Three Star Dinner

An obsession with cooking can drive you to some odd places. So it was that for the Mallards’ latest meal I had arranged to meet up with ‘a guy I knew’ in a bar to score a bag of mysterious white powder. Like some coke-addled hobo I clutched at it as he handed it to me before quickly putting it in my bag. This is what I’ve been reduced to, hooked on cooking, seeking furtive meetings for ‘specialist’ ingredients. The Shame.

The guy who was ‘hooking’ us up, was actually a rather nice chap called Mike, one-third of Food Designers Blanch and Shock. I met them through the Experimental Food Society and he kindly answered my plea for help. The contents of the bag were also pretty harmless, it was pectin, typically used for home jam-making. The strange setting does encourage me to think that somewhere a SWAT team is breaking down a granny’s door only to find a homely day with the grandkids, rather than the coke lab they were hoping to find.

The pectin was a critical ingredient for our latest meal, the Three Star Dinner, at which we were aiming to ape stars of the culinary firmament. Each of the dishes was inspired by a chef and an item they serve at their restaurant. The teamsheet was looking pretty strong with a couple of young guns, including a bit of talent from Northern Europe, as well as some leathery faced old pros:

Hay Smoked Herring with Pickled LemonHeston Blumenthal

 Tartare of beef and wood sorrel, tarragon and juniper Rene Redzepi

Roast Sea Bass with Egg, Mushroom and Bone MarrowMagdalen Mallards

Roast saddle and leg of rabbit on cauliflower, haricot blanc and baby gem lettuce, with a red wine sauce – Gordon Ramsey

Taffety TartHeston Blumenthal

Petits Fours: Salted Butter Caramels, Cardamom and Coffee Macarons, Chocolate and PassionfruitAlain Ducasse

I’m aware I’ve shifted metaphors from drug addicts to football but let’s just go with it. Below are some of the dishes and our efforts in the kitchen. I briefly considered placing them next to photos of the originals but in order to desperately save face I’ve decided against it.


Each course had a different drink paired with it, and we kicked off with a classic Whisky Sour. We took the unusual step to pair our main course with an ale not a wine, the Hopping Hare, to help showcase a great British brew. This is something we plan on evolving further with the drinks at the dinners, as we try to avoid falling into the default setting of most dinner parties.

The dinner went as well as we could have expected. There were some minor hitches, like the pate de fruit not setting but these were handled pretty well. With that particular issue we hid the resulting jam in the nib of a dark chocolate hemisphere, like the top of a Jaffa Cake.

We had some brilliant help from Ayad Al-Izzi and Jyoti Wood on the evening to serve the food and they did a stunning job. The chefs Emma Saragossi, David Boycott, Josh Rhodes, Oliver Keers and Sam Viner were brilliant in the kitchen and the food looked fantastic.

The next event will be our Christmas Feast and planning is already underway, The dinner should be in the first week of December so we hope you will be able to join us then. Below are some more photos of the dinner and the beautiful guests who attended.

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