she did burn most things and then just flip it over and dish it up, sorry mum! So I was inspired to to become a good cook……my mum still tells me how to cook when I visit, thanks mum!

 

 

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Mash London

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I am very keen to eat steak if it is good quality. Mash London does not just deliver the quality, but also the option of meat from different countries (see website for more information) in a lovely atmosphere that reminds me of the setting of the Restaurant of the Titanic.

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I can never get tired of a really quality made steak, that is why I keep coming back. Mash London, Steakhouse with a Danish twist my regular dinner location that I recommend.

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Adam Gray and B&H’s cocktails – a perfect combination!

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Cocktails paired with food – what’s not to love.  Mr FT and I had the pleasure of dining at Adam Gray’s new culinary home and what a gorgeous new home it is.  Adam is bringing his inimitable brand of wonderfully prepared food to the B&H home, which will bring a welcome addition to this very classy establishment.  The bright and busy main bar area, beautifully decorated, leads into the main restaurant area where gorgeously comfortable chairs gives you a view into the atrium, offering an intimate, warm room to dine in.

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The welcome is just as classy as the place itself and the service, discreet, knowledgeable and so enthusiastic at what Adam is doing, has obviously created an already solid team spirit.

Cocktails – oh my!! Figberry Jazz – please spoil yourselves when you visit! Uber yum and I am afraid to say has replaced my beloved mojito!  But, the cocktail team at B&H ask why deny yourself the opportunity to try another specially selected cocktail that will perfectly match your chosen menu.  So how could we refuse!

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The sublime rabbit and hazelnut terrine with cox’s apple and rainbow carrot salad was paired with the Three Wise Men, triple malt scotch, vermouth and Campari stirred with prune liquor.  Wisdom may not prevail if you have more than one of these.  The warmth and hint of sharpness cut through the richness of the rabbit complementing the dish completely.

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Mr FT’s starter of poached salmon with crisp fennel, lime salad and yogurt dressing arrived with a Quincy Collins, Rathbone’s New London Dry Gin, with quince liquer, fresh lemon and soda.  Like the dish itself, this was clean, crisp and fresh.

Adam’s determination to use ingredients that he sources and trusts is something that is obviously of paramount importance to him.  Great produce, beautifully cooked was the thought that came to mind when presented with a roasted Cornish plaice, which had arrived that very morning.  The parsley sauce, iron rich, cut through the soft plaice whilst never detracting from the beauty of the dish itself.  Served simply with some rainbow chard, no extras were needed.  No cocktail this time, but a glass of Plo d’isobelle Picpoul de Pinet, a gorgeously rich wine from the Languedoc.

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To Mr FT’s delight, the roasted saddleback pork chop, served with black pudding (which he could not stop talking about!) served with carrots, apple and port gravy made him very happy!  All I saw was an empty plate (apart from the chop bone!)   A beautifully crisp Petit-Chablis was well chosen to complement this dish.

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In between all of this gorgeousness, we had the added bonus of the equally gorgeous Nicki, another recent addition to the B&H family.  It was one of those times where you feel as though you have known one another for ages which is no doubt part of her charm and I feel we may have taken up far too much of her time talking about much more than food and restaurants!  One thing which did delight us was the fact that dogs are welcome in the bar area – which is great news for our cockapoo Alfie, who loves to be out and about and be admired.

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