Backseat Batalis rejoice! A new chef masterclass series - otherwise known as culinary bootcamp for beginners - has been launched at Gordon Ramsay’s plush Belgravia eatierie Petrus. Diners are taken straight into the heat of the kitchen in full lunch service swing in a class designed to take the chef’s table experience up a notch.
Hot Dinners was invited along to learn a few tricks of the trade.
What is this strange new place?
Somewhere between the bathrooms and the pristine dining room lies the stairway to a busy, rarely-seen underworld. We’re led straight to the kitchen and left to gawp at live langoustines crawling dazedly out of icy cartons, freshly delivered greens glistening invitingly and bone marrow left simmering overnight for fresh stock in the morning.
Where’s my lunch? Waiter!
This is no genteel day course for ladies who lunch. The Petrus chef’s masterclass is designed to get you, sharp knife in hand and sweat on brow, slicing and dicing under the watchful eye of the kitchen staff. At the same time, they're also dishing up plates for the well-heeled folks dining above your head.
Mind your fingers!
An instant plus of being guided around a busy working kitchen is the access to professional tools – including an enviable rainbow of razor-sharp knives for every occasion. Our favourite was the knife that cut effortlessly through chicken wing bone with a satisfying crunch. Gratifyingly macho.
Adult supervision definitely required.
Ambassador for his busy kitchen, and guide for the enthusiastic amateur, head chef Sean Burbidge talked us through everything from finding those elusive ingredients to tasty twists with everyday ingredients like chicken. Along the way, we also got the chance to grill his sous chefs and dessert experts on how to fake Michelin expertise.
So, what’s the secret to a tasty chicken breast?
Butter. Acres, yards and pans full of it. We basted until we were breathless.
What else was being dished up?
We cut our teeth at the dessert station, where we pre-prepared panna cotta with coconut shavings and a wickedly alcoholic fruit base – a nice easy one to give the gelatine time to set. From there, it was a baptism of fire at the scorching grill as we tackled scallops (cut fresh from the shell) with truffle mayonnaise and chicken breast.
This all sounds a bit Generation Game..
You might be right. Nothing deflates you faster than putting a slaved-over dish next to the professional version, although the one-on-one tuition meant our offerings stayed decent. No Brucie bonuses for us though.
Any safety tips?
You think you know how hot a professional grill is. You don’t. We staggered away after just a few minutes with blurred eyesight. Be grateful for the seasoned pros who send up your rare steak to the cool and calm dining room.
The best part?
Crawling back gratefully to the chef’s table after each course’s preparation, food in hand, to be met by the helpful sommelier with wines carefully chosen for each hard-earned course.
What’s the gossip behind the grill?
Unexpectedly, Gordon Ramsay himself dropped by to compliment us on our dishes, flirt and and chat with the group. Also on hand was Hell’s Kitchen alumni Maitre d' Jean Philippe on fine, unfiltered form, discussing candidly the pitfalls of reality fame (‘you could see reactions coming a mile off’).
When’s the next dinner party?
Even culinary prodigies need a break. We’re definitely staying on our side of the restaurant for now.
the Petrus Chef Master Classes lets guests of all abilities (trust us, we’ve tested the limits of this claim) cook a three-course bespoke menu with hands-on guidance from Head Chef Sean Burbidge, and includes a full lunch at the Chef’s Table with wines chosen by the sommelier. Check out the Petrus website for more information.