Our talented chefs are constantly recipe testing and tasting and coming up with delicious new catering ideas. So, we recently gave five of them the challenge to showcase a special tasting menu, with each one curating their own recipes. Neil, Gary, Dean, Tom and Wes rose to the culinary challenge and treated a lucky team of The Butler’s Pantry staff to four delicious courses. This was a great opportunity for the team to showcase modern techniques, explore new ideas and get creative – in the stunning surrounds of The Sycamore Room in Dublin.
To begin our journey, we were presented with an array of amuse bouches to whet the appetite! Tom really showcased his culinary skills by serving a shot of consommé, which is notoriously difficult to get right. This was no ordinary soup; the broth was bursting with flavours from sweet summer tomatoes and fresh herbs. Wes took a more playful approach with his flavourful ‘crisp sambo’ – spring onion butter and parmesan cheese on a potato chip. Not your average crisp sambo, that’s for sure!
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Next up were our incredible starters. Our crab starter tasted like it had just come straight off the boat. A tickle of textures of asparagus and the inclusion of a Spanish specialty, jamon Iberico made this dish a real treat. A classic pairing of goat’s cheese and beetroot was taken to another level with a trendy olive clay and Neil’s skill was clearly evident with his varying methods of beetroot preparation. I can confirm first-hand that the colour on the plate was as vibrant to the eye as it was in the mouth.
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The Main Event
The main courses were an exceptional showcase of Irish artisan producers. Incredibly fresh line caught cod was wrapped in Parma ham and cooked until perfectly firm. The light and zingy wild garlic cream enhanced every mouthful while the summer fricassee of pea and samphire added a beautiful depth of flavour and texture. It was definitely my favourite dish of the evening, a symphony for the senses!
Another stand out dish was a tender rump of lamb served with braised shoulder and a crispy potato fondant. In my opinion, pea and mint are simply essential with lamb and the dish was lifted beautifully by the unusual piquant flavour of a tomato and caper jus. We were informed that the delicious Wicklow lamb was reared only 10 minutes away from our kitchens in Bray. Local Irish food really is the very best food.
Salmon is always a welcome inclusion in any summer menu and this next dish certainly set the bar high! The wild salmon was perfection with the addition of mild fennel flavour and the punchy pops of pomegranate. It tasted so light and natural and it really highlighted the fact that less is more. With ingredients as good as this, the quality clearly shines through.
Sweet to Eat
Although by this stage we were completely satisfied by our delicious dinner, the arrival of desserts to the table was an indulgence that we could not pass up. A vanilla panna cotta with strawberries, poached rhubarb, and honeycomb looked like something that belonged in an art gallery. The sweetness of the honeycomb and strawberry shard was offset perfectly by the tart rhubarb.
A plate of pure prettiness arrived to the table in the form of Gary’s lemon posset. Again quality ingredients sang out loud through every bite. The zesty lemon posset arrived with charred grapefruit and raspberries to cleanse the palate, while the meringue kisses added a delicious bite to the dish.
We finished up with an exquisite raspberry and lemon cheesecake with a crunchy coconut biscuit base. This was a modern and refreshing take on one of our classic desserts. Keep an eye out for it in the shops soon! Our amazing desserts were absolutely devoured with not one regret.
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Inspiration for the future
If you shop with us regularly, you’ll know that we make all of our food by hand and from scratch. And because our kitchen is small and flexible, we are always ready to try new ingredients and recipes. We love to make the most of seasonal produce which is the cornerstone of the food we make.
Our chef’s showcase dining experience re-affirmed the truth behind high quality dining. The key is fantastic produce handled properly, just like the chef’s do every day in our kitchens. The pure dedication and passion that our chefs devote to our recipes is evident in the gorgeous balanced flavours in our food. We can’t wait to see what dishes they produce for our customers in the coming seasons, given the chance they had to showcase some great new ideas for the Chefs Challenge event. Watch this retail space!