Our senior team have been inspired by a food trip to Paris
A couple of weekends ago our senior team set off for an inspiration weekend to Paris, sampling some of the best food the city has to offer
The aim of the trip was to get our team fired up creatively and inspired by the incredible work their French peers are doing. As our Catering Manager Andre said "it was really great to spend a whole three days talking about, tasting, smelling and seeing my two favourite things in the world: food and wine". Joining Andre were managing director Dean Kennett, food director Matt Byne, development chef Susi Hester, operations manager Alison Lloyd and sous chef Billy Wildman.
Now, this wasn’t a trip about trawling through Paris’ many Michelin star restaurants. It was about rolling up their sleeves and getting hands on with raw ingredients - witnessing firsthand the enormous logistical operation of feeding one of the greatest culinary capitals in the world.
Our managing director Dean says "it was inspiring to see colleagues get stuck in - immerse themselves in what truly is their passion". And inspired they were - our customers shouldn't be surprised to see some fantastic French dishes on the menu over the next few weeks.
Here are some of the highlights of the trip.
This was the centrepiece of our visit, which the team stopped by at at a toe-curling (but normal for the market’s staff) 3am. If you’ve never heard of Rungis market, you must look it up. Our food director Matt Byne explains “The market supplies basically the whole of Paris with its food. It employs 12,000 people, which increases to a massive 115,000 at Christmas, and has its own train station transporting in nothing but food every day.”
As the biggest wholesale food market in the world Rungis market was the perfect inspiration for us. No matter how big the logistical challenge seems at first, everything feels possible after visiting a place like Rungis.
On a guided tour our team stopped by the fish market, digging through the incredible fresh produce on display and seeking out some of the best boutique suppliers at the deli wholesalers.
We like to get back to basics with our cooking - focussing on drawing out the best of every ingredient we use. Seeing fresh produce laid out and sold on on such a scale was a great way to appreciate the wonderful range of food we cook with and to come home with renewed respect for each raw ingredient.
This was a find from our development chef Susi Hester. Susi really knows charcuterie and has introduced many a colleague to London’s fabulous Bar Tozino, so if Susi says a charcuterie bar is worth a look we know it’s unmissable.
Septime is a simple, stylish place that lets the ingredients speak for themselves - offering up small plates of outstanding cured meats and cheeses alongside natural wines. Matt said that the smoked magret duck was the best he’d ever tasted, and after quizzing the staff about its provenance brought back a few batches for our team back in London to try.
Here's some of that beautiful beef that the gang brought back for us - and we can confirm it was amazing.
Alain Ducasse chocolates
Here, we witnessed some serious craftsmanship. As a 3 Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse gives close attention to every single element of the food he prepares, and that was on full display here. With experience as a chocolatier Ducasse makes all of the chocolate he serves in his restaurants in-house - a from-scratch principle we can definitely get behind!
The team spent as much time as they could tasting and sampling the range of chocolates on offer before grabbing some boxes to bring back to the team in London.
This was another chance to look at the fine details of a single ingredient - to go back to its roots, the region where it’s produced, get to know its flavours and understand how best to pair it up with other foods. It was also a chance to drink some really, really good wine.
Thierry, the wine expert, took our gang through six beautiful wines from around France and paired them with some beautiful cheeses.
Well, that really seems to cover everything! This trip has been such a success we're very excited to schedule more in the future, letting even more members of our team experience different food cultures and get inspired. We're also hoping to host a few inspiration events a little closer to home. But more on that later...