A chef's diary with Ruth Hansom, February 2017

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th February 2017

This year sees us welcome our newest blogger to The Staff Canteen. Young National Chef of the Year 2017 winner, Ruth Hansom, will be giving us a monthly insight into her life as a chef at Michelin-starred the Ritz as well as many other exciting opportunities she is set to experience in the coming year.

In her second blog Ruth talks about being involved in the springboard charity panto, her trip to Norway with Norwegian Seafood and cooking with  the likes of Michel Roux Jr, Simon Hulstone and Glynn Purnell.

Ruth montage
Madrid Fusion and Mercado de San Miguel

Wow! It’s been a crazy few weeks I am not really sure where to start. So, on January 20, I was involved in a charity pantomime – Springdarella. It was organised by the Springboard charity with the amazing CEO Anne Pierce having a big role herself. The cast was full of industry experts; Chris Penn, Will Torrent, Johnathan Raggett and David Noble to name a few. The script was hilarious and the audience really got into the panto spirit…ohh yes they did!

The following week I had the opportunity to go to Madrid Fusion as part of my Young National Chef of the Year prize. It’s a food festival showcasing produce and some of the world’s best chefs. We spent the days learning at the show and the evening soaking up the culture, including finding what is apparently the world’s oldest restaurant, Botin which opened in 1725. We also visited Mercado de San Miguel. The most amazing market filled with food and wine stalls. The cheese is a must! You don’t want to go to Madrid without visiting this place!

Wanting to support the Springboard charity, I often give myself as a prize for their auctions – I have to be careful how I word that one! I go into someone’s home and cook for them and their friends and family. It’s great for my development because I get to test out dishes and techniques that I may want to use in  competition. It’s also really satisfying to see your guest’s first reaction – it’s the truest form of feedback. On Saturday, January 28, I had one of these dinners so with the help of my sous chef, Cormac, I produced a five course menu for the highest bidder. It just happened to be Trevor Burke, MD of Exclusive Ranges, so of course his kitchen was amazing to work in.

You may be wondering what is my obsession with the charity. In 2012 I competed in FutureChef a competition for under 16 year olds. After competing in the final held at Westminster Kingsway I was offered a place to study there – I think I may have bit their hands off with my response! So I moved to London and began to study and work part time with Frederick Forster who had been a judge. Springboard were so helpful with my move to London and would always check in with what I was up to. During my first year Springboard asked me to speak at one of their annual dinners held at The Ritz.

I was given a tour and got to meet the chef. I was totally in awe of the whole place and knew that that was where I wanted to work. I applied to The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Apprenticeship and requested that my placement was The Ritz. I think my college were a little bit dubious at first, but I’m still here nearly four years on working under John Williams, the chef that inspired me in just two sentences! I love to be able to give something back to them knowing that other people are getting help and inspiration in the same way I did and will do so in any way that I can.

>>> Read more from Ruth here

On February 2, I had another prize trip, this time in Norway with Norwegian Seafood to celebrate the Skrei season. I was

fish montage
Norwegian Seafood to celebrate the Skrei season

accompanied on the trip by some great chefs so as you can imagine there was never a dull moment. On the first evening we stayed in chalets right next to the Fjord. There were hot tubs among the snow so we were able to look out for the Northern lights. The next day involved fishing for skrei and cod – some of the guys caught some beauties! We returned to the port where the factory grades the cod and decides if it is good enough to be Skrei. While we were there we saw a bunch of children aged between 8 and 15 who come to factory after work to cut out the cheeks and tongues.

They are paid by the head so they were rapid workers. It was an amazing thing to watch! We went upstairs to the fishermen’s lodge where their wives had prepared the most traditional Norwegian dinner. Skrei, its roe, its liver and its stomach served simply with buttered potatoes and raw onion. The liver was delicious and something I’ve never tried before. They eat a lot of it here as it’s a great source of vitamins. In the winter there is basically no sun light so it’s hard to grow fruit and veg so the Skrei offal is important for their nutrients.

Later that evening we all made dinner for each other, we were given an array of fresh seafood and even a moose haunch. A kitchen full of chefs fighting for space and ingredients, it did get quite competitive. Cooking a dish for the likes of Michel Roux Jr, Simon Hulstone and Glynn Purnell is a bit daunting for a young chef at the best of times, let alone after a few glasses of the local beer! As the produce was so fresh I just salt crusted and baked some of the Skrei and served it with roasted tomatoes, olives, shallot and basil. We continued the night in Tromso centre, the most northern city on the map.

Right, I better go. Saturday service…check on!

Have a great month, Ruth x

Ruth Hansom
Ruth Hansom

Ruth Hansom is a chef at The Ritz Hotel in London. Ruth is no stranger to competitions having competed in the Young National Chef of the Year contest twice, before winning the 2017 title. Ruth has been at the Ritz for three years where she started out as an apprentice before working her way to become a chef.

Former Springboard FutureChef winner always knew she wanted to be a chef. She was just 15 years old when she came to London and competed in the FutureChef final at Westminster Kingsway College where she later studied.
She became a Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate in 2014 and is regarded as ‘one to watch’ in the industry.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th February 2017

A chef's diary with Ruth Hansom, February 2017