Thursday, 24 November 2011

Chef du Jour

Head Chef Experience

On Tuesday 22nd of November I had the chance of having a head chef experience in No.5 Fenns Quay in Cork City. I had entered a Chef du Jour competition I had spotted through Facebook that Head Chef Kate Lawlor had very cleverly put together where entrants emailed her with a 4 course menu of their choosing which had to be under 22.50euro per person. So I thought i'd give it a go.

My menu as follows:

Amuse Bouche- Cherry tomato stuffed with basil pesto and goats cheese on a salted cracker 

Starter- Mussels in cider, bacon and garlic

Mains- Slow roasted pork belly in sage and garlic, potato and horseradish puree, braised red cabbage and bramley apple with a mulled wine Jus

Dessert- A trio of desserts- White chocolate cheesecake, mixed berry and rum crumble, meringue tower with vanilla cream and strawberries.

So a few weeks later I got an email to tell me that my menu had been chosen along with a menu by Jeni Pimm from Co. Waterford, I had been given the first night and Jeni the second. I emailed off my Recipes in full to Head Chef Kate and let the excitement kick in by broadcasting my news all over Facebook and Twitter, all that was left to do was practice my dishes and wait.
Prep work

On Tuesday morning I headed down to Cork City with the help of Tiffany (my rather posh Sat Nav) and had a quick lunch with Kate in the restaurant and then took a walk around the city and into the English market, which I could have spent all day in to be honest- I will be back! Then back to the restaurant to get started on prep work for the evenings service.
Before 'Kick-off'

Hard at work with Head Chef Kate

The kitchen staff were more than friendly and I felt like I had just slotted into their team, nothing was any trouble for them to help me with, Especially when I messed up my first attempt of making my meringues through nerves. But they calmly talked me through it and second batch turned out perfect.
Plating up

Amuse Bouche

There was a few ingredients missing from my recipes which, for me, made a few elements of the mains not turn out how I had wanted and how I knew would have been superb. No cider vinegar or cloves for the Braised cabbage which I really knew that snap was missing when tasting it and had to improvised on the mulled wine Jus which was a world away from how mine usually is, a rich, deep red glossy and nearly syrupy Jus which sets the taste buds dancing. Unfortunately what we came up with was weak and looked split, nice flavour but not my creation. And lastly the potatoes were really not up to how I would have liked them, I had wanted a smooth creamy puree but ended up with mash with lumps... And I know I was there as acting Head Chef and should have protested more on these subjects but with nerves and the whole new experience of it all I let it go.
 Mussels with bacon and garlic

Plating up the mains

The good folk that turned out to taste my meal were such a lovely bunch of people. some were chefs and others restauranters  and the comments i got of them at the end really blew me away. One chef had said that my standard was up there with fine dining restaurant standards and another lady said she'd be happy to serve my food in any of her establishments. I came away from the night with a great sense of achievement and a score of 3.5.
Taking a break and taking in the great comments

Awarded my stars with Kate

Jeni was up next night and from the pictures I seen on twitter cooked up a storm of beautiful looking dishes along with an extra treat of Petits Fours for the judges. Jeni scored a whopping 4.5 and I really do wish her all the best for the future and really hope she enjoyed her night as much as I did, Hats off to you Jeni and congrats!!!

There have been a few reviews of the nights from some of the judges Elke O'Mahony and with Billy Lyons just simply click on their names to have a read.

I think what Kate has done here is such a fantastic and creative opportunity for the 'average Joe' like myself, I wish to thank her for the experience and wish her all the best with her wonderful establishment.
This has really given me a boost of confidence with my cooking and will only drive me onwards and upwards, I am still unsure if I would like to pursue a career in a kitchen as cooking for me is all about relaxing and enjoying taking the time to produce the food you want to produce but all in all it really was a fantastic night I will never forget and a wonderful head chef experience


  1. Well done Sir! Good on you for having the balls to submit a menu and follow through! Mouth is watering at the sound of your amuse bouche & main! :)

  2. Ah thanks very much :) I'm still proud of it :)

  3. Well done, Paul. You're a brave man.

  4. Cheers Billy, appreciated your honest judging, fair play to you!

  5. Well done chef,u certainly looked focused, I bet u had a blast, you know I fancy some moules now, Tony O

  6. Thanks Tony, could do with some myself but i got Risotto on my mind tonight!! Had a ball yeah, great time!

  7. Well done. It sounds like a great adventure.


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