AN EVENING WITH 2016 MASTER CHEF FINALIST STUART ARCHER, THE CULINARY CHEMIST
The people of Sheffield were in for an absolute treat last Friday as Inox Head Chef Joe Berry and the team collaborated with Master Chef 2016 finalist Stuart Archer, AKA The Culinary Chemist to deliver a five course Master Chef inspired dinner. Tickets for the event flew out in anticipation for a taste of Stuart’s culinary delights, we arrived early to the 5th floor restaurant above Sheffield University’s student union building for a complimentary glass of fizz and to soak up the atmosphere as the 120 diners eagerly awaited to sample the menu in store. After we were all seated Stuart greeted the hungry crowd to explain a bit about the evening and what was in-store on the menu before returning into the kitchen.
While waiting for starters to arrive we were treated to super crunchy rye and treacle rolls as well as a mini Yorkshire pudding with Henderson’s relish gel inside. A great nod to the iconic Yorkshire sauce.
Stuart’s starter of ‘Sheffield Fish Cake’ his take on Friday Fish Supper, was really elegantly presented, even before the guests tucked in you could hear everyone wowing as the starters came out. A generous chunk of smoked haddock sandwiched between potato, bread crumbed and fried, served with crunchy shoe stick fries, a soft boiled quails egg, pickled onion puree and a mixture of pea puree and fresh garden peas to add a different texture to the dish. Not to mention a light dash of curry oil around the plate. All elements of the dish worked perfectly with the tastes and textures complimenting each other.
Next on the menu, Stuart’s surprise introductory course of ‘Cottage Pie’. This was served inside the bones used to make the main course bone marrow emulsion so added a real sense of theatre to the dish. Stuffed with super tender braised beef and ultra rich beef gravy then topped off with a velvety creamy mash. A real home comforting dish, perfect for the colder autumn nights.
For the main dish Stuart served up 72-hour Ox Cheek. A really generous portion of tender beef, firstly barbequed to add an intense smoky flavor then sous-vided (poached) in a gentle water bath for three days to give the meat an almost buttery texture inside while retaining the barbeque bark outside. Served with perfectly cooked pickled cabbage that cut through the beef and a big slab of potato fondant and roasted baby carrots this was a real gastro main course. The winner for me was the bone marrow emulsion, a really decedent addition that lifted the dish to another level with the beefy depth of the sauce.
After the richness and intensity of the beef guests were treated to ‘a little refresher’ of G & T. Stuart had cleverly devised an amuse- bouche of Gin and tonic gel slightly sweetened served on an elegant spoon with a yogurt sorbet and garnished with borage leaves to give a fresh cucumber like taste to the G&T. If you can imagine a spoonful of Hendricks and tonic your pretty much there! This was a really well thought out dish to cleanse the palette after such a heavy main course, and again showcased Stuart’s culinary expertise and creative flair well.
Last but not least and another nod to the Master Chef inspired dishes Stuart cooked for the show, Spiced Pumpkin Bavarois. A great balance of pumpkin and cinnamon, served with an oat and pumpkin seed granola with a few other goodies mixed through, brought together with local Sheffield honey, pickled Granny Smith’s apples and apple caramel, finished with the intense smokiness of the lapsang suchong granita (smoked tea). The contrast of tastes and textures worked perfectly together to also showcased the seasonal and local ingredients on offer.
After the plates were cleared Stuart came from the kitchen to a huge applause from the guests who clearly loved every minute of the evening. It was a great addition to have a Q&A with the chef to hear about the different elements that went into the evening, the amount of planning, not to mention a few questions about becoming a Master Chef finalist. There was also the question of potential for plans for Stuart to open his own Sheffield restaurant. A really great evening of five courses from the Culinary Chemist.
Keep a lookout on Stuart’s website for the next pop-up dates. If you fancy a real culinary experience at home Stuart also offers personal, private dining service. For more info head over to Stuart’s website www.theculinarychemist.com.
For more info on Inox Dine head over to their website inoxdine.co.uk/