Devon Chefs Enjoy a BBQ and Braai at The Deer Park

The Chefs’ Forum was delighted to return to the stunning Deer Park Hotel near Honiton yesterday for a fabulous day of cookery demos and a show-stopping braai in the new outdoor kitchen. MD Mark Godfrey has transformed the country house into an amazing events and wedding venue with chef Richard Thomas-Still at the helm in the kitchen.

Serving canapesThe event began with a canapé and fizz reception, with the canapés prepared by Head Chef at Deer Park, Richard Thomas-Still, with the help of learners from South Devon College. The involvement of students and apprentices is a key element to the Chefs’ Forum events, and Richard was full of praise for the young people.

The canapé menu comprised:

Dessert CanapesThe students all worked hard to assemble and served the canapés to the culinary guests who attended and impressed all who attended by perfectly remembering the delicious canapés being served.

Richard said:

“I was really impressed with the way the students got on with the task in hand and produced fantastic canapés for top local chefs who attended.  I really enjoyed sharing the fantastic facility we have here. It was great to work with the next generation of chefs who show great promise.”

Two South Devon College students were approached by employers with job offers which showed their professionalism and talent shone through on the day.

Chantelle (L) and Maddy (R)Level two student, Chantelle Cockram (left in adjacent photoh) was one of those offered a trial shift, Chantelle really enjoyed her first Chefs’ Forum event, she said

“Today has been very different to the environment I am used to at college.  The kitchen is much smaller and we really had to work as a team to assemble and get the canapés out today. I live in Torquay and I am delighted that a restaurant near to my house has invited me down to see them – I really enjoyed my work experience here at Deer Park Hotel.”

Lewis demoThis was followed by seventeen-year-old Commis Chef Lewis Nicholas taking to The Chefs’ Forum demo stage to showcase a signature mackerel starter.  It was both chefs’ first ever demonstration and to a tough audience of peers. Both chefs did an amazing job and Richard left as soon as the demo was finished to prepare the braai for the culinary guests.

All quality ingredients for the demos and the canapés showcasing the Deer Park menu were supplied by Chefs’ Forum Sponsors Total Produce and Two Brothers Foods.

Guests then gathered on the terrace for a demonstration of the energy-saving Synergy Grill by demo chef Claire Mansfield.  The guests were shown how the grill can half cooking Claire on Synergy Grilltime, whilst sealing in moisture for excellent results.  The grill is also Vegetarian Society approved, which attracted a great deal of interest from the crowd.

A spot of laser clay pigeon shooting was then in order, which proved a real hit with the chefs as they competed to achieve the best shot and the worst shot, with a prize being awarded for each.

The chefs worked-up an appetite for the braai that Richard was preparing in the garden and the chefs were in for a real treat!

Pochette cooked on the braaiBeef ribsRichard and his team had worked tirelessly through the night to prepare a feast in his ‘no-expense-spared’ outdoor kitchen.  On the Authentic South African Braai he cooked spit roast pochette with a walled garden herb sauce, venison loin wrapped in a red wine soaked cloth ‘lomo al trapo’, dirty veg cooked on the coals and Deer Park Bread.

On the smoker he cooked home smoked BBQ short rib of beef served with chipotle mayo, red cabbage slaw and celeriac.

Catherine Farinha, founder of The Chefs’ Forum concluded:

“Whilst we try to keep chefs updated with the latest industry techniques, equipment and trends, it’s also good to allow chefs to relax and socialise with other chefs on their day off – Laser Clay Shooting at The Deer Park really enabled them to do this and the feedback from attendees has been really positive – We are very much looking forward to our next Devon event which will be a fundraising college lunch on the 26th November at City College Plymouth.”

The day finished with Head Gardener Olly Forster (and dog, Fern) giving the chefs a tour of his beautiful walled garden.  Olly kindly gave the chefs seedlings and cuttings to take away with them and Richard and his team a delicious culinary memory to hold forever.

Photography by: