The Chefs’ Forum Cooked-up a Storm on The Quay at Exeter Cookery School!

The Chefs’ Forum was delighted to hold its final event of 2016 at Exeter Cookery School on Monday (28) November.   The well-attended event saw 70 top chefs, including Michelin-stars and Masterchefs from across Devon, gather at the beautifully-converted textile warehouse for a day of culinary mastership, knowledge share and menu inspiration.  Learners from HIT Training and South Devon College had the valuable opportunity to showcase their skills to potential employers.

guests-at-exeter-cookery-schoolThe event had originally been billed to take place at the ill-fated Royal Clarence, with an event at the cookery school planned for 2017.  On learning of the tragic news of the hotel’s fire, husband and wife team Jim and Lucy Fisher didn’t hesitate in offering their stunning cookery school to host the Devon chefs’ final meet of the year.

Former Masterchef finalist Jim and Company Director/professional bon viveur Lucy, are no strangers to owning and running a world class-cookery school,  Their first venture, ‘CookinFrance’, saw the couple move to the Dordogne in South West France to set up a cookery school offering cooking lessons to locals and travellers alike. Despite the bemusement of the locals at an Englishman teaching anyone to cook, ‘CookinFrance’ became something of a phenomenon.

Sixteen years later, Jim and Lucy were delighted to welcome fellow members of the Devon chef scene to the beautifully-designed quayside cookery school.  The Chefs’ Forum was thrilled to celebrate the couple’s fantastic achievement of opening a fantastic cookery school used to teach the art of gastronomy to everyone from the novice to professional chef.

jim-with-hit-learnerThe day kicked-off with Jim working with learners form HIT Training and South Devon College to prepare and serve stunning signature canapés in the open plan cookery school.  It was great for the learners  to cook amongst the attending guests as opposed to working back of house.  The visiting chefs could really assess their skills and ability.  The students worked brilliantly with Jim to produce a mouth-watering array of signature canapés:

All ingredients for the canapé reception and demo that followed were kindly donated by The Chefs’ Forum Sponsors Arthur David Foodservice, Kingfisher Brixham, Walter Rose & Sons, Total Produce and Koppert Cress.

Jim then brought a touch of the Dordogne to Devon by showcasing his Pan-Fried Magret-style duck breast (substituted with delicious Creedy Carver duck from Walter Rose butchers) with Confit Duck Croquette; Sautéed Kale, Lardo & Chestnuts; Mash; Sweetcorn Puree, and a Game Sauce.

Jim said:

“I was delighted to welcome the chefs to the school today, it has been hard work bringing it all together and this has been our most full-on day here yet, however, it was an amazing opportunity to bind the chefs and students together to galvanise the industry and safeguard its future.”

A medley of fantastic demos then followed, providing a real treat for Chefs’ Forum members; Darren Whelan from Kingfisher Brixham wowing guests with a flat fish and round fish hand-filleting skills display.  At the same time Convotherm Demo Chef, Keith Howland showcased his version of confit duck in the OES6:06 Convotherm Mini Model oven.

mark-belford-from-hit-demoThe Chefs’ Forum sponsor and work-based learning provider, HIT Training showcased its relationship with the cookery school with a fantastic demo by Mark Belford, training assessor. Mark joined forced with HIT learner Phoenix De Giorgi (16), working under Dez Turland at Brend Hotels.  Mark worked with Phoenix to create two decadent desserts in tandem. The chefs produce a blow-torched Christmas Pudding Baked Alaska, Sloe Gin Ice cream with panettone crumb and clementine caviar.

Mark said:

“I hope this demo has given you a valuable insight into the high-quality training and skill enrichment learners can expect on enlisting in the HIT Chefs Academy.  The Academy allows its learners to work full-time whilst gaining valuable industry qualifications up to Masters Degree level 7.  In ten years’ time, Phoenix will be the next Heston Blumenthal and that is the reason he’s up here in front of you all – I’m really proud of him”.

The HIT Chefs’ Academy is utilising Exeter Cookery School to gather its learners on a regular basis to deliver vital components of its work-based learning courses.

Rebecca Mitchell AIWS led an inspired, educational and interactive wine-tasting, encouraging the chefs to explore their taste buds in sampling different food with wines and talking them through the way that food pairings have a huge effect on the way that wine can taste.

judges-of-canape-compThe day culminated in a brilliant canapé competition between the students from South Devon College and HIT Training. Three students were given the same mystery box of ingredients and challenged to create a winning canapé to bag the winner a day at the Cookery school with Jim and Lucy.

Level 3 students from South Devon College Elizabeth Hanger (17) and Katie Irish (18) battled against HIT Learner Phoenix De Giorgi (16) to create a highly impressive array of canapés from the following raw ingredients:

Filo pastry, bread, a lime, garlic, 2 king prawns, pineapple and Koppert Cress.

katies-winning-canapesAfter Jim, Lucy and Southwest Homecook of the Year, Sue Stoneman had a ‘judgy huddle’, deliberated and crowned Katie Irish the winner.  Katie was delighted with her prize of a day at the cookery school and proudly accepted her voucher from Jim.

This Chefs’ Forum event showed that the Devon Food scene and its members are a force to be reckoned with and it was fantastic to see so many young people headed for greatness, working with true food experts and joining forces with great chefs to celebrate local culinary talent.

Photography by