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Monday, 29 April 2013

Young Chefs to Watch: Rising Star Aaron Ashmore

Words & Photography by Simeen Kadi

At 21 Aaron Ashmore has achieved more than most. He has worked in the kitchens of Angela Hartnett’s Murano, competed in Masterchef, The Professionals, making it to the tough semi-finals and, more recently, bagged himself a highly prized place in the kitchen of Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. And all this has happened not simply through Aaron’s steely determination and commitment to hard graft – but because he is a very good cook.

While at the Berkeley his skill is put to good use in delivering Marcus Wareing’s culinary vision, I recently had the chance to experience Aaron’s cooking in a 7-course meal devised entirely by him. Helped by his friend Michal Majewski, another aspiring chef currently at the Ritz, Aaron showed 40 diners some deft culinary technique and flavour combinations. The evening was organised by Grub Club, a new dining venture on the London scene which aims to connect new, creative chefs with food lovers at pop-ups in interesting and unused venues around the capital.

Our first course was Smoked Egg, Cod Brandade and Hazelnuts with the egg yolk smoked just enough so as not to be too heavy when mixed into the brandade – the flavours matching beautifully. The hazelnuts were there to take away some of the richness.

Cured salmon came with a topping of ikura sprinkled with horseradish and a slick of grassy olive oil. The chicken was the best dish for me, the meat poached so it was moist and full of flavour. It came in a baked potato consommé which has to be my favourite way of enjoying a baked potato – all the earthy flavour with none of the stodgy carbs. The dish was helped along with generous shavings of truffle.

A crisply fried cube of spiced pulled pork worked very well with thin slices of fennel and a crackling hat.

The first dessert of pineapple, chilli and Prosecco was too heavy on the Prosecco cream with not enough chilli; a good enough pudding but not as exciting as it sounded on the menu. 
Then came a dish of marinated cubes of watermelon with a cucumber and lemon sorbet. Refreshing and clean flavours which belied the work put into achieving it.

Finally, we had a rich chocolate cream spiced with cardamom and served with a ginger and caramel tuile. The banana and peanuts were a good flavour addition but were slightly too blunt served in their natural state – but a lovely sweet all the same.

To match the meal, we enjoyed wines from Domaine Saint Hilaire, a wine estate and gorgeous Bed & Breakfast in the Languedoc owned by a British family. Son Daniel James was on hand to give us a light-hearted introduction to the wines.

Add to the mix some amazing card tricks from the magic genius Darius Ziatabari and we had all the makings of a great night out.

Find out more about Grub Club here
Follow Aaron Ashmore on @a_ashmore

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