I’m sitting on the usual train that I catch to go into the City every week day morning, but this is different, today I’m off to a professional kitchen for a day. HIX! I have been looking forward to this day since I won the Godiva Chocolate Challenge in March. Having designed a dessert that I thought matched the Hix ethos and celebrated all that is chocolate, I was on the penultimate part of my winning journey. (video of the day).
I arrive at Hix Selfridges for the shop opening, there’s something lovely about walking around Selfridges when there are no customers in the store yet. I am greeted by Head Chef Martin Sweeney and given my whites to change into. It turns out Martin is also Scottish which makes me feels a little more at ease.
It suddenly dawns on me…I haven’t made this dessert since the start of March. I should know it inside out, the week of the Godiva competition I went to sleep going through all the stages of the dessert in my head making each stage virtually, but that was nearly 2 months ago. I start to panic “I can’t do this, I’m not prepared, I’m not a chef!” I think. Martin has a brilliant sense of timing and comes over with a coffee for me. “so, talk me through this then” he says. As I talk I remember. Chef smiles at me “well get to it then” he says and leaves me in the Pastry section with Pastry Chef Melissa.
There’s something about being in a Pastry section of a professional kitchen that makes you feel more organised. At least I like to think that’s what it was, it’s more likely to be because the chefs had already weighed out all my ingredients into nice neatly labelled containers. I start to make the Chocolate and Honey Cremeux and I feel like a chef, for today anyway I belong. With the dessert well under way I start to relax….
My next panic is doing the quinelles. I learned to do this by watching youtube videos in slow motion. I kept a tub of whipped cream in my fridge to practice – every time I made a cup of coffee I’d pour hot water into a cup and heat my spoon and make a few quinelles then put them back in the cream, smooth it over till the next time.
Finally I was ready to start to plate up; my pears were nicely poached and caramelised in honey, my almonds toasted in honey and finished off with a touch of crushed fleur de sel, chocolate and honey cremeux had set up nicely, chocolate crumb had cooled and looked like chocolate crumble topping and the sorbet was perfect.
After managing to plate up with no errors, it was all down to Chef trying and providing feedback. Chef Martin was very kind to me and had only positive comments…..then all the Hix Chefs came to try and loved it.
Once the dessert was finished I had lunch with the Godiva PR company and John the photographer. Fresh salmon that is cured and smoked on the premises with homemade soda bread, I learned that it’s taken Mark Hix 4 years to perfect the curing and smoking process to what’s used today and it’s been 4 years well spent as the salmon was amazing. There is something special about new season asparagus which I had with hollandaise sauce. I learned so much during that day, and it is certainly one I will not forget.
Here’s a link to see all the pictures of my day, courtesy of John Gough