Behind the scenes in Sheffield’s most secret restaurant

It must be the least known restaurant in Sheffield but it hides a  secret famous names would love to have.

By Ellen Beardmore
Monday, 29 April, 2019, 16:14
Plating up one of the desserts as part of the pop up restaurant

With facilities worth £3.5 million, gadgets most chefs can only dream of utilising and views across the city centre, the sky-high Hallam View may also be the best equipped.

“When I was in the industry I would have loved half of this”, said senior lecturer and former chef Norman Dinsdale, as he oversaw a busy lunchtime service where hospitality students learn how to run a restaurant.

Busy scenes on the pass at the Hallam View restaurant

“I used to be the executive chef at Lords cricket ground, we served thousands of people every day. The use of these machines would have cut costs and we could have done so much more.

“It’s probably the best equipped kitchen in Sheffield as well (as being the most little known) .”

Those machines range from gleaming ‘self cooking centres’ utilising steam, dry heat and both to cook almost any dish, to live canape stations pressed into use for various university functions. 

Cheeses lie maturing in one fridge while another piece of kit can separate solids and liquids, for use in intensely flavoured soups and sorbets. 

The lecturer team in the hospitality department, James Ellerby, Ruth and Norman Dinsdale

Away from the busy pass, where one student is directing the kitchen to keep up with a flurry of orders from the “Feast of Fish” menu, other toys include a new food printer.

“You can put in chocolate, marzipan or pasta and it will print what you want”, adds Norman, clearly eager to test it out.

“We’ve brought in some of the local chefs to have a go and they have been in awe.”

The Feast of Fish was one of five restaurant sessions run by the students through March and April, as part of the hospitality management and business management degrees. 

The Whitby haddock served at the feast of fish

Hallam culinary chiefs invited the Sheffield Telegraph to have a behind the scenes tour of the culinary kitchen laboratories as part of the pop up restaurant. 

There lucky university staff and visitors could enjoy three courses for the princely sum of £8, with dishes ranging from deep fried Black Sheep bitter battered Whitby haddock  to Italian veal dish osso bucco.  

The benefit to level five students is in learning how to manage a busy restaurant scenario; rather than just cooking the food, they produce an operations manual including costings and hold staff briefings. In a rapidly changing industry, the aim is to give them a head start.

Other recent events include a separate pop up restaurant – open to the public – with renowned chef Max Fischer, which championed local produce and gave students invaluable experience. 

Norman said: “We’re not training them in how to be chefs or waiters, we’re training them in how to manage that team. But we have to give them all the skills to do that.”

“For most of them this is their first opportunity for them to manage a restaurant”, added fellow lecturer James Ellerby, who also worked in the restaurant busioness. 

“We’re stepping further and further back and letting them be in charge. If anything does go wrong though, there is that safety net of it being a training restaurant.”

Despite a brief backlog of orders on the pass, there were no major clangers, with impeccable service and well presented food, from the warming fish soup packed with crab to the ginger flavoured crème brûlée.

Away from the restaurant, students were busy on the other side of the business, research.

Teams are working with major supermarkets on projects with real life applications, including one to reduce the amount of sugar in chocolate digestives by 20 per cent. Their recipes were being put to the test in a sensory suite, where tasters sit behind a hatch to wait for the unmarked options and mark their thoughts on an iPad. 

The students had created 200 digestives for the cause.

How many had they eaten, though? “Far too many”, was the answer.