The Chefs’ Forum at The Sheraton Grand, Park Lane

The Sheraton, Park Lane played host to London’s Summer Culinary Showcase yesterday, which saw over seventy chefs from across London gather in Mercante restaurant for a day of world-class gastronomic acrobatics!

Students prep canapes 2Students prep canapesStudents from West London’s College, Westminster Kingsway College and HIT Training all joined forces to work with the talented team lead by Executive Chef James Dugan to create and showcase some of the finest food imaginable.

Biju serving canapes on Row and Sons boardsThe visiting chefs couldn’t help but marvel at the wonderful spread that just kept coming on Row and Sons canapé boards.

Student chocolate masterclass with BijuOn arrival, the students were given a chocolate masterclass by Mövenpick Gourmet Dessert Chef of the Year, Biju Joshwa.  Biju walked the students through the tempering, tasting, smelling and aesthetic appeal of his marvellous craft.  Biju showcased Valrhona chocolate in his masterclass supplied by Classic Fine Foods.  The master class was to prepare them for the student chocolate competition, where the learners were to go head to head later in the day to win a stunning afternoon tea for two at The Sheraton Grand.

After an hour of networking and knowledge-sharing, the room fell silent for the welcome speech delivered by James Dugan, Denise Charles, Head of Hospitality at West London College and Bernadette Charters of HIT Training.  Chaired by The Chefs’ Forum Founder, Catherine Farinha, the group spoke of the importance of industry networking events like this one.  The Chefs’ Forum is designed to bring together trainee chefs with top-level professional chefs with fantastic results being achieved.

Denise Charles said:
“This has been another great event by The Chefs’ Forum, wonderful location, great interaction with employers and students and I am delighted to be part of it. I was very proud of my students and the way in which they conducted themselves in the professional environment.”

Bernadette Charters, Business Relationship Manager for London echoed Denise’s comments in complimenting the event.  She said:
HIT Training work with The Chefs’ Forum on a national level to offer work-based learning to employers.  All six of our learners working in the kitchen today all have jobs with high profile employers across London including Harvey Nichols and Oxo Tower.  Working here today has given them a taste of a high-end professional environment, increasing their adaptability, broadening their skill sets.  As a Business Relationship Manager, I too have made some very useful contacts today.”

Chantal serving canapesRecent West London College graduate Chantal Risbey (29) regularly participates in Chefs’ Forum events.  It is the summer holiday and students are not obliged take part in events like these, but Chantal and her eight peers working at this event did! The day culminated in Chantal being offered a part-time position at The Sheraton Grand working under acclaimed chef James Dugan and his talented team.

Chantal said:
I have worked three Chefs’ Forum event so far and I really enjoy them. On the back of the events, I have secured work experience at Harrods and a live cookery demo with Masterchef Professionals finalist, Elly Wentworth (Lucknam Park) at The London Produce Show. It is great to speak to employers, work with my peers and produce fantastic food.  I am overjoyed to have been offered a part time position here at The Sheraton Grand – it fits in well with my other job as a mum to a seven-year-old.  I am delighted to have been given such a wonderful opportunity”.

Davide demo dishHighlights of the day included a brilliant Italian Cookery demo by Mercante Head Chef Davide D’Ignazio, a rabbit cacciatora with minted fine beans and red spring onion marinated in raspberry vinegar. Davide expertly seared rounds of rabbit on the Garland Induction plancha supplied by Welbilt.

Hitesh demo dishHitesh Kohli then gave the chefs an introduction to delicious Indian street food, preparing two dishes: Shami lamb kebab then Vada pav (spicy potato dumpling) with dates and tamarind chutney.

Biju chocolateTo round off the expert demonstrations, Biju Joshwa and Sam Smallman of Classic Fine Foods gave an enchanting chocolate masterclass, where Biju prepared a delicious dessert of Valrhona Tainori 64% caramel mousse with exotic fruit center, tainori glaze, mango jelly foil and tainori whipped ganache.

Biju, James, Davide and Hitesh then all joined forces to judge the student chocolate competition.  Whilst they deliberated and conjugated, Paul Da Costa Greaves of Koppert Cress delivered a mini tasting garden as a teaser for his Summer Cressperience, also taking place in Mercante on the 1st and 2nd August.

Paul Koppert CressOnce the judges returned, they revealed the winning student as Westminster Kingsway international student Krystin Lim whose winning chocolate dessert bagged herself an afternoon tea at The Sheraton Grand!Krystin winner of chocolate comp

Guests’ feedback told The Chefs’ Forum that the event proved a real hit with the London chefs and it is a sure sign that The Chefs’ Forum is becoming the place to be in London every quarter. With compelling demos, fantastic chef networking opportunities and a chance to meet top suppliers, there is no better platform for chefs to meet-up, share knowledge and keep their finger on the industry pulse.