Friday, July 15, 2005

Peach Bellinis and Cultural Consumption: Cooks and Their Books

The downstairs room at Zetter Restaurant, an elegant and very pink affair, played host to an event which must be every gourmand’s dream: eating a three-course meal cooked by Megan Jones from the Zetter, whilst being entertained by three of London’s heavyweight cooks in discussion.

Now, as someone who thinks that all cooks are either like Jamie Oliver (salt-of-the-earth good fellas) or Gordon Ramsey (cut-you-up-and-eat-you mafia dons), I was hoping for salacious kitchen gossip involving tirades and tantrums… and for at least one of the waiters serving to rebel, but everyone was perfectly behaved.

Simon Wright, columnist and author, compèred the event, and tried to debunk the TV myths, but Rowley Leigh (Kensington Palace), Sam Clarke (Moro) and Fergus Henderson (St John’s), proved far too entertaining for that (above, left).

Samuel Clark made my day by admitting “you can get some pretty sadistic female chefs”. The audience laughed heartily… and missed the irony when later Rowley Leigh admitted that the aggression in kitchens has kept out women and Fergus Henderson said that he had more “girls than boys in his kitchen”. I know whose kitchen I’d like to be a fly-on-the-wall in!

Its odd what catches your eye during these events, but I found out that, in London, only the Zetter and Sadler’s Wells have their own well! The Zetter’s is 1500 feet below the surface and, if you are lucky enough to stay in one of their hotel rooms, you get a complimentary bottle (left). I turned down all the other delights to try the water… and yes, London Tap Water, eat your heart out.

The 45 guests (including Lucy, Jo and Tom, right) who had paid £45 a head (with a waiting list of 15 people), had a fabulous time and were last seen singing the praises of Zetter as they wandered away from Clerkenwell, full of veal chop, sorbet and the Zetter’s very delicious Peach Bellini. Bon Apetit!

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