I’m always in awe of the Masterchef contestants when they’re presented with ingredients and they have to create a dish (if you haven’t seen this, amateur cooks compete over a series of weeks to win the coveted title of Masterchef) so when we were invited to attend an event at Cook at Purewell’s Neff cookery theatre where Simon Hallam (Head Chef of Thomas Tripp in Christchurch) and Ian Hewitt (Hewitt’s Home Dining) would be battling it out in a head to head timed competition it was an opportunity not to be missed!
Purewell Electrical is a local family business based in Christchurch that was originally set up 60 years ago to sell electrical goods. It has since expanded into selling kitchens, opened a cookshop and the cookery theatre. I loved the idea of the cookery theatre and now having attended an event I can honestly say it was an amazing experience and one I am going to repeat.
From the moment of welcome to the end of the event, customers’ needs were catered for. Hot/cold drinks on arrival, an offer of a cold drink half way through and checking to see if we didn’t feel too cold with the air conditioning made sure we were comfortable.
The seating in the Cook at Purewell theatre has plenty of room (take a virtual look inside) and for the two hours we were sat down I felt comfortable. You can see close ups on the screens to the left and right with one focusing on the hob and the other on the workstation but even sitting at the back where we were, the viewing is good.
With the ingredients in front of the chefs they had to make a choice of what they could prepare AND cook within the allotted 1.5 hours without any knowledge beforehand of what those ingredients were going to be.
It was obvious that Ian had used the Neff cookery theatre before as he was at ease using the kitchen equipment and knew where everything was … but for Simon it was his first time. They had a great relationship and I loved watching them working together as well as their own dishes coming together. Such an inspiration!
The audience plus cookery theatre manager, Laurie Griffiths, asked questions – some of which prompted anecdotes which gave the event a personal feel. Simon had been inspired to cook by his grandmother (and his mother who was in the audience). Ian catered for the Olympics four years ago when the sailing events took place at Weymouth – 100 people for lunch and afternoon tea for five days is no mean feat!
Not only did I enjoy seeing the dishes coming together but I learnt quite a lot of tips too! You’ll find those tips in Part One of my video below.
- How to de-bone fish (watch the video to see Ian de-boning)
- Scoring the skin of the fish stops too much curling, cooks quicker and doesn’t dry out
- How to cut raw beef (also on the video)
- Marinating – the longer you leave the stronger the taste and it tenderises the meat
- Cook a mackerel whole on a BBQ and put it straight on the grill – no foil
- Reducing – add seasoning at the end otherwise it becomes concentrated (too much) if you keep adding
- Use whatever knife you’re comfortable using but make sure it’s sharp (apart from de-boning when the knife needs to be flexible)
Time flies by when you’re totally engrossed and enjoying something doesn’t it … I couldn’t believe it when we were on the 10 second countdown!
Watch the video below for the last 10 minutes of the challenge including the countdown.
Simon and Ian created awesome dishes from all those separate ingredients.
Mini fish burgers
Plaice with saffron risotto
Strawberry and Kiwi Pavlova roll.
Trio of mackerel with mango salsa
Sea bass with crushed potatoes
Teriyaki style top of beef
Roasted fruits with nutmeg
It wasn’t long before the audience was invited down for the tasting. We’re not fish lovers although we did try the sea bass which was delicious. Favourites? the Teriyaki style beef, spiced roasted fruits and the pavlova roll 🙂
I was a bit late in showing my favourite chef (lemon for Simon, lime for Ian). I can reveal however that I chose Simon – I thought he had more of a challenge than Ian (remember it was his first time in the cookery theatre) and coped admirably well creating fabulous dishes (confession : it was Simon’s strawberry and kiwi Pavlova! which swung it for me). The winner? Lime.
At a reasonable cost of only £10 – £15 per person I would urge you to check out the other events coming up:
Sarah Ali’s Easy Curry, Thai Cookery, Cooking and Preparing Fish, The Simplicity of French Baking, Spun Sugar, Caramel and Gateaux, Gluten Free Meals, Middle Eastern Cooking, Bread with Ian Hewitt, Rosemary Moon cooking with Chilli and Sarah Ali’s Curry Workshop for Children .
If you have children, there’s also a child’s cookery course, Little Chefs. I think we need to be teaching our children skills that will last them a lifetime.
This would make a lovely gift for a loved one, family member, friend or colleague … as well something to experience for yourself.
[ctt template=”11″ link=”et5sv” via=”no” nofollow=”yes”]A @CookatPurewell cookery event would make a lovely gift for a loved one, family member, friend or colleague[/ctt]
Watching Simon and Ian creating (which, by the way, they made look very easy!), the banter/laughter, tips, questions/answers and of course not forgetting the tasting! made for a very entertaining evening. It was one of those evenings that will stay in my mind for a long time to come! I highly recommend Cook at Purewell events.
Have you attended a cookery demonstration?
Would you attend one now having read about my experiences?