At SquareMeal Venues + Events Live, eleven caterers put their miniature masterpieces forward to contend for the coveted Canapé Cup. Today we’re throwing it back to the winners to give you plenty of inspiration for the year ahead
The 2017 Canapé Cup was sponsored by Yahire.
For something so diminutive, a canapé demands an extraordinary amount of work to get just right. And let’s not forget that, in a single bite, it can set the tone for a whole event. So when we entered the competitors’ kitchen at Venues + Events Live before the judging of the 2017 Canapé Cup, the atmosphere was understandably a little bit tense.
English sirloin was wrapped around truffle and balsamic caviar, followed by Westerham Viceroy India Pale Ale in the dinkiest ‘pint’ glass ever
Outside, 200 SquareMeal readers were poised to judge, pen in one hand, glass of bubbly in the other. What were these savvy event professionals looking for in each of the 11 entries? Great taste, texture, presentation, innovation – for sure. But also, vitally, how easy it was to eat. Read on to find out which contenders ticked all the boxes in a contest more competitive than ever and get set to plan your next reception menu.
Wildwood Festival – 1st place
Easy Gourmet Catering
Our winner showed real panache in creating not just a canapé, but an entire experience: specifically, a woodland festival. The setup included mini-bunting, ‘moss’, mushrooms, a ‘festival pass’ listing all the ingredients and, in the middle of all that, a special gluten-free beer pairing. To start, a wonderfully tender slice of English sirloin wrapped around truffle- and balsamic-flavoured caviar, sat on a parmesan shortbread, topped with wild mushrooms and edible flowers. This was followed by a gulp of Westerham Viceroy India Pale Ale in perhaps the dinkiest ‘pint’ glass ever. All in all, a decadent combination of flavours, and visually on point. Pretty impressive for a first-time entry.
Something to Treasure – 2nd place
Events director Mark Maher told us the trickiest part would be getting the timing right, so the salted caramel ice cream wouldn’t melt. The team nailed it, and the taste of hazelnut and white chocolate in a brandy snap casing didn’t disappoint either. Presenting the canapés on a pirate ship added an element of fun and did justice to this beautiful bite’s name.
Sea + Shore – 3rd place
Smiths of Smithfield
This tastes of the seaside, and I love it,’ proclaimed one judge. We also favoured this contender for its savoury take on a Cornetto, filled with a smooth mix of lemon creme fraiche, flaked smoked mackerel and beetroot mayo. The cone was a smart way to make the canapé easy to handle, though some of those judging felt it needed to be slightly crispier.
Gujarati Street – Critic’s choice
Who doesn’t love a good bottom? Too often, not enough thought is given to the base of a canapé, and that can lead to a lack of flavour or an unsatisfying texture. Not here, though. We loved Asia House’s steamed patra-leaf disc. The well-spiced tandoori guinea fowl on top married beautifully with the coriander raita, and mango, mint and lime salsa too. The level of heat was spot on; we just wish the presentation had been a little stronger.
Best of the Rest
Gin and Treacle on Toast
Searcys 30 Euston Square
Searcys 30 Euston Square’s Gin and Treacle on Toast was big on fresh flavours. Judges lauded the mix of treacle-cured salmon, beetroot and gin caviar, and grapefruit jelly with a crisp croute.
We loved Berkeley Catering’s subtly spiced quail with caraway tuile, cauliflower two ways and pakora. The pickled coriander and yoghurt dressing pleased, but for some the base came out a tad dry.
Cinnamon Kitchen’s entry was visually impressive: dry ice over a tandoori octopus canapé on a charcoal crisp. The yuzu and basil sorbet balanced the heat nicely, though some found it a little too sweet.
Baubles, Beads and Bangles
Eden Caterers decorated its stand with baubles, beads and bangles. The crown jewel? A ball of creamy goats’ cheese, blackcurrant and honey rolled in crushed sugar and nuts. Savoury and sweet.
Ginger Jar Food
Innovation was the name of the game with Ginger Jar Food’s Pepperkaker Meringue – a savoury take on the dessert. We loved the way the ginger cut through the rich blue cheese right at the end of the mouthful.
A Sea Mist of Torched Pickled Mackerel
Tobacco Dock Food
Tobacco Dock Food’s entry mixed modern-day techniques with Scandi flavour profiles. The torched sweet-dill pickled mackerel with yuzu gel and beetroot was a hit; only the soggy tapioca crisp let it down.
Lamb Playing a Tuber
With Jerusalem artichokes just coming into season, the Tophat team used the vegetable’s skin as a base to hold whipped goats’ cheese, lamb tartare and dried black olives. Nice woody flavours – just more cheese, please.
Find out more about our favourite caterers here.