The Butcher and The Chef Showcase Cheaper Cuts and Sous-vide at Old Down Manor

Clever Chefs Use Cheaper Cuts: Sous vide proponent, Chef Chris Wicks joined forces with Walter Rose Butchers to showcase the benefits of using alternative cuts of beef steak. Old Down Manor was the venue playing host to the latest Bristol Chefs’ Forum which took place on Monday 20th April 2015.

Glorious spring sunshine drenched a backdrop of rolling green fields and the striking Severn Bridge. There couldn’t have been better weather for chefs to enjoy a guided tour of the stunning grounds: The culinary experts were led on a tour of the Victorian walled garden by Head Gardener, David Banks OBE, then onto the Old Down livestock with farm manager, Sophie Rudrum.

Students from Weston College, City of Bristol College and HIT TrainingThis event was particularly significant as it was run by the team who staged the first ever Chefs’ Forum event over an informal coffee and chat in 2010.  The need for an industry platform to link education to industry was established.  This then and facilitated communication between Bristol chefs who started and continue to share knowledge and best practice at quarterly events – Four years later, The Chefs’ Forum now holds thirty two chef events every year in eight regions across the south of the UK!

Weston College student with Chris WicksChefs’ Forum Founder Catherine Farinha, Chris Wicks (Executive Chef at Old Down Manor) and Adrian Kirikmaa (Chef Lecturer at City of Bristol College) took to the microphone to welcome local chefs and students and spoke of the importance of attending and supporting industry events like this.

It is career development and preparing students to be industry-ready that are the main driving forces of The Chefs’ Forum.

Chris Wicks and HIT StudentHospitality students at City of Bristol College, Weston College and Hit Training Academy gathered at this beautiful location to enjoy a day of networking with professional chefs, cookery demos and inspirational industry insight.  They also helped prepare and serve stunning canapés and Nyetimber English Sparkling wine to the chefs who attended. This showcased their impressive skills to potential employers.

Steak Tartare on a Global GS-80 Appetiser SpoonChefs enjoyed fabulous canapés created by Top Chef and Host, Chris Wicks showcasing Global GS-80 Appetiser Spoons:

Jack Cook from Walter Rose ButchersThe extremely well-attended event then saw a live beef butchery demonstration by Jack Cook, of Walter Rose & Son.  The fourth generation butcher showed how Bavette, Onglet and Feather Blade steaks are cut and are a credible, tasty, versatile alternative to the more expensive fillet, rib eye and sirloin steaks.

Guests enjoyed a sous-vide cookery demonstration by Executive Chef Chris Wicks, a real proponent of this scientific cooking-style.

Chris stated: “The economy often dictates which cuts of meat are more fashionable at any given time.  I am totally converted by this style of cooking, I previously used the ‘pan to oven’ method but on discovering the Clifton Food range water bath, I learnt that I could not only create consistent portion sizes but standardise quality in every dish served to every guest.  The water bath is a truly amazing piece of kit and should be part of any professional kitchen.  Tenderisation of cheaper cuts is absolutely achievable and the finished result goes down a treat with customers!”

Monolith Kamado GrillAnother school of thought, fast and furious live-fire-cooking, was demonstrated in cooking the same three steak cuts on the Monalith Kamado Grill. These ceramic ovoid BBQs seared the marinated steaks to perfection and they were served to chefs in bread rolls, after all, it was perfect BBQ weather!  Again the students were shown how to cook on market-leading ceramic grills.

All canapé and demo ingredients were kindly sponsored by Total Produce and Walter Rose Butchers, driving down the food cost of staging these crucial networking events for the next generation of professionals.

An altogether enjoyable day was had by all who attended and it was a great show of support for the local hospitality industry.

Photography by Craig Howarth: