National Chef of the Year 2013: Hayden Groves - Penny's pastry pop up

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th August 2014

This is the latest in a series of regular blogs by executive chef of BaxterStorey and winner of the National Chef of the Year 2013, Hayden Groves - Penny's pastry pop up. 

One of the lesser known and certainly unpublicised prizes of winning National Chef of the Year is the chance to promote your team, I guess you could say using the title to its fullest extent. 

Hayden Groves, National Chef of the Year

Hayden Groves, National Chef

of the Year 2013 

Throughout my career it was great to achieve a personal goal or win a medal, however one of the most satisfying aspects of my job is to see a talented young chef do well or progress in the industry after spending their formative years with me. Perhaps watching a hard working porter make their first tentative steps towards a chef, or as I call it ‘playing dress up’. 

As I start to type this piece I have just had my 40th birthday and my thoughts turn to some of those individuals and the pride that I have had in having helped shape them over the years.  Thai born Penny Jirayuwatana completed her training at the culinary institute of America then went on to work in Chicago and at Jean George in New York, Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental and then Browns hotel both in the UK. She has worked for me in two kitchens over the recent few years. There are very few people I have met in my 24 year career whom are more foodie than Penny whether it's her excitement over the latest opening, buying a cook book or visiting food markets she is always out to eat and learn in her spare time.

Penny is someone who has tirelessly worked to support others and who I felt deserved her chance in the spotlight. So when a conversation with pastry chef Adam Degg at the springboard future chef competition turned to his own recent pop up, eureka, I had a prime candidate.  I then discovered that the organiser was Peter Butler someone that I have worked with on the mince pie charity project, even better!  Entitled ‘After Hours’, Peters mission is to champion modern, innovative desserts and pastry chefs to make available high quality pastry and desserts Hayden Groves, National Chef of the Yearaccessible to all. 

These popular evenings are always well attended and previous chefs involved have come from The Fat Duck, Wild Honey, The Ledbury, House of Commons and Opera Tavern to name a few.  There has been some great coverage in the Evening Standard and Financial Times amongst others. 

The brief was 4 signature desserts and a petit four. Ozone specialist coffee roastery in Shoreditch was the venue, an area of town which has emerged over the last couple of years as a foodie hotspot. A date of the 6th June was suggested, which was only three weeks away. At first Penny was nervous about the short lead in and was slightly hesitant, however I must have been persuasive, or used a Jedi mind trick, as she picked up the gauntlet. 

To deliver 4 different plated desserts for 64 guests over two short services
was no mean feat, therefore Penny needed some back up. She chose well, Gaku a pastry chef she worked with at Browns and now a CDP at The Greenhouse and Peter Ley, everyone's favourite wingman! Well I am probably slightly biased as he was my assistant for last year’s National Chef of the Year final.
 Hayden Groves, National Chef of the year 2013

Penny and her mini team produced a menu focusing on classic French techniques with Thai flavours. Strawberry & Thai basil, Poached apricot, jasmine, ginger & pistachio, Banana, smoked caramel, pineapple & coconut sorbet and my particular favourite a Guanaja 70% chocolate croquant, black sesame ice cream and red cherries.  It felt strange to be the other side of the pass and not to mention eating as a guest, I could liken it to being a proud father at your child’s sports day.

The event was a success and a great showcase for Penny’s skills with excellent guest feedback and images being shared on social media over the weekend and following days. You can follow Penny on twitter @pennyjira for more photos and food related banter.  Images with kind permission by photographer- Giulia Mule  

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

Hayden Groves  

Hayden Groves-FIHayden Groves is the current Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year, having won last year’s competition at the Restaurant Show in October. He is the executive chef at contract caterers BaxterStorey previously having worked as the executive chef for Lloyds of London. Hayden Groves joins a long line of great chefs to have won the prestigious award including Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-MatthiasSimon HulstoneMark SargeantSteve LoveAlyn Williams and many more. You can follow Hayden on Twitter @Hayden1974  

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th August 2014

National Chef of the Year 2013: Hayden Groves - Penny's pastry pop up