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It’s 4:15pm on the first day of the Venues & Events show and we’re in the kitchen at Old Billingsgate. You could cut the silence with a serving spoon, yet the space is a swarm of activity. At
every prep table, a small team of chefs puts the final touches to its 2011 Canapé Cup entrant, while serving staff loiter tentatively, waiting to whisk the presentation trays out to the
This year, the stakes are as high as ever. All eyes are on the Cinnamon Kitchen, not only because they’ve won the trophy two years in a row and are the team to beat, but also because the head chef, Abdul Yaseen, has a BBC TV crew following him for this year’s Hairy Bikers’ Christmas special.
Outside, our judges are gathering, the first batch of the 350 lucky Square Meal invitees and staff, pencils sharpened, each ready to give their critique to the line-up. Testing finger food – washed down with flutes of fizz – isn’t the most gruelling of assignments, but in a competition this keenly fought, every vote is key. Alongside the standard of the food itself, judges must take aspects such as presentation, ease of consumption and breadth of appeal into account. This year’s standard was higher than ever, but who took home the trophy? Read on to find out.
Grilled Anjou pigeon with tamarind glaze, spiced pigeon fritter, & a
green pea & yoghurt shot
by Cinnamon Kitchen
The panel loved the ‘beautiful’ presentation and there were almost no quibbles about the ‘pleasantly surprising’ choice of pigeon. Spicing, predictably, was ‘too much’ for some and ‘perfectly balanced’ for others, while a number of judges raised concerns that it ‘needs explanation’ .
Honey-candied bacon with apple & stilton
by Eden Caterers
Judges praised the ‘pretty’ floral presentation and the ‘simple’, ‘crowd-pleasing’ compilation as well as the sourcing of local ingredients. They also liked the ‘strong’ flavours though the base, perhaps, was ‘slightly dry’.
Hoisin duck with a cucumber & ginger pipette
by Vacherin at the Royal Society of Chemistry
Our panel liked the ‘subtle’ flavours and ‘moist’ texture, while the pipette of ginger divided opinion. Some thought it was ‘funky’, other found it ‘fiddly
Spicy chicken & mango curry
The judges thought the ‘vibrant curry tang’ was ‘lovely’ and further points were scored for the ‘just right’ spice level and ‘sensible’ portion, though the bread base was deemed ‘too dry’ for some.
Fig with Manchego & truffle
by Bubble Food
Judges were ‘intrigued’ by ‘amazing’ presentation and loved the ‘sudden burst of flavour’, but although these were undeniably ‘original’, many felt they ‘too sticky’ and ‘slow to serve’.
Lime Mousse Pie
by The Window
This wheat- and sugar-free dessert got ‘extra points for covering dietary requirements’ and judges ‘loved the avocado’ and the ‘great mix of textures’ though some quibbled with the ‘two hands’ approach to eating.
Duck & hoisin pancake roulade
The panel praised the ‘festive look’ and ‘refreshing’ flavours in a canapé that ‘felt heathier than others’ though a number of judges found it ‘clumsy to eat’.
Mini beetroot tart tatin, Cothi Valley goats’ cheese & pea dust
by Party Ingredients at Skinners’ Hall
The ‘creative’ use of ‘simple’ ingredients got the thumbs up in this ‘seasonal’ compilation of ‘earthy’ flavours that would make a ‘great veggie option’ though the beetroot was a little ‘sour’.
Roulade of Shetland salmon on a vegetable gateau with galangal foam
by Royal Garden Hotel
The panel enjoyed the ‘melt in the mouth’ salmon and ‘delicate’, ‘fresh’ Asian flavours – which, according to some ‘needed a kick’ – though the whole thing was ‘challenging’ to eat in one bite.’
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events Autumn 2011.