Twelve event caterers brought their best offerings to compete for the Canapé Cup, but which of the delicious dozen prevailed?

Words: Stuart Derrick

Canape Cup Winners - credit Aidan Synnott

As the afternoon of the first day of Venues + Events Live drew to an end, visitors got down to the serious business of judging this year’s prestigious Canapé Cup. With 12 caterers in the running, the competition was more fierce than ever as chefs battled it out to convince the hard-to-please V+E crowd that their morsels were most deserving of plaudits.

The runners and riders included winner for the past two years, Boulevard Events, fellow two-time cupholders Eden Caterers, and historic three-time winners Cinnamon Kitchen – hungry to recapture the title. Who would triumph? Take a deep breath and turn the page to find out this year’s worthy winners.



WINNER

Cinnamon Kitchen - credit Aidan Synnott

Hiran Ka Shikaar Papad & Chutney
Cinnamon Kitchen

They did it! Cinnamon Kitchen became four-time winners with a marriage of classic game flavours and Keralan spices to delight the taste buds. The duo of venison comprised clove-smoked loin of venison and Kerala toddy shop pickle, served on a beetroot and tapioca crisp with yoghurt and mint chutney. Served on an elegant black slate, this moreish flavour combination looked as good as it tasted. Bravo!



SECOND PLACE

Top Hat Catering - credit Aidan Synnott

Smoked Chicken & Fig
Top Hat Catering

Crispy chicken skin is officially a ‘thing’ after becoming the base on the second-placed canapé for the second year running. Top Hat created a crispy chicken-skin wafer served alongside a smoky chicken liver parfait. This was accompanied by lightly poached figs soaked in sauternes and sautéed until smooth. Finished with an edible flower petal, this was a real crowd-pleaser. Delicate and delicious.



THIRD PLACE

Searcys at 30 Euston Square - credit Aidan Synnott

English Breakfast Bite
Searcys at 30 Euston Square

You’ll never disappoint a British audience with a well-cooked traditional breakfast, no matter the time of day. Searcys’ twist on the concept was a marvel in miniature. It teamed a base of toasted brioche, topped with Cumberland sausage and mushroom crisp, finished with tomato jam, egg purée and a single homemade baked bean. And they didn’t forget the bacon, served as a crispy crumb. Gorgeous.



HIGHLY COMMENDED

Eden Caterers - credit Aidan Synnott

Duck in a Rush
Eden Caterers

Canapés should be fun, and this little poppet provided it in spades – a smile on a stick. The canapé pop featured sugar-dipped hazelnuts, kumquat and a smooth duck and blackberry parfait, with a hint of Maldon salt. Despite the novelty, it was a serious piece of construction as Eden had to build a solid little platform to hold the soft duck mousse. The pleasing contrast of textures impressed us.



CRITICS CHOICE

Boulevard Events - credit Aidan Synnott

Back to Rio
Boulevard Events

What better to way to remember the success of our Olympians at the 2016 Rio Games than in a pork and beans-based canapé? That’s what we thought too. Boulevard Events came up trumps again with its take on a traditional Portuguese feijoada with black beans and pork. Its exquisite smokiness proved to be a hit with our critics, who hailed it ‘delicioso’.



THE CONTENDERS

Berkeley Catering - credit Aidan Synnott

A Celebration of Salmon
Berkeley Catering

Berkeley’s fish three ways was a tasty take on a canapé mainstay. Poached, smoked and gravlax salmon was finished with lime and wasabi liquor, topped with Avruga caviar, and combined with blanched leek for an oniony hit.



Darbarr - credit Aidan Synnott

Royal Spiced Guinea Fowl with Beetroot Shots & Herby Nanza

Darbaar 

Another traditional game dish with an Indian twist. The accompanying curried beetroot and whipped yoghurt shot cooled things down nicely. A little fiddly though!



Ginger Jar Food - credit Aidan Synnott

The Black Pearl 
Ginger Jar Food

A thing of beauty, this delicate offering looked and tasted great. The combination of rainbow trout, black rice, lime pearls, yuzu, orange and star anise powder delivered classic Asian flavours along with crunchy and soft textures. 



Smiths of Smithfield - credit Aidan Synnott

Cacao, Sour Cherry & Pistachio Bon Bon

Smiths of Smithfield

It looked like a bonbon and tasted of chicken liver parfait in a truffled cocoa butter shell. A little too much of a disconnect between appearance and taste for some, but inventive.



Sumosan - credit Aidan Synnott

Silver Avocado, Stuffed Salmon Tartare, Miso Pearls

Sumosan 

Silver-coloured food is a brave choice, and this ambitious creation didn’t quite get over the initial trepidation it caused. It tasted fine, but texturally was a tad cloying.



La Maison Maille with Coq d'Argent - credit Aidan Synnott

Maille Mustard Macaron 
La Maison Maille with Coq d’Argent

Chef Damien Rigollet devised these savoury macarons featuring various mustards: honey, Dijon and wholegrain. The mustard brought out the sweetness of the other flavours nicely.



Smith & Wollensky - credit Aidan Synnott

Chocolate Cake 
Smith & Wollensky

‘You can’t go wrong with chocolate cake,’ proclaimed some critics. This layered treat filled with dark chocolate mousse, brushed with Baileys and covered in a chocolate ganache certainly hit the spot.



This article was first published in Squaremeal Venues + Events, Autumn 2016