Seasoned Head Chef Chris Hawkins talks Christmas, veggies and parsnips
Speaking about the busy Christmas period ahead, Chris gave us an insight into some of the challenges he faces on a daily basis and what it takes to be a head chef at Seasoned.
Here it is in his own words…
This Christmas is going to be manic, one of the busiest years by far. We are privileged to be able to work at so many of London’s prestigious event venues and we have a portfolio of many repeat corporate and private clients which grows annually. I create a new festive menu each year so that everything is fresh for our repeat Christmas party clients.
When creating a menu for the festive season there are a number of things I have to take into consideration including catering for many different clients whose party numbers range from 50-1,250, dealing with the intricacies of our partner venues as many do not have kitchens and working around the fact that some places only allow access to the venue one hour before the guests arrive.
While the traditional turkey at Christmas is a home comfort it’s not usually something that would be on an events menu. Guests want to be able to experience a menu that they would not necessarily have access to themselves.
I like to create dishes for vegetarians that they wouldn’t necessarily have tried before. We see time and time again the same old risottos and pasta dishes on menus but that’s not what Seasoned is all about.
In fact our vegetarian starter dishes have proved so popular that more and more clients are choosing them as a final dish for all guests and not just those with specific requirements.
My goal is to ensure our guests who do have specific requirements are as wowed as guests who may be sitting down with a meat dish that is out of this world.
Our bubble and squeak cakes with parsnip trilogy and cherry wonton are a delicious main course taken from our festive menu.
Here at Seasoned we love to recreate British classics and we use only the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Parsnips are a tasty vegetable and in my opinion are not used as much as they should be.
We use a local supplier called Secrets Farm for our parsnips and our menus always offer a taste of the season so you will find many wintery vegetables and meats that showcase this in our dishes.
Follow our recipe below for the best parsnip dish of all time to accompany your chosen bubble and squeak cakes.
What you will need to feed two people:
six large parsnips, 2 per section
4 large shallots
knob of butter
thyme, salt, pepper & sage to season
your chosen honey
200g fresh cherries
50cl of Crème de cassis
pre-rolled filo pastry
one large egg
Place the parsnips in a pan of boiling water. Boil until soft.
Sweat your shallots in a little butter, add double cream and thyme and reduce until thick.
Drain your parsnips and add cream reduction to them.
Blitz until smooth.
Coat your parsnip batons in honey with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Roast until golden.
Use a potato peeler to create parsnip ribbons.
Spritz with oil and roast until they snap.
Simmer your cherries in a small pan in Crème de cassis until the liquid starts to thicken.
Brown off two shallots in butter.
Chop your cherries and two browned shallots and add sage. Mix well.
Cut your pre-rolled filo pastry into squares, approx. 5cm x 5cm.
Place a teaspoon of your cherry mixture into the centre of each square. Twist the bag into shape.
Brush with an egg wash to hold their shape.