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Archive for the ‘Alan Murchison’ Category

Alan and Gerard L'ortolan

It’s a rare occasion indeed when Alan Murchison and Gerard Basset combine talents to deliver an evening of spectacular food, astonishing wines and conviviality.  Both masters in their respective fields, Alan and Gerard will be sharing their knowledge of food and wine and regaling guests with anecdotes from their years in the trade.

About our hosts…

Michelin Starred Chef, Alan Murchison, has held a Michelin star at L’Ortolan for 11 years and is the inspiration behind the 10in8 Fine Dining group of restaurants. Prior to taking up his position as Executive Chef at L’Ortolan, Alan trained with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons.  Alan has appeared several times on BBC2’s Great British Menu as both competitor and mentor and his recipes are regularly featured in the national media.

Gerard Basset is arguably one of the greatest wine professionals of his generation, the reigning World Champion Sommelier and the only person ever to simultaneously hold the Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and MBA Wine honours. Gerard co-founded the hugely successful Hotel du Vin Group and latterly the award winning, New Forest boutique wine hotel, Hotel TerraVina.

Alan and Gerard are business partners and have been friends for more than 10 years.

L'ortolan Prestige Menu

About the evening …

Alan and Gerard invite you to join them for a very exclusive evening at L’Ortolan.  Aperitifs and canapés precede a sensational seven course menu devised by Alan with wines selected by Gerard.  Of course, during dinner Alan will comment on the food and Gerard the wines, but more than that, they will talk about their careers with some behind the scenes stories.  There will be plenty of opportunity to ask them both questions during this relaxed and informal evening.

For further details please visit our website or call 01189 888 500 

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Last weekend Alan Murchison and his apprentice Sam undertook the challenge to cycle from London to Paris in 3 days. The cycle was in aid of Hospitality Action,  a benevolent organisation, offering vital assistance to all who work, or have worked within hospitality in the UK and who find themselves in crisis. The charity hoped to raise £20,000 for those in need. Alan tells us about his challenge…

To say I like a challenge is an understatement, when the opportunity came up to cycle from London to Paris came up I jumped at the opportunity.

300 miles in 3 days for one reason, raising funds for Hospitality Action.

21 of us signed up to do the cycle ride, mostly people from the industry, this included fellow Michelin starred chefs Matthew Tomkinson & Steven Drake, Hayden Groves who was 3rd in the National Chef of the Year in 2011 and I also managed to get my young apprentice chef from L’Ortolan, Sam Bowden to join us.

After 6 months of intensive training we were ready to ‘smash it when it’s counts’

Day one was a relatively easy day setting off from Greenwich and cycling all the way to Dover, rolling hills and pretty countryside were the order of the day. The last 6 miles were amazing, battering down a dual carriageway flat out, the last 2 miles were downhill and I am pleased to say I managed to average 53 MPH for a whole mile!! That’s shifting for sure.

Day two we had our biggest day mileage wise to do, awesome roads in northern France meant we got carried away with ourselves and ended up getting a bit lost and taking in a few too many hills and miles, over 20 miles too many even before lunch, last part of the day the heavens opened and we did 30 miles in biblical rain, savage weather and a 120 mile plus day in the saddle, tired all round.

Alan Murchison Paris Cycle Challenge

Alan and Sam

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Big Green Egg Lortolan Demo
On Tuesday seven enthusiastic guests joined us for the Summer BBQ demonstration with Alan Murchison and Head Chef Nick Chappell. With the welcome arrival of the British summer sun, the terrace made a very pleasant setting for the event, creating a true BBQ atmosphere.

After the initial welcome, Alan introduced the guests to the Big Green Egg, a barbecue that has quickly shot to fame on our screens in recent cooking shows and has become very desirable in the finest restaurants in the UK and Europe.

The Big Green Egg is a charcoal based ceramic cooker that offers a wide range of precise cooking modes never seen before on a barbecue. It can grill, roast, smoke or bake pizzas in temperatures ranging from 80 – 400C.

Alan Murchison and his team began using a combination of large and small Eggs in the kitchen about a year ago, and were quickly won over by its diversity of cooking techniques; smoking, baking, slow cooking for a range of different dishes.

“This is the Formula 1 of barbecues. Every now and again a product comes along which redefines everything. The Big Green Egg is it.” Alan Murchison

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For some guests fine-dining and Michelin-starred restaurants are a regular part of life or even a hobby, but for others some uncertainty still remains about quite what to expect when you visit a restaurant such as L’Ortolan.  We invited guest blogger Simon Carter, Editor of the Fine Dining Guide, to give us his take on modern fine-dining and a guest’s view on L’Ortolan……

Come unto me, all ye that labour in the stomach and I will restore you.” Wrote Monsieur Boulanger, in 1765, on a sign above his restorative; an establishment that soon became recognized as the first ‘restaurant.’

