Ten chefs fight it out for the most coveted piece of silverware in event catering
Mike Fletcher Photos:
This was the year that Square Meal’s Canapé Cup got tough. As if cooking for 300 potential customers and our restaurant guide’s in-house food critics wasn’t nerve-racking enough, we decided to invite two-Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing
as a guest judge. And did we mention that last year’s winner Boulevard Events, historic three-time champions Cinnamon Kitchen, and twice-victorious Eden Caterers were all in the game? Just a bit of pressure, then. Turn the page to find out who went home with the big, shiny cup.
by Boulevard Events
For the second year running, Boulevard Events took the canapé crown. Last year’s winning entry was hailed as ‘a main course in one bite’, so it was only right and proper that this year they followed up with dessert. And not just any old pud. This James Bond-inspired chocolate slice had it all – a sweet crackle, a shot of Baileys and a rich chocolate centre. Our judges praised it for being ‘irresistible’, ‘dangerous’ and having a ‘licence to thrill’. Daniel Craig would be proud.
Chicken liver parfait
by Belgraves Hotel
This year’s runner-up had judges, including Marcus Wareing, commending its ‘inventiveness’, as crispy chicken skin was used to form a base for smooth chicken liver parfait, topped with cider jelly and a perfectly reduced red onion marmalade. The resulting bite was ‘rich and flavoursome’ with ‘perfect texture combinations’. Well played.
The bronze medal went to Scott Hallsworth’s restaurant mini-chain, which served up pork buns so delicious that we went back for seconds. Barbecued pork belly was cooked to melting perfection and smothered in spicy peanut soy, then stuffed into a substantial steamed bun. Unanimously praised for flavour, it was the ‘messy’ aspect of this larger than average bite that cost it the canapé crown.
A little bit of Christmas
by Melissa Webb
Thoroughly deserving a special mention, Melissa Webb marinated venison in black treacle overnight, then infused it with a shot of dark chocolate, adding parmesan and walnuts as a finishing touch. It was a delightful morsel of meat – cooked to perfection and bursting with flavour – and the combination of black treacle and chocolate was inspired.
PX I love you
by Eden Caterers
The battle between this year’s two dessert entries may ultimately have been won by Boulevard Events, but rivals Eden Caterers impressed the judges with this ice cream-based canapé, infused with fortified wine and popping candy, encased in chocolate and served on a pipette of Pedro Ximénez. It was hailed as ‘inventive’, ‘unique’ and ‘fun’ – three core qualities every party needs.
Peruvian surf & turf
We loved the cured sea bass ceviche, while the chilli tiger’s milk on the crispy pork crackling gave it a subtle kick of flavour. But adding a popcorn shoot to the base just confused the taste buds and many judges didn’t know what to make of it.
Cured salmon & green pea wasabi balls
by Cinnamon Kitchen
These jihai muri balls of puffed rice held together well and were delightful on the eye. Judges marked them down for the overpoweringly hot punch of wasabi, which disguised the organic cured salmon centre.
Greek Salad Marshmallow
This was a playful take on a Greek salad with a fluffy feta marshmallow and all the remaining ingredients in compressed form on top. The judges loved the idea but commented that it just wasn’t substantial enough to satisfy the hungry partygoer.
Cock a doodle do!
by Tom's Kitchen
Tom Aikens’ brasserie chain showcased its poultry supplier with hearty brioche buns stuffed with chicken boudin, breast and crispy skin. Had it not been over-seasoned, this could have been a real contender. The quality of the chicken shone through, though the oily bun left judges searching for napkins.
by Yasmeen Restaurant
This baked Lebanese pastry filled with three different cheeses was hailed as a great vegetarian option, oozing flavour, but described by some of the judges as a little ‘doughy’. The Square Meal critics found it tasty, though it couldn’t hold a candle to the more complex canapé creations on offer.
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events, Autumn 2015