The Chefs’ Forum Field Kitchen at New Forest Fruit Company

A balmy strawberry poly tunnel at The New Forest Fruit Co fruit farm lent its self as the perfect set up for ‘The Chefs’ Forum Field Kitchen’ on Monday 22nd September. Fruity cookery demonstrations and a tour of the fruit farm and its produce offered a real field to fork experience to top chefs and hospitality students alike.

Students from both Highbury College and Bournemouth & Poole College worked with high-end private caterer Stephane Jouan (Cuisine Saveurs) to produce some excellent canapés showcasing beautiful strawberries and Haskap berries grown on the fruit farm.

Stephan said: “The students have been excellent, very professional and extremely enthusiastic.  Based on today’s performance, I would welcome any of them to work with me in my kitchen if they wished to do so”.

Level 3 student Chris Phillips of Highbury College added: “Working with Stephan and the students from Bournemouth & Poole College has been fab! I have had a really exciting day and can’t wait to put myself forward to help out at future Chefs’ Forum events”.

A field kitchen was set up in a poly tunnel at the farm with Cooktek Induction and a BlueChef cooking engine and Magic Vac Pack machine all supplied by MCS Technical Products.  This market leading kitchen equipment was used to create strawberry jam and fantastic sweet and savoury canapés including beef carpaccio in soy sauce, Thai style quenelle of crab, scallops in pancetta, compressed strawberries cooked sous vide in a Clifton Food Range water bath and lemon crackle in sweet pastry cups.

All ingredients for canapés were supplied by Harvest Fine Foods, Walter Rose & Son Butchers and Samways Fish Merchants.

Executive Chef Matt Budden of the Highcliff Marriott then performed a brilliant cookery demonstration of fresh strawberries with black pepper crème fraiche and a strawberry crumble.

Matt has just been appointed Marriot Europe Chef of The Year and is a great role model to students entering into industry.

Matt said:“Chefs’ Forum events are vital in giving students a real field to fork experience.  It is really important that they know the provenance of ingredients they use every day, it is also great for them to meet potential future employers.”

Michelle Comins of Comins Tea House then gave a tutored tea tasting to the guests which was very much enjoyed by chefs and students alike.  Tea is now being considered as a serious alternative to coffee as the perfect end to a perfect meal.  It was lovely to see the students engage in the whole ‘tea ceremony’ concept and asking questions at the end.

The perfect day was then rounded off with a sunny tour of the fruit farm, where Director Sandy Booth gave a fascinating presentation on strawberry and new Haskap super berry growing.

Sandy was a great host and commented: This Chefs’ Forum event has been a great opportunity to showcase the many different varieties of strawberry grown here on the fruit farm.  We grow strawberries from March to December to try and keep imports out and reduce food miles.

The Chefs’ Forum field kitchen event was a great success and the concept will be repeated with other partner Colleges throughout the south west and south east as a result.

Photography by Andrew Plant: