Eighteen chefs attended a culinary masterclass at Shoreditch-based Social Bee restaurant, hosted by inspirational chef John Lawson.
Westminster trained John Lawson started his career at La Manior Aux Quat Saisons and has worked with and for some of the best in the business, including Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay. John was appointed Executive Chef & partner of No.8 at Crown, Melbourne in September 2013.
After suffering some serious health problems, he decided to move back to the UK and set up a restaurant in his home town of Leigh-on-sea. FOOD by John Lawson is about real food, sourced locally with a focus on creativity and flavour.
John cooked two of his signature dishes from his menu, explaining the cooking techniques behind each one and talking about how his personal journey led to the opening of his restaurant. With a focus on organic and healthy ingredients, John uses locally grown seasonal food with the aim of improving health and wellbeing.
His dishes included:
– Beetroot soup made with almond milk, toasted sunflower seeds and cultured cashew cream.
– The signature ‘beef tongue and cheek’ with celeriac puree, dehydrated parsnip and red frill.
There was much chat around the importance of foods that benefit the body. John said: “Everything I cook in my restaurant is with health in mind, that’s my first focus. Our restaurant doesn’t have a menu; we have one vegetable farm and they dictate the ingredients we use. We create the dishes on what’s available – nothing is forced”. John explained how he slow cooks his meat at 55 degrees, as braising is a healthier alternative, breaking it down before our gut has too.
Seasonality influences what we put on our menus. Executive hospitality chef Chris Terry and sous chef Jack Donovan created a dish perfect for fine dining. The demonstration included the preparation of the rabbit saddle. With over 15 individual elements, the stunning dish included rabbit loin, langoustine panna cotta, langoustine mousse, pickled baby onions, baby carrots, olive snow, black pudding soil, rabbit bacon and intense rabbit jus.
Specialising in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients, Belazu were there with their latest range of products, including white balsamic vinegar, dirty martini brine and purple basil pesto. Fine food producer Town & Country gave chefs a taste of their latest products, including the ever-popular passionfruit chocolate truffles.
What they said
Business development chef, Andrew Aston said: “The masterclass can hold up to 40 chefs; we encourage any level of chef to get involved and we are seeing new faces every time which is fantastic. A couple of our brilliant producers are on hand with a select few ingredients that may be new to the chefs. It’s an opportunity to keep our chefs close to our suppliers. Keep an eye out for new dates in the training calendar”.
John commented: “To have the opportunity to speak to 30 chefs at one time is a special thing. I think sharing our journeys and experience in life is key for us to continue to grow and develop as individuals. I hope I got the chefs thinking about adversity in life and how you can always bring a positive from a negative situation if you look hard enough.”
“Understanding our duty as chefs is to be conscious about the health of our customers and that what we serve them can influence their lifestyle. Having the opportunity to speak to chefs about this is very powerful for me; we know that chefs can cook, but can they make conscious decisions for others health? Can they be the lead? I believe we should”.
Keep an eye out for our next culinary experience on the training calendar. Limited spaces available!