Parson's Restaurant Waltham Abbey

On a usual Friday night I would be laying on the sofa, kicking my feet up and watching the usual rubbish on British Television.
This Friday gone was a bit different however, after many conversations with a very elegant fine dining restaurant I was given an opportunity to find out what happens in a typical service in a busy restaurant.

Prep work begins
From walking in the doors I was welcomed at 6 pm by a charming lady who was dressed sharply and presented herself for any royalty. As I told her I was here to see Ade (the executive chef) I was nervous and excited, nervous because I was entering a playground where I could look very stupid and excited knowing I would be watching a future multi-Michelin starred chef in action. Ade was not present at the time as he was dealing with other business within the restaurant, however as I was politely asked to wait as the young lady went to speak to the chef in charge, it gave me a reminder of my previous eating experience within Parsons.
The napkins were ironed, the table cloths were crisp the wood work on the chairs were polished and every waiter and waitress was dressed good enough for a wedding.
The lady returned and I was warmly invited to follow her to the kitchen and meet Bis, who was more than polite as he said "Thank you so much for coming in, it is a pleasure meeting you today!" Instantly I felt welcomed entering their work stations, as I also felt I may be getting in their way.

Calm before the storm

He introduced me to local apprentices first Reece who works on the starters, Kye a 15 year old who is training for pastry and Andrew a hard working kitchen porter, who all gave me a warm welcome.
The delivery came in and every thing was perfection! The rib of beef's fat marbling was like an oil painting, the lamb was like butter and the fish was so fresh it smelt like the fresh sea water of the Mediterranean ocean.

The main man entered the building and the mood suddenly changed in a positive way of course. The prep work rate had gone and everyone was buzzing for the first order! At this time I thought I had outstayed my welcome and politely asked if Ade would like me to leave? His response was "No! Now you will watch and learn!" Out came the Chef's knife and he sharpened it like Zorro was slashing his 'Z' across his enemy.

Bis on meat preparation

Award winning Rib of Beef
First orders came in and instantly faces were serious and the tempo picked up! As I was trying to watch and learn I also had to learn to run backwards to avoid getting in the Chef's way! Fillets of steaks were thrown in the oven, Vegetables were being finished off... bur blanc sauces thrown in the pot, sauces were being reduced it was like a well organised dance were everyone had to work to everyone's pace or orders could be messed up.

The way the dishes were presented was better than any Damien Hurst art work, the colours were bright and fresh, the smells was like an aroma which could put you in a trance and the ingredients was of the finest local ingredients.

Kye on Potato duty
The desserts were equally fantastic! Very impressive work from the young apprentices and it was a great example of how Parsons put faith in them to build confidence in them and which then reflects in the food they are serving.

Ade a former employee who learnt under Gordon Ramsay was totally different to how I expected him to be in a service. He was calm and focused and didn't voice any stress to any of the apprentices. Maybe the stereotype is most chefs would swear, talk down to the commies etc...however nothing like that came from him and to be honest I wasn't surprised as the kitchen is in such good spirits and Ade organises them like a unit nothing like that is necessary.

At the end of the service the kitchen was on for a full clean and this was something Ade was big on! Clean kitchen clean food! If I have learn't anything from my experience from that night it is, I recommend anyone who is self taught to watch just how much work goes into a service before even dreaming about opening a restaurant! As I was talking to the chefs they said "It's not as easy as it looks is it?" I had to reply with a laugh as doing a service which wasn't even full was tiring and I was just watching.

If you want to book a table at Parsons Restaurant you can for more information go on Twitter @parsonswa and even Facebook.

As a good will gesture I was given a piece of Foie Grais, which was quite intimidating at first.
This is obviously something I won't eat every day, so I thought I would research how to cook it and hope to do it justice, in respects to their kind gift.

In case you've never heard of it, Foie Grais is a Goose or Duck's liver which is fed to the point that their liver is virtually fat. It is a very fine ingredient and it is found on a lot of fine dining restaurants menus.
If you choose to do this recipe, which I'm sure loads of you will be then here is the ingredients...

This is a great starter by the way! Serve this up on a date and you'll be stuck with her or him for life!

Dash of Chinese five spice
Pinch of Pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of crushed up dried thyme

Foie Grais
2 conference pears (Cored, cut into eighths and peeled and leave in cold water to stop browning)
*you can do this with Braeburn Apples*
A few knobs of butter
A few tablespoons of caster sugar
A good lug of brandy or ginger wine

Chuck the five spice, pepper and salt into a bowl

OK, this is relatively simple! Get a frying pan hot....throw in the butter.....chuck in the pears in and sautee, this will happen in season with pepper and chuck in the sugar.

Now when the pears are caramelised.....chuck in the brandy....CAREFUL!! Now either light the brandy or Ginger Wine with a match.....or hover the edge near the hobs flame. This needs to be done to remove the harsh alcohol taste, we only want the flavour. Chuck in the Tarragon and put in a bowl and leave in an oven to keep warm.

Now....heat a sharp knife up!! And cut the Foie Grais in portions width ways......season it with the spice mix and wipe your pan clean! You do not need any extra oil as this is very fatty (understatement) now get the pan quite hot and put the biggest sizes in first and then the smallest.....keep your eyes on this at all times! This will turn to nothing in literally seconds! Once you've coloured the first side of the Foie Grais then flip it over....this should be a nice golden brown colour.....with a spoon bast the Foie Grais over and over press the Foie Grais with your finger and check the should be soft but still have some give....put on a plate serve with your pears and enjoy....I think many wine experts would choose a nice fruity red wine or something rather than my Fosters but hey??

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and if you happen to try this recipe or realistically try any of my others, give me a shout on @spurs_cook

Thanks again and see you soon


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