If you ever thought that you could never cook like those top chefs on Great British Menu and cooking shows featuring Michelin starred chefs, think again. I found out recently that you really don’t need to attend a culinary school to be able to recreate stunning Modern European fine dining dishes.
I was invited along to an evening of Interactive Cookery at Aveqia, after hearing about them from the Visit Sweden team. Aveqia is a Swedish restaurant concept imported to London and has set up home near Ludgate Circus, down the road from my old office. I know this area around Fleet Street quite well as I used to slave away as a desk slave just up the road and there was a dearth of good restaurants nearby.
Aveqia is part cookery school and part restaurant. The converted space has been transformed into a bar and two large kitchens equipped by Gaggenau and Siemens and all the kitchen gadgets that a foodie would want to fill their own kitchens with.The design is contemporary, with cleans line and quirky wall paper adding a touch of kitsch but the stunning kitchens dominate the eat/cook space.
On arriving to cook our 4 course meal, we were offered Krug champagne (another partner) and some canapes. The founders, Johan Kadar and David Berggren, introduces us to the concept and the 2 chefs/teachers for the night.
Both the chef who were teaching our groups have impressive CVs which include several Michelin starred kitchens across Europe. Our group of 12 people were then split into 4 teams to tackle each course, led by one of the two chefs.
My team was allocated the second course, Blackened reindeer with flamed pork belly, chanterelles and a brown butter and lingonberry vinaigrette. I think it took about 5 minutes to explain all the cooking processes required for this dish and it involved using the blow torch, the foamer and a multitude of pots and pans. So the background of Abba tunes, our team set off to conquer our list of tasks with the help of the very talented Celine who devised the dish.
- First we had to smear a layer of honey and blacken the juniper smoked belly pork with the blow torch
- The reindeer from Northern Sweden is spiced with rosé pepper, juniper, thyme and garlic, then seared in a pan and finally roasted on a low heat in the oven
- Meanwhile, part 1 of the chanterelles were cleaned and pan friend with butter and thyme until golden brown
- Chanterelles part 2 was made into a cream to create the “foam” by frying the chanterelles as before, then adding the thinly sliced potatoes, stirred, reduced, pass through sieve and put into a siphon
- A mixture of pickled vegetables were next. Onions sliced, cabbage rounds cut out, boiled for a minute. Add chanterelles and onions in pickling liquid, add cabbage just before serving
- Make porcini crackers -Cut out 12 circles from the brick sheets. Melt the butter. Brush the circles with butter and sprinkle with porcini powder, salt and thyme leaves. Bake under pressure in the oven at 200°C until the crackers are golden brown (5 min). Phew.
This is the finished dish plated up: (Looks pretty fancy doesn’t it?)
The portion was quite big for a second starter but the unctuous chanterelle cream pulled together the flavours of the reindeer, the contrasting texture of the pickled vegetables and the highly flavoured porcini cracker really well.This dish was voted the favourite on the night.
Each dish was paired with a different wine chosen by the chef.
The dishes that the other team prepared were:
First Course – Smoked perch with lemon cured scallop, bouquet garni, lovage and consomme. Watching them prepare this, learnt another lesson. You can make a work of art out of ordinary vegetables like leek, seen here with piped in with mayonnaise.
Third Course – Scotch Beef Sirloin with truffle potato puree, sous-vide brisket, late summer vegetables and deep-fried potato peel. The truffle potato puree served with the beef was sensational, smooth creamy, buttery mash with that unmistakable truffle flavour softly permeating your tastebuds, heightening the pleasure of this dish.
For pudding, we had Chocolate cream with bergamot, fresh and dried meringue and sea-buckthorn sorbet. I saw the other team painstakingly piping those little meringues dotted around the plate. A multitude of textures, aromas and flavours ran through this dish, but not one overwhelming the other. The sea buckthorn sorbet was not as sharp as I expected and added a tart contrast to the rich chocolate cream. I think that team did a great job in making this dish look sensational too.
The Aveqia experience was brilliant fun and I came away with a great sense of achievement. I can see how this can be a great team building activity and also a very good alternative to client entertainment too. If you would like to try your hand at creating some inspired Swedish/Modern European food, book in for an Active cooking session.
Aveqia are doing a Christmas menu from 19th November.
AVEQIA London costs £155 per person for 8-12 people (including their own chef, kitchen and dining room, sparkling wine and two Amuse-bouche per person, wine whilst cooking, four courses and an AVEQIA apron) and £95 for individual bookings (including sparkling wine and amuse-bouche on arrival, four courses, and an apron)
2 St. Bride street
London EC4A 4AD
Tel: 020 3651 2972
Slow Food Kitchen was a guest of Aveqia