150 or so guests had been invited to attend a cocktail party at Longwood House.
Hosts of the evening were the Fondation Napoleon as part of the 200th Anniversary commemorations of Napoleon’s arrival on St Helena which was on October 15th 1815.
Part of the evening was given to the distribution of honours and gifts to a variety of people on the island who have contributed in some way to preserving the Napoleonic history here.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see these awards as I was busy assisting with the food effort with JJ who with his partner Michel manages the Longwood estate and all things Napoleonic. Michel is the honorary French Consul General here on St Helena
The team had created a variety of items, from rare beef fillet on olive scones and smoked salmon with lemon mayonnaise to miniature fish cakes, king prawns in St Helena tomato sauce and local tuna with Dijon mustard and almonds. Also on hand were an assortment of delicious French dried sausages and meats which were simply served to show off their flavours.
Before we started serving we had to manage a kitchen which was packed with trays and dishes of delectable items, it was hard to know where to put everything.
As soon as the signal was given to start serving there was a flurry of activity as much of the food was assembled at the last minute in order for it to be at its best when served. Trays returned from the party empty and kept doing so for around 45 minutes. It was battle stations for that time, with the kitchen team working as if they had worked together for years…These are the moments that those of us in catering really love as the fruits of our labours are being appreciated and the hours of prep and organisation are reflected in an effortless service!
The team of staff at Longwood House are made up of local ladies and men, most of who have other jobs and have worked at the house for a number of years. They were a pleasure to work with, smiling and ensuring that their guests have an evening to remember. In fact as sometimes happens, the evening was so successful, it was hard to get people to think about going home!
Eventually it was time to wind down and one of my treats from the evening was a superb cold glass of Pouilly Fume, all the way from the Loire Valley in France. Such a rarity on St Helena as the vast majority of wine here is from South Africa.
Friday morning will see the French delegation depart on the RMS for Cape Town. Their visit has been packed with memorable moments and interactions.
The week they were here will be remembered not only by the visitors but by many of us who were lucky enough to be on St Helena in the anniversary year of Napoleon’s arrival.