There are chefs with big egos and we all know who they are, and there are chefs who just get on with the business of cooking. Two of the most quiet, modest and underrated cooks we know are Sally Duncan and Helen Lewis, who last night launched Lewis & Duncan Outside Catering with a slap up dinner for twelve.
We first came across the pair cooking at De’Clare’s (now Cabra Verde) on Peter Lane in York. We followed them when the moved and began serving tasty, good value pub food at the Fulford Arms. Now they have fledged and are going it alone offering to cook for weddings, funerals, events, parties or private dinners like ours last night.
We began over pre-drinks with Vietnamese rice rolls: exquisitely delicate, see-through rice paper rolls crammed with all manner of sliced veg and herbs – coriander maybe and something minty I couldn’t fathom – steamed and served with home-made plum dipping sauce. They were fresh, crunchy and reassuringly healthy.
The caramelised garlic and goats’ cheese tarts were also brilliant. Thank you Sally for standing over a hot stove, for too long, turning individual garlic cloves in olive oil, sugar and balsamic vinegar until they became sweet and soothing but didn’t burn. We are glad she did, (well except for the lady who was allergic to garlic) it was an exquisite sweet foil to the sharpness of the goats cheese.
Seated at the table, with a room full of strangers was a bit like Come Dine With Me, except with someone who could cook. Fish tagine with potatoes, peppers and olives; maple brined pork belly with pear and juniper relish; beetroot bourguignon with Parmesan polenta; sweet potato and sage gratin and fennel dill and sour cherry salad. Pick the garlic out of that lot. Sadly for Ms garlic-allergy and much to the dismay of our host, only the bread and polenta were garlic-free. (If only she’d told them in advance it would have saved the red faces). We all made sympathetic noises then tucked in anyway. My highlight was the beetroot borguignon: beetroot, onions, mushrooms, puy lentils and red wine all packing in the flavour with the cheesey polenta on the side.
To finish we were served Spanish apple pie which I think was an open tart baked with a vanilla custard and the most light, moist and chocolatey chocolate torte I can ever remember tasting.
That was it. No shouty arguments, embarrassing games or dancing girls, no one got drunk in the taxi home, our scores though were a blinding 10/10.
So if you fancy booking Lewis & Duncan for your next ‘do’ be assured, you won’t be offered a deadly ‘finger buffet’ or rubber chicken, nor is it fine dining with dots and dabs and sous vide. Instead you will get a bespoke menu suited to your event starting around £10 a head. They can do all styles but are especially interested in offering really interesting vegetarian and vegan dishes. Sally has lived and worked in Hong Kong and Asian dishes are a speciality while Helen is a pastry chef.
If you would like to discuss your event you can contact them on 07506 796291 e: [email protected]