How NOT to make Caramel!
Sunday 23rd October
Will catering on St Helena ever be the same I ask? Practical training sessions kicked off this week with Desserts as the first topic.
Attendees included local outside caterers, guest house and restaurant owners, take away businesses and some who may start a catering business soon. The practical training sessions only last three hours in order to fit in with business needs so it’s quite a challenge to pack in as much content as possible in that time.
The Desserts course was so well subscribed that three sessions had been planned. We covered a number of basics including, making caramel, ice cream, meringue, custard, jellies and a few traditional such as sticky toffee pudding and rice pudding. Students were split into teams and given three recipes to complete before the end of the session. My challenge was to be “there” for each team at the critical points of each recipe. This wasn’t always easy, especially when three different pans of caramel were just starting to give off noxious fumes!
Success with a caramelized fruit tart!
The keenness to learn and excitement to try new ideas has been overwhelming from all who have attended and I am keenly anticipating this week’s courses on patisserie, vegetarian food and breads.
An invitation to assist with a fine dining dinner at Plantation House (The Governor’s Mansion) was accepted a few weeks ago. The occasion was a fundraiser on behalf of the local league of friends and the acting Governor had generously offered the dining room at Plantation House for the venue.
Gay Lee and Me ready for action
As black tie events are fairly rare on St Helena, the event was quickly sold out with 24 diners expecting a gourmet experience par excellence!
Little did I realise that the girls organising the service aspect of the dinner wanted me to be the head waitress! Gay, Lee and Phyllis made up the team, none of whom had done this type of thing before although once in the swing of it you would never have guessed! The evening was great fun starting with cocktails in the library and ending with port, coffee and an auction. The chefs were two expatriates who had volunteered to produce the feast of lobster bisque, local pork loin with red wine sauce and spotted dick! Around £500 has been raised which is great to hear.
As I am writing this the morning after the event I am reminded why catering is such a rewarding occupation. Although I woke up with aching legs and a mild headache from the end of evening wine, my foremost memories of the evening are of happy diners, hysterical laughter and great camaraderie with people who I have only know for a few weeks.