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Creating a bride’s day for Sassi’s Holford’s Exclusive Couture Preview Show

Recently we had the privilege of working with celebrated bridalwear designer Sassi Holford as she showcased her 2014 Couture designs at The In & Out. To create the menu for this very special event, our Executive Chef Gary Devereaux worked with Chester Boyd’s Karen Poynter and our talented pastry chef Angi Kang.
The team of chefs wanted to offer something a bit different from the usual wedding fare and the classic food traditionally served at The In & Out, while still reflecting the essence of the event and the character of the venue.

When faced with creating a specific menu for a specific event like this, Gary says: "It’s like planting a seed; you need that one theme, some keywords, a hook, and from that a whole series of ideas sprout forth, and then you can quickly come up with a range of ideas.”

The team settled on the idea of creating a menu that was not just a traditional wedding breakfast and canapé menu, but rather a recreation of "a bride’s day” – brought to life in food. From there, waves of conceptual ideas flowed, and it was just a case of devising their execution.

The menu began with an evocation of the morning of a wedding, as an excited bride gets ready for her big day with duck and orange "lipsticks”, goat’s cheese "toothpaste” with beetroot and melba toast brushes, and an edible make-up palette of dips with a grissini applicator. The guests were surprised and delighted by these unsual treats and really loved the interactive element.

The next round of canapés were designed to reflect the wedding breakfast. As a playful nod to the term and its origins as a morning meal, the chefs paired their lobster and crab bisque canapé with a citrus shortbread "soldier” and served it in eggshells. Guests often remember the visual elements of a meal as much as the flavour so we love to think of exciting and creative ways to present our dishes, utilising a range of different and unusual decking. Our vegetarian option was a cep tortellini and Jerusalem artichoke tortellini, while carnivores enjoyed aged beef fillet with potato purée in puff pastry "saucepans”.

Perhaps the most labour intensive part of creating food is actually the presentation. For example rolling the fillets of beef so they form perfect circles and hand rolling and cutting the mini ‘pans’ of puff pastry. While the dishes could be delivered a lot faster without this attention to detail, they wouldn’t look the part, so it’s something that has to be factored in as a chef, when writing a menu and preparing for an event.

“You reach a point in your career as a chef where you can cook pretty much any dish, but the way you push yourself is in how it’s done, by surprising guests with the addition of theatrics and visual flair.”

Speech time is a key moment in any bride’s day so that was where our chefs looked to next. It’s a point when all the wedding party is seated and comfortable – what better opportunity for afternoon tea? The chefs gave our Ampersand version a savoury twist with some rather surprising éclairs and scones. On cake stands guests found mini Yorkshire puddings with rare roast beef, horseradish, mustard and crème fraîche foam; tomato scones with mozzarella and basil and cured salmon éclairs.

When creating a menu it’s important to keep a structure and ensure that there is an even variety and all the important details are covered – vegetarian, or even vegan, options, not always meat and catering for different palates. So, within our afternoon tea course, as with our "wedding breakfast”, we offered something for vegetarians, something for seafood fans and a red meat option. Again, detail is important so the beetroot glaze which adorned the salmon éclairs used agar-agar instead of gelatine to keep the canapé suitable for a pescetarian diet.

Pastry chef Angi loves her work; it can be challenging, as baking is such a fine science and everything needs to be measured exactly, but she loves the different kind of creativity and visual flair you can only achieve with desserts. A sweet course allows a chef to let their imagination run riot, with bright colours and fantastical shapes.

It’s a rare wedding that does not end with dancing, Angi chose to conjure the spirit of the wedding disco in her dessert course.
She created strawberry sparkle, a strawberry gel around a strawberry mousse, with popping candy as a sparkling surprise, to evoke the twinkling of lights and the glitter of disco balls. Lemon curd tart was her nod to the traditional. It’s a clever choice as well as a tasty one; fresh lemon flavours cleanse the palate after rich wedding food. Meanwhile meringue wedding bands and chocolate orange top hats kept the wedding theme alive, as well as charming the guests!

It was a delight to work alongside the talented Sassi Holford, and we hope she was every bit as captivated by our dishes as we were by her beautiful designs.

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