Kitchen secrets revealed by Richard Onslow head chef
It's part of a magician's code never to share the secrets of their tricks.
But the same cannot be said for chefs.
A plethora of popular TV shows - from Masterchef to the Great British Bake Off - draw massive audiences on the back of lifting the cooking pot lid on supreme cuisine and getting amateurs to rise to the occasion like a great souffle.
Taking a leaf out the book, The Richard Onslow at Cranleigh unveiled the autumn menu with its own head chef Tom Ebbon giving a unique insight into how the dishes are prepared.
Staged in the restaurant, he prepped and cooked three dishes, shared some tricks of the trade and presented guests with a recipe pack as well.
To complete the magic, after each presentation of a starter, main and dessert, guests were treated to the meal elegantly paired with appropriate wines.
The demo menu began with pan-fried Scallops, Black Pudding and Pea Purée; followed by a main of Confit Pork Belly, Pig Cheek, Potato Rösti, Kale and Apple Jus and a dessert of Molten Chocolate and Hazelnut Pot with Raspberry Sorbet.
“Tom is a talented chef who has cooked in some high profile places such as the world-famous Belfry and the Michelin starred pub restaurant of The Cross, Kenilworth, and we are lucky to have him here running our kitchen,” said Colin Barber, general manager of The Richard Onslow.
“Now, he is putting all his skills on show and cooking while we all look on, ask questions and share some of his tricks of the trade.”
Tom had an easy presentation style and his years of experience shone through - from cooking the scallops for 45 seconds on each side in the pan to the benefits of making the pea puree in larger batches.
The puree freezes very neatly, even into ice cub sizes, and can then be added to other dishes like risotto on another occasion.
With the main, he said: “When plating this dish it’s best to place the pork belly on the rosti and the cheek on the kale as it’s a nice balance of textures and looks good when you present it to guests.”
As to wine, he advised diners to experiment. Try chilling your reds. Don’t confine yourself to white for fish. Break with tradition and find out what works for you.
There is, of course, a disadvantage to sharing all the kitchen’s secrets. You get to see just how much butter and salt finish up in the dishes. In an age which has spawned as many healthy living TV programmes as cookery ones, that can be a challenge for those diners conscious of their figures and their cholesterol.
But Thursday’s launch was as much a piece of theatre as culinary adventure - and it highlighted the skill and expertise that goes into even the simplest sounding meal.