“Lady of liberty and mother of freedom and justice to all. Who offers her welcome to whomever may call, be them rich, poor or oppressed… a gift of friendship from France to the U.S.”
As 4th of July preparations were being made all over the world, our own had already begun earlier in June @SWFish had been approached by Tom at @EATwithLINLEYS who had been contracted to run all the catering at a wedding being held at @HuntshamCourt on the 4th of July. The theme would be exceptional Street Food with an american twist. A tailored menu for the Bride, Groom and all their guests. One dish requested on the menu (the Bride and Grooms favourite) was Lobster Thermidor and the Eat team contract this to us. The importance being, Providence, Traceability and ensuring the seafood provided was ethically and responsibly sourced. Emphasising the provence, ensuring the seafood was responsibly sourced wouldn’t be a problem, but had I ever cooked lobster Thermidor myself? Nope… Had I ever tasted it? … I recall one fuzzy memory of when I had been on holiday in Cornwall one summers afternoon. For this I was going to need some help. One evening after pursuing several lost leaders trying to find an ideal candidate to help with this seafood adventure. A momentous bit of serendipity occurred on Twitter, I’d just been followed by Jamie Patrick Porter, Head Chef at St Moritz Hotel with 11 years experience with Michel Roux senior & Rick Stein. After a frantic late night conversation — he perfectly suited the the ethos of SWFish. His background, personal story and ambition, inspired me.
SWFish would be in safe hands with this guy on board.
Before we went ahead with the wedding we had to do a tasting to ensure the dish was perfect and that we were all up to the challenge…
Heading up to Devon a few lobsters in hand — we tested the water with two different dishes. A traditional Lobster Thermidor recipe featured in Rick Stein’s Seafood Cookery Book, which Jamie had come a custom to cooking as a sous chef in Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow. The other was Jamie’s own creation, using more of the roe and Crème fraîche, to give it a lighter texture and delicate flavour.
Both were delicious but in the end the bride and groom decided on Jamie’s own recipe.
Sourcing the Lobster
The quantity of lobsters caught worldwide has almost doubled in the last 10 years. Popularity and demand is at an all time high — fuelling a decrease in the price of Lobster for our local fishermen. It has positively helped revive other fishing communities around the globe as far reaching as Nova Scotia.
But back home, there is a shared sentiment that we need to look after our own lobster fishermen here in Cornwall and Devon. This fall in price makes it paramount for us to pay a fair, responsible price for the lobster we buy, choosing local native lobster over the Canadian imported lobster, will help preserve our fishing communities into a sustainable future. For us this is very important and forms part of our community pledge and responsibility as a CIC (Community Interest Company). Shortening supply chains and ensuring the majority of the price paid gets directly in the hands of the fishermen who do the perilous job of catching these tasty little critters.
Friday the 3rd of July we met with Phil Trilbilcock down at Newquay Harbour. Phil is well renowned for being an advocate for quality Cornish seafood. He has supplied our crab for well over a year for events across Cornwall, through Perran Seafoods a local family run crab picking business based in Indian Queens — Quality is to the highest standard and we’re always assured that it has been caught by Phil’s boat Loyal Partner. We are always happy to pay a fair price for his produce.
Although this event was in Devon we didn’t want to risk a new supplier at short notice and Phil’s passion for shellfish is simply overwhelming, we really enjoy supporting him.
Less than 24hrs these little critters were in the pot, being boiled up and prepared to make the occasion special.
Preparation is the key — once you get into a rhythm, the process follows. Lobsters boiled, the separating of the claws and halving the bodies begun. Having all 58 lobster laid out split in half on a single marble table is quite a sight. Jamie continued to prepare the sauce and plates were set up with fresh leaf, dulse seaweed and viola salads. As the lobster were ready the sauce went on and parmesan cheese was added and back under the grill they went. Flying out thick and fast, we plated them up as quickly as we could. In total serving the dish took about an hour and a half. It was good fun.
Each guest received a provenance card (see photo above) telling them about Phil, the lobsters they were eating — and what we planned to do to make this dinning experience as sustainable as possible. We had plucked these little beauties out of the water off the coast of Newquay, less than 24 hours prior. It made sense for us to ensure they were replaced by the hard work done by The National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow.
Sustainability and The aftermath
Prior to the event Jamie and I agreed to give £1.75 per dish back to the Hatchery, in line with their awesome Buy One Set One Free Scheme — giving us a grand total of £101.50 to continue their work! As a bonus my mum single handily ran another event that day and raised an additional £35!
All in all, we made £136.50 for the Hatchery!
A job well executed by everyone involved!
The dish turned out perfectly and clean plates were returned, the guests were over the moon. We did fifty eight servings, quite an accomplishment for a small team. It was great pleasure working with Jamie, Tom and Aisha from Linleys and the rest of the hospitality team at Huntsham Court. We’re waiting to see what the next opportunity will bring! :-)