Dorset & Hampshire Chefs Enjoy a Fifty Mile Menu at Elmers Court!

On Monday 23 July 2018, top chefs from across Dorset & Hampshire gathered at the beautiful Elmers Court Hotel in Hampshire for a day of menu inspiration, chef networking and hospitality industry chat.

Local suppliers showcased their wares from a fifty-mile radius of the hotel.  Hosting chef, Nik St. Peter welcomed his peers to the upscale retreat featuring a 19th-centuary manor, modern rooms and suites, a spa and classic dining under his direction.

Nik has big plans for the venue in creating a five-star-worthy food offer fit for a king.  Nik has manicured his own ‘Lavender’ kitchen garden and employs a variety of culinary techniques and flare to produce a highly impressive menu showcasing local produce.

Nik said:

“I really enjoy hosing The Chefs’ Forum and inviting my peers to see what we’re doing here at Elmers Court.  Its fantastic to invite such high-quality suppliers to showcase their products and produce to top chefs to enable them to keep up to dateJack Cook Butchery demo with industry menu trends and technology.  I love experimenting with and researching new techniques from the culinary greats and am constantly reading-up on new cooking styles.  Fermentation is my current area of interest and I plan to include elements in my menu, I was also very please with the level of interest in my confit duck egg that I showcased in my demo today – It’s great to share knowledge with other chefs!”

The chefs who attended very much enjoyed the chance to brush-up on their butchery skills with Jack Cook of Walter Rose & Son who demonstrated various cuts from a side of pork, explaining that there is absolutely no wastage with pork butchery and that everything can be used.  The expertly cut loin, chops and fillet Pork on the Synergy Grillwere then seasoned with Santa Maria rubs and cooked on the Synergy Grill by demo chef Claire Mansfield.

The Synergy Grill was also the perfect cooking machine to create mouth-watering delights as canapés for the visiting chefs including grilled courgette and mushrooms with Dorset Blue Vinny cheese, grilled halloumi and Walter Rose & Sons best-selling Saxon sausages!  Stokes Marsh Farm rump steak also made excellent skewers with Chilli and Cacao Santa Maria rub.  Welbilt UK added to the feast with delicious salmon empanadas and pumpkin tostadas expertly-cooked in the Convotherm mini combi oven by demo chef Paul Connell – No chef was to be left hungry after this banquet on their day off – It was great for them to be catered-for by The Chefs’ Forum as opposed to them doing the cooking – a complete role reversal!

Sam Guarino from Santa Maria invited the chefs aboard the legendary ‘Spice Truck’ and gave them a talk on why they should really care about the herbs and spices they use.  He is so confident in his high-quality product that he offered to givNick's demoe them a free container of herbs and spices if the chefs thought theirs was better!

Nik then performed a cookery demo on The Chefs’ Forum demo stage of rump steak tartar.  The only cooking involved was searing the steaks on the Monolith Kamado showcased by Living Outside on the terrace. Nik then dissected the delicious Walter Rose rump steak into tiny pieces and combined them with finely-chopped capers and onions, a merlot reduction, rosemary-cured duck egg yolks and lavender sour dough crisps to produce and excellent dish.  Nik also served a truly excellent canapé version of the dish on Great British Biscotti savoury Wild Garlic and Rosemary biscotti.

This was the second Chefs’ Forum event that Nik has hosted of the industry networking organisation. A previous event was held the HiNick's demo dish 1ghcliff Marriott in Bournemouth where Nik was Executive Chef. As Executive Chef at Elmers Court, Nik is delighted to put his expert stamp on the menu and loves cooking with local ingredients.

Chefs were also given a free trial of Gastronomixs, a new menu building tool for chefs as well as details of a free app by AHDB QSM Beef and Lamb to help chefs order the right cuts of meat and cost out menus.

Local fresh produce supplier Country Fare supplies Nik at Elmers Court.  Today’s Chefs’ Forum event gave them the opportunity to showcase the full Koppert Cress range and conduct a delicious ‘Strawberry Tasting’ session with New Forest Fruit Farm strawberries.

Strawberry tastingThe chefs’ expert palates were put to the test as they sampled six different species of strawberries in search of identifying their favourite.  The findings were very interesting indeed, with most chefs plumping for the ‘Murano’ variety as their firm favourite of the six!  The strawberries were further showcased as they were dipped in chocolate and served as a topping with Rodda’s Clotted cream for a delicious almond biscotti from Great British Biscotti based in neighbouring Christchurch, still in-keeping with the Fifty Mile Menu theme of the day.

Chefs’ Forum Founder Catherine Farinha concluded:

“I have been really impressed with the level of engagement from our chef guests in the demos and talks today.  The butchery, cookery demos and tastings were very well received by all who attended the eStrawberries on Great British Biscottivent today.  At this busy time of year, it is great for the chefs to take a day out of the kitchen to meet other chefs and talk about the latest menu trends and techniques.  There was also some great catering equipment on display in our mini trade show today.  We look forward to our next Hampshire event at Limewood on the 22nd October.”

The Chefs’ Forum continues to hold four events a year in Dorset & Hampshire.  Any chefs or suppliers wishing to get involved should contact Alexandra Duncan on 07870 584450.

Photo credit: Andrew Plant –