Now that you've had an update on what we've been up to so far in the residency, we thought we'd give you a bit more of a look at one event in particular that we were lucky enough to be a part of. The YBFs were held last week on the 15th of September and a small team of us got together to bring some Smoke & Salt treats down to the Tate Britain to see what it was all about....
This is all came about as we were kicking off our residency when we put ourselves forward as a potential nominee for the YBF (Young British Foodie) awards themselves. Sadly we didn't make the final cut but I did remember a message somewhere in the cloud of social media stating that the YBF team were looking for interested parties to serve some food at the event itself. After a quick e-mail exchange we put forward the idea of serving our take on a fish taco and were gladly welcomed to become a part of the event.
For those who don't know, the YBF awards are given out annually and are in their 4th year celebrating some of the great new talent in the UK. The idea was started by a small group of really passionate food-lovers who wanted to create a concept that would shine a light on members of the food community who were forging ahead with new and fascinating concepts. These concepts are currently focused on 9 categories: Chefs, Baking, Alcohol, Street Food, Coffee, Meat, Vegetable, Food Writing and the Honorary Category. Needless to say, with judges such as Nuno Mendes, Simon Rogan, Claude Bosi and Fay Maschler these aren't “just another” set of awards doled out or taken lightly.
The Chalkstream Foods team were incredibly generous when it came to the event, especially given our briefing that stated we would have to be feeding 400 people with multiple bites of food. A week before event day we had taken delivery of 8 beautiful trout from Arthur Voelcker, our friend and contact at Chalkstream Foods, with strict instructions to ensure that the food we served would be delicious! Of course, we would not let him down, especially knowing that he would be there on the awards night itself. There are 2 things to note about this particular delivery of fish. Firstly we were lucky enough to receive fish with the egg-sac completely intact which meant that we got to experiment with curing and preparing our own trout roe (or caviar to the more general population). Sadly we're going to need a bit more practise before we can market “Chalkstream Farms Trout Roe by Smoke & Salt”, especially as it is a bit of a mouthful! Secondly, this fish comes in so fresh that it needs up to 3 days in a fridge to relax itself out of rigor mortis (a phenomenon that causes the muscles of a living creature to stiffen up in death). We prepped for this event over the week, working on it during any free time we had from our residency. On the morning of the event, we were ready to go with a small team that included my wife, Chloe from Platform 1 and Chris and gathered at the Tate Britain for the event.
A swift setup left us plenty of time to have a look around the gallery itself and see how cultured we were...sadly, not as cultured as we had initially thought! With the awards proceedings set to begin at 1930h, guests started to arrive in their drones at 1900h which meant we were all full steam ahead from that point on. As the night wore on we realised that we may have sabbotaged ourselves with a dish that required so much fine, last-minute assembly. Un-deterred we continued to feed hungry guests all the way up until the end of the awards ceremony (2030h) and made sure to go around and share our fare while meeting the proprietors of other groups serving food that evening. The menu will give you a fuller picture of all the producers and chefs who were present serving, so despite going out on a sharing mission, we definitely found ourselves feeling rather gluttonous and greedy with the amount of amazing products on display. A was zipping from beer (thanks to the 40ft Brewery team for keeping us well lubricated!) to charcuterie to cheese while I plated more and more tacos, pausing briefly to drop off some samples for me to taste. I finally ventured out on my own mission around the cavernous space that was the Tate Duveen Gallery, making sure to fulfil the promise I made to my wife when I said “There will be loads of food you can eat” after she had asked what we would be doing about dinner. Needless to say, the dessert stands took a hit at this point of the night! Highlights for us included: all of that charcuterie from Cobble Lane Cured, Canelés from Babelle (we will definitely be doing a tour of their kitchen in a few weeks!) and iced bass ceviche from Pachamama (we were doing shots of tiger's milk with them too just so you know how good it was).
All in all it was a fantastic evening to be a part of and neither of us can do enough thank the team that helped us out on the night. Our aim is to cook hard enough to ensure we get ourselves onto the short-list next year so we get to meet even more amazing food-lovers. I say food-lovers rather than foodies because there really is a stark difference. These guys who were short-listed truly deserve commendation for all of their efforts with food and produce and don't just enjoy food. They, like us, live it and breathe it all day every day with no letting up. If we have a day off, we'll be trying to enjoy the best food we can, if we love something we'll let you know and above all, there is a real sense of feeling and community amongst food-lovers when it comes down to it. We can't all be the best at everything so if this is the way for us to really appreciate what one another really does in their chosen field then let's do it! See you next year YBFs! R.