National Chef of the Year 2014: Russell Bateman, February 2015

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th February 2015

This is the latest in a series of regular blogs by head chef of Colettes at The Grove and winner of the National Chef of the Year 2014, Russell Bateman.

Christmas now seems a long, dim and distant memory and we are full steam ahead into a new year with all its fresh challenges. I’m pleased to report that the allergen legislation has settled into place without any problem.

Of course I’m more fortunate than some of you, as my style of food uses TSC Live RB 3mostly whole foods, with very little that really needs researching. Of course I’m talking about the fact that some places food style relies heavily on certain ethnic condiments and deciphering some of those labels can be an absolute nightmare. Obviously the key is to keep on top of any menu or dish changes, this now becomes part of daily ritual and a regular topic at pre-service staff briefings.

January saw the Hospitality show at the NEC in Birmingham. I was fortunate enough to be asked to judge the Sodexho Chef of the Year. It began with a mentor day back in November at Unilever in Leatherhead. Alyn Williams and myself were introduced to the finalist and asked to give critique on their dishes, help with a little guidance, how to improve and make them be the best they could produce on the day. It was really nice to see the guys again in Birmingham, obviously in very different circumstances to the original more relaxed environment and comfort of Unilever HQ. It was genuinely

Of course I’m more fortunate than some of you, as my style of food uses mostly whole foods, with very little that really needs researching. Of course I’m talking about the fact that some places food style relies heavily on certain ethnic condiments and deciphering some of those labels can be an absolute nightmare. Obviously the key is to keep on top of any menu or dish changes, this now becomes part of daily ritual and a regular topic at pre-service staff briefings.

>>> Read more about National Chef of the Year here

January saw the Hospitality show at the NEC in Birmingham. I was fortunate enough to be asked to judge the Sodexho Chef of the Year. It began with a mentor day back in November at Unilever in Leatherhead. Alyn Williams and myself were introduced to the finalist and asked to give critique on their dishes, help with a little guidance, how to improve and make them be the best they could produce on the day. It was really nice to see the guys again in Birmingham, obviously in very different circumstances to the original more relaxed environment and comfort of Unilever HQ. It was genuinely TSC Live RB 2nice to see so much of our advice taken on board and see the finalist progress through practise and time.

It was a great example of how a bit of advice and guidance in competition can really be the difference between winning and competing. Congratulations to all those in the competition and especially to Neil and all the other winners. I was also asked by Mr Morris to take part in TSCLive. A great event where I was asked to cook a dish and it was streamed live on The Staff Canteen’s very own YouTube channel. I arrived at the NEC on the Tuesday and had the chance to watch Paul Foster and my old boss Daniel Clifford. They were both excellent with beautiful dishes so I felt I had a lot to live up to. It’s really great to see what my peers are up to and interact with them too, everyone was really at ease and the crowd seemed to be enjoying the event.

The following day I cooked a dish from our tasting menu ‘diver caught scallops, salt baked celeriac, pickled apple, scallop and seaweed dashi’. The 30 minutes flew by and the crowd seemed very receptive to my dish which is great. Obviously these demos are a great opportunity to showcase what we do as chefs but also to see what the guests really think of what we do and how we treat food. It was my first visit to the NEC and I can honestly say I found it to be a great trade show, I thought all the NEC staff were really helpful and friendly.

Nice one Birmingham.TSC Live RB 4 Of course with the start of a new year comes new ingredients and we’re well underway with the blood orange and Yorkshire rhubarb season. Two ingredients which I love and really look forward to starting, both so versatile and delicious. We’re currently serving the rhubarb with duck and the blood orange with a cardamom and white chocolate dessert. It’s the freshness and acidity of both ingredients which is so great to see after the heavy winter months.

Of course the produce never stops changing and in the coming months we can look forward to things really changing on the ingredient front. In March I’m really excited to tell you that I’m going to be doing a guest chef dinner at Kitchen Table with James Knappet.

TSC Live RBKitchen Table is an incredible restaurant with what I think is one of the best concepts and chefs around. I’ve got the chance to write and cook a menu with James an old friend from the Petrus days for 19 guests. This will be a great way to cook together again after all these years and once again share our passion for food and cooking just like we used to. If you get the night off book a seat I promise it’ll be a top night with amazing food in a very chef friendly setting. Thanks for reading, happy cooking.

>>> Read  more of Russel's blogs here 

Russell Bateman is the National Chef of the Year, having won the competition at the Restaurant Show in October. He is head chef of The Grove in Hertfordshire and previously worked as head chef of The Feathers in Oxford. Russell joins a long line of great chefs to have won the prestigious award including Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Simon Hulstone, Mark Sargeant, Steve Love, Alyn Williams and many more.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th February 2015

National Chef of the Year 2014: Russell Bateman, February 2015