Mark Fitch:

Mark takes his first foray into a pro­fes­sional kitchen – Brasted’s

EDP Norfolk - - EDP NORFOLK MAGAZINE - brast­ Fol­low Mark on In­sta­gram: nor­folkhome­chef2018

Our man is in a pro kitchen

Iwas de­lighted when man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nick Mills and ex­ec­u­tive chef Chris ‘Buzz’ Busby agreed to my re­quest as I re­ally wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence (and then try to de­scribe) a pro­fes­sional kitchen at full throttle. And Brasted’s would be at full throttle, host­ing a char­ity night or­gan­ised by the Nor­folk branch of the Lord’s Tav­ern­ers in its award-win­ning Fram­ing­ham Pigot restau­rant.

I first meet chef a month be­fore the event, where for­mer Eng­land and Kent cricket cap­tain Chris Cow­drey is to be the guest speaker. I am given a brief tu­to­rial on cost­ings, tim­ings and the all-im­por­tant al­ler­gens be­fore we look at the food op­tions.

John Brasted opened his first restau­rant on St An­drew’s Hill in Nor­wich in 1984, mov­ing to the ex­quis­ite barns at Fram­ing­ham Pigot in 1999. His phi­los­o­phy of ‘great com­pany, fabulous food and won­der­ful wines as often as pos­si­ble’ is some­thing I find dif­fi­cult to dis­agree with, but on the day of the dinner, I know I must play my part in de­liv­er­ing on that prom­ise to nearly 100 hun­gry din­ers.

I ar­rive at lunchtime where my knife skills are put to the test, por­tion­ing 200 pieces of salmon fil­let. They are seared, 10 at a time, in two fry­ing pans. I dig deep, re­call­ing from my stu­dent days an abil­ity to per­form a ‘ten-ten turn-lay’ of McDon­ald’s burg­ers. There are no other com­par­isons to draw.

I then pre­pare the cold canapés in­clud­ing one with cu­cum­ber, a blue cheese mousse and a sticky ba­con and chilli jam that oozes flavour and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Thank­fully, my ef­forts pass chef’s de­mand­ing eye for de­tail. No canapé can be more than a mil­lime­tre (or two) higher than its neigh­bours.

By the time I have set them out, the proper chefs are fi­nal­is­ing the smoked duck starter. There are nearly 100 plates, each cor­re­spond­ing ex­actly to the photo Buzz has stuck to the wall. Pick­led veg­eta­bles cut through

the rich bird. Mi­cro leaves, ed­i­ble flow­ers and at least two sauces make up the dish.

And then I not only wit­ness, but take part in, the culi­nary mon­soon whereby 100 hot meals are served in a mat­ter of min­utes. A potato cake, two pieces of (beau­ti­fully-seared) salmon, a mango salsa and sam­phire are drafted onto await­ing plates by rapid and knowl­edge­able hands that seem to num­ber far more than dou­ble the amount of staff be­hind me.

I am given the priv­i­lege of adding the but­tery sauce at the pass. Those mo­ments were ev­ery­thing I hoped they would be.

The ser­vice ends with the as­sem­bling of dessert; frozen choco­late tubes filled with a creamy mousse, adorned by hon­ey­comb, blow-torched fruit and var­i­ous in­tri­cate ad­di­tions. Again, ev­ery plate re­sem­bles ex­actly the photo on the wall.

I col­lapse with a beer to the sound of laugh­ter from the din­ing room in which Mr Cow­drey is speak­ing. The stars of the show how­ever, for me at least, are Buzz’s team of chefs. [Ed­i­tor’s note: It was all de­li­cious!]

ABOVE: Mark in full flight help­ing to as­sem­ble the in­tri­cate dessert

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