CHEF’S DISH: Sweet dreams from a master of the art

Chocolate brioche, fudge and caramelized banana - by Mick Burke
Chocolate brioche, fudge and caramelized banana - by Mick Burke

Our area boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants – and they have more than just good food in common…

For Rupert Rowley, head chef at Fischer’s, and Nathan Smith, his counterpart at the Old Vicarage, both cut their culinary milk teeth at Sheffield College.

The man responsible for training both, and many more like them, is Master Chef Mick Burke, deputy head of hospitality, who has been inspiring the nation’s chefs from his kitchen classroom for nearly 35 years.

He not only teaches budding chefs the skills that form the tools of their trade, but also oversees one of the city’s most impressive eateries.

Sparks, the college training restaurant in Granville Road, is also open to the public and has a strong reputation for high quality and excellent value.

Running service at such a venue is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Not only must staff ensure that food is prepared and delivered in a professional manner, but they must do it knowing that every move can be witnessed by diners via a live video link.

Mick is in good company – two of his colleagues are also Master Chefs of Great Britain. But it is Mick’s experience which has given him the solid platform from which to pass on his skills and knowledge.

He trained on the job, with Ind Coope Hotels, Trust House Forte and Claridge’s in London, as well as taking courses in France and Switzerland.

A talented pastry chef, he has written a book, Professional Patisserie, and won several awards, both national and international.

His students include numerous who went on to achieve honours within the profession – including two who won the top European competition for trainee chefs in consecutive years.

Mick has also represented Great Britain, giving a televised cookery demonstration in Nantes, France.

But his number one experience, he says, was meeting world champion pastry chef and chocolatier Oriol Balaguer: “It was amazing to work with him at Sheffield College, given his reputation.”

Chocolate remains one of Mick’s favourite ingredients and he uses it to effect in his signature dish, chocolate brioche pudding.

“It’s a fantastic combination of chocolate and caramelised banana – gooey, satisfying and fun to eat,” he says.

Sparks restaurant is open Monday to Friday lunchtimes (three courses £9.95) and Tuesday to Thursday evenings. It regularly runs themed food events – coming up is a French night (Jan 21 – £18.50), a Bavarian winter warmer (Jan 27 – £14.50) and a buffet and race night (Feb 10 – £18.50). For details or tickets call (0114) 260 2060.

Chocolate brioche pudding with fudge, caramelised banana and vanilla ice cream

DARKK CHOCOLATE FUDGE:

400g sugar

137g liquid glucose

125g cream

200g plain chocolate (60-70%) 30g butter

Put sugar, glucose and cream in a pan and boil to 120ºC. Put chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and melt by placing on a pan of simmering water.

Once melted put bowl on worktop and add boiled sugar and cream solution. Mix until smooth and glossy. Pour into a swiss roll tin lined with silicone paper and cool until solid.

CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE:

375g whipping cream

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

60g sugar

135g plain chocolate (60-70%) 25g unsalted butter

200g brioche, diced to 1cm

100g fudge, diced to 1cm

Whisk eggs, yolks and sugar together. Boil cream and pour on to chocolate and butter – emulsify using a stem blender. Whisk into egg mixture.

Line a small stainless steel ring with silicone paper. Cut brioche into squares and place in a bowl, pour over the chocolate custard until brioche is fully moistened but still retains its shape. Fill the prepared metal ring with alternate layers of brioche mixture and diced fudge. Sprinkle top of mould with diced fudge. Bake at 180ºC for 15 mins. Stand 10 -15 mins prior to demoulding.

CARAMELISED BANANA:

Slice two bananas on a slant and place on a metal tray; sprinkle with caster sugar and use a blow torch to caramelise the surface. (This must be done just before plating, so caramel stays crisp.)

EGG CUSTARD SAUCE:

250ml milk

3 egg yolks

25g caster sugar

3-4 drops of vanilla essence

Mix egg yolk and sugar in a bowl. Boil milk, add vanilla, whisk into yolks and return to a thick-bottomed pan. Place on a low heat and stir until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow custard to boil or the mixture will scramble! A digital probe can be used to ensure that custard reaches 85ºC. Pour into a clean bowl to prevent further cooking and serve immediately.

CONSTRUCTION:

Demould pudding into centre of a warm plate.

Arrange caramelised bananas around base of the pudding.

Serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream and a sauceboat of fresh egg custard.