Forest Fungi mushroom farm in Dawlish Warren was the venue for this quarter’s Devon Chefs’ Forum event held on Monday (26) September. Over 90 top chefs from Devon enjoyed a day of clay shooting and Michelin-starred cookery demonstrations by Michelin-starred chef Michael Wignall (Gidleigh Park).
The Chefs’ Forum stages quarterly events at various venues in the area and enables chefs to forge links with their peers, young chefs and aspiring front of house professionals from South Devon College and Hit Training. Michelin-starred Michael Wignall led the students in producing delicious mushroom and game canapés for an audience of industry experts.
Scott Marshall, Proprietor at Forest Fungi said: “It is amazing to see so many local chefs here to celebrate and support their industry whilst motivating and supporting the next generation. I am honoured and humbled to see our mushrooms used in brilliant and impressive recipes, crafted by such a high profile chef as Michael Wignall – I am delighted that he has come to Devon to fly the flag for excellent local cuisine using top quality local ingredients. Michael has asked me to install a mushroom ‘growing room’ at Gidleigh Park, which will enable him to crop and cook mushrooms in the freshest possible way.”
Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum commented: “We held this event to showcase the connection between the sport of game shooting and game meat and hopefully increase the use of game meat in the chefs’ repertoire for next shooting season. Forest Fungi produces the finest gourmet mushrooms from its ‘Shroom Room’ in Dawlish Warren which perfectly compliment game meat. This was pairing was demonstrated in fantastic Michelin-starred standard cookery which has no doubt inspired their culinary peers and the young chefs. It is great that the students learned about the versatility of game meat and the growing and harvesting of various mushroom species whilst training to be chefs – They will take this knowledge on into industry with them.”
Hospitality students from South Devon College and Hit Training joined Michael Wignall in the Induced Energy Induction kitchen at the Forest Fungi cafe. They produced stunning canapés showcasing top quality produce from Chefs’ Forum suppliers Walter Rose & Son (Game), Total Produce (Veg) and Majestic Commercial (Wine) . The Michelin-starred morsels from The Gidleigh Park Menu comprised:
• Deer Tartare with Coal Oil, Parsley Emulsion and Coal Powder
• Shitake Mushroom cooked in seaweed tea, mushroom ketchup and beer bubbles with wet walnuts
Wignall then performed two cookery demos, which wowed his peers: Enoki, Watercress, Beer Bubbles, Fermented Garlic, Puff Potato, Wet Walnut and Wiltshire Truffle. Then, hare cannelloni of kohlrabi, best end and loin, baked chocolate, Maitake mushrooms, young parsnips and curry spice.
The students demonstrated to Michael and other prospective employer chefs who attended the event, the great skills (both kitchen and front of house) that they have acquired on their courses with a view to securing apprenticeships in restaurants to further their career. Some of the students said they aspire to join prestigious properties like Gidleigh Park.
Michael Wignall, Executive Chef of Gidleigh Park said: “I was delighted with the level of skill and professionalism demonstrated by the hospitality students whilst they were working in the kitchen with me at Forest Fungi – I enjoy working with young chefs from local colleges and I’m consistently very pleased with the standard of the learners. It was great to see them enjoying themselves today; having a go at clay pigeon shooting and cooking and finishing canapés with me. I am very excited to be working with Scott in the creation of my own growing room at Gidleigh Park”.
Expert shooting coaches from BASC tutored top chefs and catering students in clay pigeon shooting with a view to inviting them to take up shooting game as a sport under the ‘Taste of Game’ initiative, headed up by Annette Cole who gave a very informative speech on sourcing venison responsibly from dealers with a DSC1 deer stalking licence. With further tuition the chefs and students will then have the necessary skills to shoot their own game meat and incorporate it into their menus.
Mark Provan, Programme Coordinator for Hospitality & Catering (South Devon College) said: “The students had a great day today. The Chefs’ Forum events are a great opportunity for them to meet employers, gain new knowledge and network with peers from Hit Training – We all enjoy taking part in the quarterly events – We’re also looking forward to hosting our second Chefs’ Forum event at the college in 2017 with our Academy leader, celebrity chef Mitch Tonks – Again, this will be great work experience for the students making them even more industry-ready on leaving college”.
Maria Cooper, Business Consultant for South Devon & Cornwall added: I find The Chefs’ Forum events very effective for catching up with existing employers with whom we work as well as letting new employers know about our work-based learning programmes. We have had four learners in kitchen today working alongside students from South Devon College. Everyone had a great day and we’re truly honoured to work with such an acclaimed food hero as Michael Wignall.”
Tom Mackins, Chef Proprietor at Restaurant Chapter One, Newquay enjoyed last week’s Chefs’ Forum Big Brunch for Hospitality Action so much that he kindly offered to ‘come up country and out of county’ to showcase Venison Loin on the Monolith Kamado Grill to further demonstrate the ‘hand in glove’ partnership of the Autumnal flavours of venison loin and mushroom.
The Chefs’ Forum aims to enhance the skill sets of top chefs in industry through updating them with the latest techniques being used by their peers – This time, promoting the use of game meat with locally-produced gourmet mushrooms in chefs’ menus – This also motivates and inspires students.