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.
Hiran Ka Shikaar Papad & Chutney
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!
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.
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.
Duck in a Rush
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.
Back to Rio
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’.
A Celebration of Salmon
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.
Royal Spiced Guinea Fowl with Beetroot Shots & Herby Nanza
Another traditional game dish with an Indian twist. The accompanying curried beetroot and whipped yoghurt shot cooled things down nicely. A little fiddly though!
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.
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.
Silver Avocado, Stuffed Salmon Tartare, Miso Pearls
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.
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
‘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