It has been argued that the French Revolution prompted the start of fine dining restaurants in Europe.  Typically the aristocracy had private chefs, grand kitchens and servants to act as waiters.  It was only this class of people that enjoyed fine dining.  An objective of the revolution was to level out society and a byproduct was a surfeit of unemployed chefs, who had been forced out of their private commissions with wealthy families.

Quite quickly an aspiring class of people were offering a demand to these chefs; they wanted to experience what is what like to dine out in the style of the old aristocracy.  Where demand meets supply we have a market and so the market for independent fine dining restaurants was born.

Brillat-Savarin – the first great epicure – who once famously said ‘tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are’ was an early champion of fine dining and had a great cheese from Normandy named in his honour.  Brillat-Savarin cited the Paris restaurant La Grande Taverne de Loudres and the owner Antoine Beauvilliers (early 1800s), with being the first to combine his four requisites of fine dining: an elegant room, smart waiters, a good cellar and superior cooking.

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L'ortolan Reading Audi
Our ‘Day of Excellence’ last Friday was a huge success and attracted over 200 guests, old and new. A big thank you to everyone that attended and raised £800 for Hospitality Action in the raffle. We extend our  gratitude to our partners and suppliers who provided the afternoon with fabulous food and wine tasting and stunning displays.

Sommelier Craig welcomed guests with a glass of Pommery champagne and goodie bag before whisking them off on a tour around the restaurant to sample the many delights on offer. Our ‘behind the scenes’ team from marketing and reservations were on hand and enjoyed meeting  guests that they’d had the pleasure of previously arranging bookings for.

Upstairs in the bulthaup demonstration kitchen, Thermomix kept guests entertained with a rolling demonstration using their unique food processor – a favourite with L’Ortolan chefs and great for anyone with food allergies and intolerances.  Cacao Barry brought their popular chocolate samples from around the world whilst Peter from James Gourmet Coffee gave visitors the chance to experience the change in coffee flavour as it progressed through the brewing process.

James Gourmet Coffee L'ortolan

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Last week we welcomed a full house for our Burns Night Supper with whisky tasting.  The night is always a favourite for Scottish Executive Chef Alan Murchison and it was a huge success enjoyed by all!

We kicked off the celebrations with an afternoon of Tutored Whisky Tasting hosted by Stephen Nisbet. Stephen introduced guests to six whiskies during the afternoon accompanied by perfectly matched canapés.

Whisky Tasting Burns Night L'ortolan

Our afternoon guests enjoyed a few drams of whisky

The evening saw a selection of whisky transformed into cocktails and four course dinner with whisky paired to each course. Alan Murchison and his team served traditional favourites like the sirloin of beef, watercress, tortellini of haggis and oxtail and foie gras.  You can follow more of Alan’s tweets from the kitchen @AlanMurchison

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It was great this week to have a true athletics legend dining at L’ortolan on our famous ‘chef’s table’ in the heart of the kitchen. Olympic, World, European & Commonwealth sprint champion Linford Christie dined with me for lunch. Linford was at the peak of his career when I was following athletics as a young man (alongside fellow realbuzz.com blogger Sally Gunnell) and it’s safe to say he is a true legend. It was great to talk athletics, food, nutrition, teamwork and our new favourite subject Twitter, because it turns out Linford and I are big Twitter fans.

He’s a great character and still hugely passionate about sporting excellence and given 2012 and his elite training group, he is very much still involved with the sport. Linford like myself is also very much into mentoring and supporting youngsters. So it was great to hear about his plans and ambitions to be working with schools and developing an academy nurturing and encouraging talent and aspirations of excellence. It was also good to get Linford’s reaction to some of the dishes we serve at the restaurant. He is still in amazing shape, (I would easily whoop him over 10 miles though!) and is careful about his diet. As a very keen runner myself, I am fully aware of the nutritional and health elements of all the food we serve at the restaurant.

In fact two of the dishes that I serves at lunch typify the style of food that works for both foodies and athletes alike. Scallops with fregula & citrus purée combine fresh shellfish with high protein and high in complex carbohydrate fregula (ancient type of dried pasta made from semolina from Sardinia). Then I served him a Vietnamese chicken broth with pak choi and steamed sea bream. The chicken broth is flavoured with lemon grass, ginger and coriander and again, it’s low fat, healthy and nutritious. It was great for him to realise that fine dining does not mean cream, butter and fat and that healthy food can also be stunning and delicious!

Have a great week.

Alan

Originally posted on Alan Murchison’s realbuzz blog

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