On the 22nd & 23rd of November i invited two people in to my kitchen to produce and serve there own four course menus Paul Callaghan and Jeni Pim were the first two people in the last six years that i let take over my kitchen .
Head Chefs kitchens are a sacred ground we feel very territorial there is that imaginary line that only chefs are aloud cross its almost and those that have crossed it have earned the respect of the chefs of the kitchen, so to let two strangers in and take over was for me was a mix of emotions having to stand back and let two people whom only had spoken to over the phone and emailed take charge i quickly gathered that Paul and Jeni were going through similar emotions .
I had belief in the two final chefs i had chosen and that was confirmed when i met them both they both fitted well into the team at Fenn's and earned there right to cross that line and me to let leave of my the grip on my kitchen all chefs will understand this is not easy to do.
|Jeni with myself, Nick & Olivier|
|Paul with Nick & Olivier|
The first night went well and indeed we missed two (sorry) of Paul's ingredients cloves for the cabbage were missed and cider vinegar but was replaced by our lovely Stonewell cider and dash of white wine vinegar and the cloves by our special blend of spices we keep ,i really enjoyed working with Paul easy to chat too and seamed to enjoy himself once the nerves had settled down . We had a great walk around the market where he met the harvester of the mussels Jamie Dwyer of Haven shellfish whilst he was delivering to Pat O' Connells. Paul worked hard but did keep quiet and that's one thing in a kitchen "communication is the key" to quote an old boss . his food tasted exceptional fine flavours and great execution we all enjoyed tasting every bit of his menu from sauces to desserts ,and it gave me great pleasure to introduce our chef to his public , our judges that night were Billy Lyons , Elke O'Mahony and Evin O'Keeffe they awarded Paul his 3 & 1/2 stars and gave him some wonderful complements and encouragement the main thing that struck them was this was his first time in a professional kitchen he wowed with his food and set the bar for "Chef Du Jour"
Next up was Jeni she could not wait to get into the kitchen and also bought some petite fours with her to sweeten us up , again like Paul she settled straight into the kitchen she was very focused in what she wanted and instructed us well with Jeni we had issues with deliveries of some ingredients so time was of the essence with also minor changes in one component of her dessert from an ice cream to a parfait as we are not blessed with an ice cream machine ! Jeni's service had to have a different strategy as we 30 booked on the a la carte as well as the 20 on Jeni's menu but hands down to Jeni and the team they made it work . Again i got great satisfaction by introducing my chef to her waiting customers and the judges of the evening Billy Lyons, Margret Smith and Micheal Logan again they were amazed by the food and gave Jeni great complements and thoughts on her menu and it was a joy to hand her her four and 1/2 stars she had pipped Paul by one star so Jeni heads on to the cook off in April.
It was an fantastic two days in Fenn's the atmosphere Paul & Jeni created both in the kitchen and in the restaurant was amazing there menus delighted and there abilities in cooking put to the test where they came out with flying colours ! now that they have the uniforms there welcome any time to Cork to hang out in the kitchen cant wait for the next round in January !! congratulations Paul & Jeni and thank you for taking part.
i must end with a massive thank you to our judges on the nights to River Wines to Ummnum Cork and Micheal Wall Jewelry for providing great prizes and to all the tweeters and facbookers who made the two nights success !! Go Raibh Míle Maith Agaibh