Sheffield University’s fine dining restaurant is lining up a seven-course French-inspired menu tomorrow night to celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France.
And the man charged with delivering this pièce de resistance is head chef Joe Berry, in tandem with Inox Dine’s team of chefs and front-of-house staff.
It’s a daunting prospect, with dozens of guests expected for the Champagne extravaganza on level 5 of the Students’ Union building in West Bar. But Joe is taking it in his stride.
“We expect the unexpected,” he says. “There are never two days the same.
“One day we can be catering for a conference and running a busy lunch service; the next we’ll be menu planning for a big event or prepping for dinner service.”
“This job always throws surprises your way, so you’ll suddenly find out you’ve just cooked for the trumpet player from ABC or the science editor of the Times. I cooked for Sir Steve Redgrave at the height of his fame.”
There are challenges too: “I spent a while at Chequers Outside caterers and on one occasion our kitchen tent started to get picked up by wind on a particularly blustery day. We had to create additional guy ropes from clingfilm to keep the whole thing from blowing away!”
Friday’s event will start with an amuse bouch and fresh-baked French bread, followed by fillet of sea trout with langoustines; breast of duck with gooseberries; camomile and saffron granita; goat’s curd with honey and walnuts; and elderflower and strawberry ice cream.
Says Joe: “The Tour de France is an exciting event for Sheffield... What better way to mark it than to create a very special menu inspired by delicious French food and wine?”
His favourite style of food is contemporary British – the style of the Inox menu – but he has a special fondness for French cooking: “My signature dish would have to be tartiflette,” he says.
“My wife and I had it for our wedding breakfast and I keep it on the menu as it’s such a great dish.
“It reminds me of the time I spent in France; specifically the area where the Reblechon cheese is produced in the Aravis. All the cheese produced in the area would be brought down to the cooperative just across from where I lived and then distributed across the world from there – an amazing thought.”
Sheffield-born Joe is largely self taught. He travelled the world perfecting his art, working with great chefs in Switzerland and Canada, as well as France. He then spent three years at the acclaimed Losehill House Hotel near Hope before being appointed to head the new Inox team last year.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 Reblochon French cheese
800g of waxy potatoes.
(Charlottes are good but if not a Maris Piper will suffice)
200g smoked bacon lardons (mushrooms make a good alternative if you have to)
2 onions, finely chopped
2 bulbs of garlic, crushed and minced
200g crème fraiche (don’t scrimp on quality)
splash of white wine (optional)
salt and pepper
Par boil the potatoes in salted water. Drain and cool.
In a heavy-based ovenproof pan, fry onions, garlic and bacon until they start to brown. If you have some white wine handy, add a splash .
Meanwhile slice the potatoes about 1 cm thick or, if using Maris Piper, dice them.
Add potatoes to the pan and fold in the crème fraiche.
Slice the Reblochon cheese and lay on top of the potatoes to cover.
Add a little freshly grated nutmeg.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC until the potatoes are cooked and the cheese has browned and crisped.
Top with chopped chives and serve with cornichons a good salad, some cured ham and fresh bread.