Thursday, April 29, 2010

The London Chef

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a private cookery class with The London Chef. Now based out of Victoria, B.C., The London Chef has been Rick Stein's Commis Chef, and a Sous Chef at Poissonnerie de L'Avenue in London. He has opened two restaurants, including a Fishworks location in London. In Victoria, The London Chef is teaching at various cookery schools, including Thrifty's Tuscany Village and French Mint. 

It's been a couple years since I've worked in a restaurant, and I had almost forgotten how great it is to watch a good chef working in person - he navigated the kitchen with Food Network calibre skills. Of course, the fact that the kitchen happened to be outfitted like Kitchen Stadium didn't hurt either. Overall, it made me want to get back into a restaurant. Something to consider in Paris...

His demonstrations and tips included knife sharpening techniques, how to properly filet a fish, when to season meat, what rice to use in a risotto, and how to dice efficiently. He even flaunted a skill that would make most home chefs nervous - how to dispatch a lobster humanely with Bear Grylls-like precision. His knowledge of how to handle various ingredients was nothing short of professional, and I left with pages of notes. As you can see below, the food was pretty good too.

Pan seared diver scallop on cauliflower and vanilla puree, with crisp leeks, beurre noisette foam and a balsamic reduction infused with smoked bacon and garlic

Sophie's special crisp cheese sandwich, served with fresh mayonnaise and cherry tomato ketchup

Classic white risotto, topped with sauteed asparagus and fresh greens

A melange of East coast shellfish in a Marseille inspired spiced cream broth

It's always a pleasure to be in a home with an impressive, well-stocked wine cellar - strong self control required 

Maintained at a strict 54 degrees, the cellar contained wines arranged by type and region

Swordfish steak charred with black pepper and sea salt on crushed new potatoes with salsa verde (London Chef specialty) and caramelized lemon

Pan roasted fillets of gilthead sea bream on a fennel, sweet onion and lemon zest confit with sauce vierge and herb salad

The paired wines were all Ontario based, and included bottles from StratusTawse, and Le Clos Jordanne.

That's the kind of night I could easily get used to.


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