Andrew Leonard – Diary for Lords of the Manor

Posted on June 10, 2015

DAY 1

I arrived into the kitchen and was immediately greeted by the Sous Chef Paul. My first job was to pick the Crab meat for the Crab starter, after this I was shown the entire Crab dish which consisted of the picked crab, mixed with crème fraiche, a potato mousse, brown crab jelly, brown crab mousse and an oyster emulsion, this was the stand out dish of the day for me, as it took simple flavours and really give a wow factor, it was also great to see the consistency and quality of the plating during service.

DAY 2

I was on the Pastry section with Paul, I aided him in weighing out and cooking the selection of yeast breads that were sent out with the appetisers. This was completely different for me as my experience with using yeast in breads with confined to my college days years ago! During service I was allowed to plate up canapés and then serve the breads to order along with the appetisers, which that day was a Jerusalem artichoke Panna cotta with a light chicken jelly and foam on top. This was exquisite when I was tasted it, it was an explosion of flavours in two mouthfuls.

DAY 3

I was on to the starter section with the Demi Chef de Partie Dan. My first job was to pick herbs. This was a long task but it was an eye opener for me as I saw the amount of attention to detail that went into every job there. I had to cut chives in exact measurements, pick dill that had three prongs and pick the leaves off thyme leaves. I then went onto prep the canapés for the evening. These consisted of creamed smoked Eel fritters with horseradish and pickled cucumber, Cheese filled Pastries with Parma Ham and Crisp Chicken skins, with Chicken jelly, Ham jelly Tarragon and Filo Brique tuilles. These were an amazing thing to see and they were packed with flavour in a tiny mouthful. During service I was plating up Canapés to order and was trusted to assist plate up the starters.

DAY 4

On Day four, I was back in the starter section. This time I was straight off picking herbs then straight onto the canapés again. This time is was Hazelnut creams with Parmesan Sable and Grated Parmesan, Foie Gras cigars and Beetroot with white balsamic. This was a good experience for me as I got to learn new techniques like making the cigar tubes out of Filo Brique, making a Foie gras parfait, and getting to use some of their Sosa products which are a range of molecular enhancement products. During service I was helping again to plate up the starters. I was able to refine the plating which is very precise and consistent and was able to do a proper swipe of their gingerbread puree (another new technique I learned). I was also keenly watching the Exec Chef Richard plate up and looking at the elegance of the presentation whilst I was sending appetisers and canapés.

DAY 5

It was time for me to do my competition entry for Chef. I started off by crisping my apple slices and setting my Panna Cotta. This was followed by making the Caramelised Apple Butter and prepping the main course. This was great as I was able to show Chef my own style of food that I was doing in Northern Ireland. I plated up the amuse bouche and main course and let him try it. He was reasonably impressed i think! He complimented the flavours and seasoning. He had a few small points about each course, eg adding another apple element to the amuse bouche and adding more veg and possibly a puree to the main course. This was fantastic advice as it gives me a opportunity to refine and perfect each dish using advice from a consistent Michelin star winning Chef.

DAY 6

Today I went in earlier with the Chef de Partie to help prep the fish order and to find out more about how they make their stocks and jus. This was a bit of a new experience as their methods of making stocks are slightly different to what I am used to. Also their finishing techniques were slightly different. But when I was able to taste the finished jus’ the flavour was mind blowing. That night, instead of the regular a la carte menu, the restaurant only offered a tasting menu which made service an awful lot easier and I was able to see more things happening around the kitchen, as each course went out all at once. To my amazement at the end of every course Chef also made me up an extra plate! This started off with their Crab plate, followed by a barbequed Stuffed Chicken wing with sweetcorn puree, followed by Turbot with wilted baby gem, farfalle pasta and a truffle butter emulsion. Main course was beef fillet with ox cheek ravioli, asparagus and the afore mentioned jus. Dessert then was Pistachio and Apple Cheesecake.

This really rounded up the whole week for as I was not only able to see , prepare and cook amazing foods, I was then able to taste it, and I can honestly say that it was some of the best food I have ever had in my life and i savoured every single mouthful.

After service I spoke to Chef and his team, thanking them for what was a fantastic week and thanking them for their patience and friendliness towards me. What an amazing experience and this is the exactly the type of kitchen i would love to work in future.

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