We were well and truly cosseted last week at the Devonshire Food Festival, a week long extravaganza showcasing the work of the best chefs in the region and beyond.
Devonshire here means the Devonshire Arms Hotel at Bolton Abbey where the new, young executive chef of the Burlington Restaurant, Adam Smith – just four months in post – was well and truly in at the deep end, cooking and overseeing lunch and dinner by a series of visiting guest chefs over the seven days of the Festival.
If he was on his knees he wasn’t showing it on our visit which was a light-hearted competition between Smith and his potential arch rival six miles down the road at Ilkley’s Box Tree, Lawrence Yates another young ‘un who by coincidence was also just four months into the job.
Over champagne in the lounge, we were asked to choose from two menus, A & B without knowing who was cooking what.
It was a tough call so Mandy and I did the obvious and chose a menu each. Do we need to tell you they were both brilliant? Refined, labour intensive but beautifully matched so that each flavour was allowed to sing.
My highlight was a starter of langoustine and suckling pig served with a rich shellfish bisque; Mandy’s was her peach soufflé, sweet and light as air with a little jug of peach sauce that you add more or less to take down the sweetness so it’s just to your liking. Clever.
Both menus were text-book in execution. Menu A was the prettier, more delicate and had more elements on the plate. Menu B was more substantial, seemingly simpler but with flavours and textures that married perfectly.
And the winner? Menu B, by Lawrence Yates from the Box Tree but only by a whisker (and not we trust by any vote rigging from the Box Tree table!) And it turns out the chefs are not rivals after all, but two enthusiastic young chefs loving their new jobs and crazy for all the fine Yorkshire produce on their doorstep.
If you missed the Festival this year, put a note in your diary for mid November 2014 or splash out and catch these keen young chefs on the rise.