Devon’s 2nd Chefs’ Forum event – A great success!


A selection of Devon’s best chefs, their suppliers and catering students turned out for The Chefs’ Forum’s second Devonian event held at Exeter College on Monday 3rd September by founders Catherine Farinha and Abby Allen.

The industry networking event kicked off with a champagne and canapé reception followed by brilliant demonstrations with by Devon food heroes, Simon Hulstone and Peter Gorton as well a chance to peruse the mini trade show set up in the College restaurant.

Chefs’ Forum founder Catherine Farinha welcomed guests to the event, focusing her speech on the importance of opening up channels of communication within the industry, maintaining that events like these really allow chefs and suppliers to showcase new techniques and share knowledge and experience.

Simon Hulstone followed with a fascinating demonstration using locally sourced Devon Scallops. Hulstone prepared and cooked a number of impressive dishes in front of the guests, serving the scallops in a variety of ways all presented beautifully as a real endorsement to Michelin-starred dining at its best. Peter Gorton teamed up with Mark Heyes of Wild Hart Artisan Venison to demonstrate how to bone-out a haunch of venison, explaining the benefits of different cuts and its cost advantage in comparison to the more popular and expensive saddle. Gorton followed by rustling up some wonderful canapés, using venison cooked on an induction griddle also being demonstrated to chefs by Urbane Professional.

After the demonstrations guests wondered among the trade stands, networking with the abundance of local Devonian suppliers and Chefs’ Forum sponsors. Suppliers included Wild Hart Venison, Clifton Food Range, Total Produce, Turton’s of Devon, Goodfellows, Urbane professional & Nisbets.

Catherine Farinha commented

“It was a wonderful day for everyone who attended. Devon is such a hub of fantastic talent and fresh produce it was great to see everyone get together and share ideas and create relationships. It was brilliant to see Exeter College students getting involved in the kitchen alongside the top chefs in Devon. It provided them with a great opportunity to see what it’s like working in a professional kitchen.”

Catering students at the college cooked the canapés for the reception, including very more-ish and deliciously light mini lamb pies and clean, refreshing scallop ceviche. Canapés were followed by fresh chocolates and petit fours, made at the college that morning with the help of 14 year old student Emily Tucker from Teignmouth School.

Holding events at local colleges such as Exeter highlight the importance of getting students involved in the industry at a young age. Hew Southcott, Deputy Head of Department at Exeter College, talked to the group about the catering qualifications the college offer such as NVQs and VRQs .

He commented

“We are really pleased that The Chefs’ Forum has extended its reach to Devon, Dorset and Cornwall and the students really enjoyed the day. It was an excellent opportunity for them to learn from industry experts”

Later this month, The Chefs’ Forum committee members Catherine Farinha and Peter Gorton are to accompany Huw to the Exeter Hoteliers and Restaurateurs meeting to discuss its contribution to the industry and how it raises the profile of the best local chefs and restaurants.