The view from the kitchen…
Very small. That’s the only way you could describe the kitchen at Hawksmoor restaurant. I spent the day in there on Sunday for the Blaggers Banquet elbow to elbow with War on Cookbooks and Eat My Nels. I really can’t believe that the chefs at Hawksmoor manage to produce food for 60 covers at a time from such a tiny space. Food Urchin shrugged his shoulders and told me that he had seen smaller professional kitchens. I think I am going to have to reform and stop complaining about the size of the kitchen in my flat.
The idea behind the Blaggers Banquet was that London food bloggers would cook and serve a meal made with entirely donated/”blagged” produce to raise money for Action Against Hunger. So it was all in a good cause but also a fascinating peek behind the scenes for a lot of people who spend a lot of time eating in restaurants. The day started at 11am on Sunday when everyone got to Hawskmoor and got to work sorting and organising the produce that had been donated. War on Cookbooks, Eat my Nels and Food Urchin all work or have worked at some stage as chefs so they headed straight to the kitchen. Next thing I knew Ben, Smell my Kitchen and I were in there as well doing our best to assist. My role was crucial obviously, I was dicing carrots. Then I was on the equally high powered job of peeling potatoes.
Eat my Nels and Smell My Kitchen at work in the kitchen
It was quite physically exhausting but fascinating. It was interesting to see how quickly the chefs all worked from the second we got in there in order to get everything perfect for the evening. War on Cookbooks was straight into it getting his stock going with lovely free range organic chicken and of course some of those all important carrots for the Lancashire hot pot style stew he was making. Meanwhile Eat My Nels was busy finely dicing the fabulous sustainable monkfish from Fish For Thought for the entree. The rest of us struggled to keep up. The pace was hectic, there wasn’t even time to stop for lunch. Almost disappointingly there was no yelling or “yes cheffing” it was just heads down and to work.
Then Scandilicious came into the kitchen and I bowed out to waitress duty leaving the professionals to do their thing. I decided that I wasn’t a very good waitress. I had a tendency to interrupt peoples conversations to try and refill their wine glasses. I wasn’t really unobtrusive yet attentive in the style of sommeliers The Wine Sleuth and Intoxicating Prose. A few times I even tried to clear away plates when people weren’t finished which is really a pet hate of mine in restaurants. Perhaps I will now be a little more sympathetic, it really is quite hard to tell. Londonlicious had the waitress thing down to a fine art. She confessed that she used to work as a hostess in a restaurant once so she knew what she was doing.
The view from the guests…
Now I want to turn this post over to MTV boyfriend who attended the Blaggers Banquet to see how he would review it from the point of view of a paying customer:
Upon arrival we were served Chapel Down sparkling wine which was excellent. We were served various canapes. The goats cheese with pomengranate was a bit too cheese heavy but the gougéres were tasty.
Meals were served family style so that each table shared plates. Rounds of monkfish tartare were served on discs of beetroot and sprinkled with capers and a tomato salsa. This was very well presented and had a refreshing summer taste. But it was the lamb and beef stews topped with triple cooked chips which were the dish of the night. They were hearty and satisfying and the meat easily fell apart in your mouth. The third (!) main meal of the night was Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo steak with béarnaise sauce which tasted less gamey than I expected. It was a well cooked thin steak.
Dessert of chocolate tart topped with creme fraiche and gold leaf was a bit too rich for my liking but everyone else seemed to like it. The giant cheese boards were excellent and my favourite was the simplest, the cheddar. It was a fun night with an enthusiastic crowd, lots of drinks and a good atmosphere.
Huge thanks to all the fantastic producers who donated food and drinks. Also to Eat Like a Girl whose idea it all was and to Hawksmoor for their incredible generosity in giving up their kitchen for the day.