Sunday, August 08, 2010

A lovely day for a BBQ

There was not a chop, sausage or hamburger in sight. But then again, this was no ordinary BBQ. Today was the Al Fresco BBQ Demonstration hosted by Jun Tanaka, Executive Chef at "Pearl" restaurant in the Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel, a five-star property in the Marriott family of hotels.

The afternoon BBQ event was held in the Hotel's gorgeous cobbled courtyard and as if by magic, the sun shone the entire time. The weather, and the complimentary glass of champagne on arrival, got us off to a cracking start. Jun was first introduced by the restaurant manager, who is an Australian guy who warmed up the small crowd of about 40 guests with some jokes about this being the first time he's ever attended a BBQ at a 5-star hotel, but also the first time he's ever attended a BBQ in a suit! Laughter all round, everyone was in good spirits, and then Chef took the stage.

To break the ice a bit, Jun started his demonstration by joking about the BBQs that he's been to in his time, and all the typical sausage/hamburger combos he's had to eat. Phew, this is a man of the people; and obviously no stranger to the usual backyard barbie. But as he talked through the menu for the day, it was immediately clear that this was event was unlike any BBQ the rest of us had ever experienced.

The dishes we watched Jun prepare included lamb, rabbit, guinea fowl (beer can guinea fowl if you don't mind); salt bream; herb-smoked monkfish; couscous salad; green peas and broad beans on the BBQ; and even two desserts - marinated pineapple with a coconut dipping sauce; and berries with peaches and peach schnapps. Yum-mo! Recipes will be up on the restaurant's website from tomorrow, so you definitely need to check them out.

Not only did we get to watch Jun prepare everything, the best part of all was that afterwards we retired to some high tables nearby to actually taste small plates of each dish. I thought that at best, we would be tasting small bite-size portions of the dishes, but no...we basically got a tasting menu. Each dish was brought out separately on fine china plates with proper silver cutlery and all. It was all very civilised, plentiful, delicious and totally worth the 30GBP ticket price!

I went along to the event with a girl from work and Jun came over afterwards to introduce himself to us. I am more convinced than ever that I need to be friends with him, because he is cute, smart and desperately talented. Plus he's so darn friendly, it's just a perfect combination. I didn't ask Jun any cooking-related questions, because I didn't want to seem star-struck. Nor did I have my photo taken with him, even though I really wanted to and I had brought my camera with me just for that reason. Ugh, whatever. Play it cool, lady, play it cool.

I know it's not the last time I'll see Jun because I've decided that if this al fresco taster was any insight into Chef's talent, I'm definitely going to have to save my pennies and visit "Pearl" for a gorgeous full-sized restaurant meal. It's only a matter of time.


Batreg said...

Well all I can say lady is .. don't get too used to BBQ food served on bone china - it's paper plates all the way when you get back home x

kilabyte said...

... and kitchen towel as a serviette, and tomato sauce from a plastic bottle .... yeah, you tell 'er Reggie.

coco cooks said...

Chef groupie.:-)