Next month Simon Young of London's Jumeirah Carlton Tower will host the 2007 Chef Conference. In preparation of the event, last month he took Amanda Afiya to Scotland to source some produce for the occasion
Many chefs will tell you that cooking for the trade is one of the biggest challenges they will ever face in their career. For Simon Young, executive chef of London's Jumeirah Carlton Tower, one such trial comes next month when he will cook for 250 chefs at the 2007 Chef Conference.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Chef Conference is one of the most important dates in the culinary calendar. "My team and I are very excited about the Chef Conference," enthuses Young. "Why? Because my kitchen deserves recognition for the banqueting product and it will be great to have 200-plus chefs coming to the Jumeirah Carlton Tower. I'm looking forward to the feedback afterwards."
In order to source the best possible produce for the event, which takes place on Monday 14 May, Young took time out of his busy schedule last month to visit a couple of key suppliers, both based in Scotland. Young has always maintained strong links with his suppliers and states that he talks to most of the main ones on a daily basis, particularly if there's a special event on the horizon.
While other members of the team are responsible for placing orders, Young insists that his personal contact with suppliers is crucial at a property such as the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, with its exceptionally high demands for premium produce. However, he says that the whole team boosts their knowledge of raw produce where and when possible. "We like to get out once a month," he explains, "such as early visits to Billingsgate or Smithfield," adding that this gives the team a chance to refresh their purchasing skills, such as looking for top-quality fish with moist eyes and gills, or detailed marbling in beef.
Trips to Scotland, like the one that took place last month, are less frequent, but equally important. Dumfries-based beef supplier Buccleuch and Loch Fyne, in Clachan, Argyll, both supply their prime products to the Jumeirah Carlton Tower. "I've used them both for a long time," Young says. "They have supplied the Jumeirah for many years and I used them before I joined the hotel, when I was working at the Great Eastern hotel (also in London).
"With Loch Fyne, the method of smoking is as natural as you can get - no dyes, no chemicals. The fact that they use whisky barrel shavings gives it a lovely taste, while Buccleuch are so passionate and proud about their beef, I would be reluctant not to use it in the Rib Room. Beef is something we have to get right in the Rib Room." Serving 30-40 ribs of beef a week, Young says that most of the major meat suppliers in London are looking for the Jumeirah Carlton Tower's business.
At the conference, products from both suppliers will be used throughout the day and into the evening, when a five-course dinner will take place. At registration, for example, delegates will be welcomed by croissants, brioche, muffins and Loch Fyne salmon and cream cheese bagels, among many other offerings. At lunch, among the delicacies will be roast rib of Buccleuch beef with mini Yorkshire puddings, creamed horseradish and a selection of mustards and Loch Fyne classic smoked salmon and oysters, while at dinner, canapés will include bread sticks with Loch Fyne salmon, soft goats' cheese and chive cress and Loch Fyne oyster spoons with pickled cucumber and sour cream.
The recipes featured here illustrate how Young uses this Scottish produce at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, while the Chef Conference will demonstrate how his team puts it to great effect in a banqueting situation. "Cooking for an industry-facing event will enhance my team's careers and, in terms of the food product, my aim is to make sure it's the best Chef Conference ever. If it is, everyone will benefit." He concludes: "We hope that we have 200 top people from the industry saying ‘wow, that was great'."
To view more photos from the Buccleuch Estate and Loch Fyne hover over each thumbnail to reveal the full picture.
• If you would like to book a place for the Chef Conference, please call Eric Williams on 020 8652 8680 or go to www.caterersearch.com/chefconference
Chef conference dinner
- Canapés (Jumeirah Carlton Tower)
- Curried mussel soup with a fish dumpling (Andrew Turner, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey)
- Seared organic shorthorn beef, foraged greens and salsify salad, roast marrowbone toast (Nigel Haworth, Northcote Manor, Langho, Lancashire)
- Home-smoked lobster, warm herb and lime butter sauce (Andrew Fairlie, Andrew Fairlie@Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire)
- Roast loin of Romney Marsh lamb, sweetbread and morel mushroom pithivier, pea purée and English asparagus in Suffolk bacon (Simon Young, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London)
- Tartine of rhubarb with pecan nuts, white chocolate and crystallised ginger parfait (Hywel Jones, Lucknam Park, Colerne, Wiltshire)
Caterer and Hotelkeeper and the Jumeirah Carlton Tower would like to thank the following companies for their support of the 2007 Chef Conference: Naturally Best, Blend, Premier Foods (Quorn and Branston), First Choice Coffee, Buccleuch, Loch Fyne, Classic Fine Foods, Fairfax Meadow, Simply Sausages, Secretts Direct, Cheese Cellar, London Bakery, Chamberlain and Thelwell and the Essex Pig Company.