Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Back once again

Guess who's back,
back again?


I'm back.

 JP (AKA somersetchef), not that I have really been anywhere.

 But back I am.

The last couple of years have proven to be a really tough portion of my life, what with the workload gaining massively, the introduction of CandyShack Mill, family life and a general feeling of too low in energy at the end of the long days to interact via Blog, and no time to Tweet during the working day. I had, to be honest, taken on too much. 

Health may have also been a factor, with poor diet, smoking and drinking (often) taking its toll on the system, adding to the lathargic state I had become encased in. 

The work had taken its pound of flesh too. After becoming Freelance, I accepted every job available, not wishing to let anyone down. I found myself juggling dates with Family life and the new Business, unable to please either often. Then I became set in one of the venues I was working at. Issue after issue was arising, and I felt by giving more of my time was the fair thing to do until stability reigned. Two and a half years later, on a low wage for a Freelancer and working from morning to late night non stop, Stability may just be around the corner and my services will at last be a non requirement.

It has been one of the most hard to work in, most frustrating places I have had to endure. And although I have enjoyed the challenges that in itself throws up, I find that one vital element is sorely lacking in what I am doing.

I am support, not the Head Chef. I support the constant requirements of the Owners, the newly appointed staff members (of which there has been numerous) and most importantly, the Head Chef (of which there has been a few). My title had been likened to that of a Supplier and Consultant. This in itself makes me yearn to do what I am good at, to do what comes naturally, and to do what made me become somersetchef - Prolific Tweeter and Blogger.

Head up my own Kitchen.

Recently, I was approched by someone I had never met nor spoken to, who introduced me to an opportunity and Head Chef Position that was being advertised by a Landlord of a Dorset Public House He frequented.

After a series of e-mails, we had arranged a meeting with the Landlord, a casual chat/interview to find out about each other, the business, and the position.

To say the meeting ended on a positive would do it an injustice.

After spending so much time ensconced in the trenches of five-six, fifteen hour days, I suddenly found myself in a new setting more akin to where I love to be, and realise that rather than aiding others in a role created to suit the unique business management, I would be far happier facing the challenges of a kitchen at its helm. I had become so knitted into the fabric of where I was that I neglected to realise I had allowed myself to become a mentor, confidant and Kitchen Morale Mascot, serving up other people's food and creating mine there under someone elses name (some of the dishes I created were certainly some of the best I ever did). And I'm not being ungrateful, nor big headed. I got the opportunity to work with and for some amazing people who have certainly taught me new skills and techniques, but I miss everything that comes with being in sole charge of a kitchen, it's brigade and business elements.

I recieved an official offer of the Head Chef position, and have since handed in my notice at the other Business. There is a long notice period that I have to see through, but I am already ingraining myself with my future 'Home' weekly, preparing plans, menus, special dishes and looking at strengthening the team within the Kitchen. 

And suddenly I am back. Tweeting much more often, getting excited about my style of food, and Blogging. Look! I am actually Blogging again!

There are so many careers out there that can suck you in and make you lose yourself snd your way, no doubt. But I can only speak with confidance about this humble trade we call Hospitality and Catering.

To anyone, who is deep within the trenches without sunlight and a change of scene. STOP.
Just for a small while. Go somewhere. Look around you. And make sure you can feel that Sunlight warm your face.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Blackberry Jam, Unleashed...

In a County that thrives on foraging and Game meats, it is not that hard to raid Mother Natures Larder when she is not looking. The Important thing however is to do the plunder justice.

I have been creating a recipe for a dish using Venison and Guinea Fowl, and wanted a real powerful fruity sauce that smacked of hedgerows and open fields.
Blackberries are one of the most abundant berries in the United Kingdom and makes for an excellent Crumble, Pie and even Jam.

I have ended up creating this rather sexy little number that is truly stunning with plenty of natural characteristics and balances of flavours. This will be the base of my sauce for the Game and Poultry dish....Providing I don't steal it for my toast!

Makes enough for 1x1kg Kilner Jar

1KG fresh Blackberries, the plumper the better, washed and drained.
450g Preserve Sugar
50g Soft Brown Sugar
1 Sprig Rosemary, leaves squeezed
4 Juniper Berries
1 Star Anise
Pinch of Pink Peppercorns
6 Cloves
Grated zest of 1 Grapefruit
Juice of ½ Grapefruit
6 fl ozs pure apple juice (or one fresh eater, grated)
100ml Ruby Port
1x1Kilo Kilner Jar or several smaller Jam Jars, sterilised and fully dried (best way to dry in oven on low heat).
Disc of grease proof.
The Rosemary & Star Anise adds a whole new level of flavour to a classic Jam


  • Place the Blackberries and the sugar into either a Jam Pan or a solid base Saucepan. Give a good stir through, taking care not to damage the Blackberries too much.
  • Leave for roughly 30-40 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve in the natural juice.
  • Place a small plate in your Fridge to chill down.
  • Place the Juniper, Star Anise, Peppercorns and Cloves Into a small Muslin square, Gather up all the corners, and tie up with a long length of Butchers string and tether the spice bag to the pan handle, ensuring the spices can submerge in the mix.
  • Add the Rosemary, Grapefruit Zest & Apple/Apple juice and place the pan on a low heat, stir and allow to come up to a bubbling heat.
  • Add the squeezed Grapefruit juice and the Port, give a stir and allow to boil for 5-8 minutes.
  • Using the chilled plate, spoon a small amount of the jam onto it to check the consistency of the Jam when set. Allow to cool for a few minutes. If the Jam sample sets to your liking, remove from Pan from heat and allow to cool down slightly. If, however the Jam is not thick enough, place back onto the stove and cook out for another 5-10 minutes. Repeat the above until your perfect Jam is ready.
  • Remove the Rosemary & Spice pouch, and then pour the Jam into a sealable glass jar.
  • Place the Paper disc onto the Jam, Secure the Lid and store until required.
Any good quality Apple Juice will work, but will change the background sweetness
and balance, so taste, taste, taste!