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Burns Night Banquet at TASTE Restaurant

The Burns Night Banquet is a decades-long tradition at the West London College’s TASTE Restaurant and this year’s event on 24 January was no exception. Staff and students worked tirelessly throughout the day to prepare the complicated dishes using game meat of hare and venison for the five-course feast. There were 63 guests in attendance at the dinner, which raised nearly £2000 for the college as an extra revenue stream.

Burns Night at TASTE Restaurant
Burns Night at TASTE Restaurant

Chef and lecturer Bob Carruthers read poems by Robbie Burns at the special evening, which was all the more memorable for him as it was also his birthday and wedding anniversary. Chef Bob said: “The Burns Night dinner meant learning about and preparing game meat, which was kindly sponsored by Lincolnshire Game. This event enabled me to sign off the entire Game Unit for Preparation and Cookery of Fur and Feathered Game for our Level 3 students.”

Head of Service Industries, Denise Charles said: “To have a function with this many guests gives the students a realistic experience of what it’s like to work in a busy restaurant in industry. It also raises students’ awareness of game and introduces them to species they may not have encountered before.”

Chef Bob, Olu Edu, Jahmi Freeman-Wright and Laurie Ballard
Chef Bob, Olu Edu, Jahmi Freeman-Wright and Laurie Ballard

Professional Cookery Level 3 student Jahmi Freeman-Wright who works at the Red Carnation Hotel The Chesterfield in Mayfair, said: “It was a fun evening. I like to check how we cook things at work and then try that out at college. I grilled the venison on either side to sear it and then cooked it in the oven for 2-3 minutes.”

Professional Cookery Level 3 student Laurie Ballard works at the RAF Club as an apprentice chef. Laurie made the venison sauce. He said: “I created the sauce with venison stock and truffles. I got quite a lot of compliments from the diners.”

Professional Cookery Level 3 student Olu Edu who works for an agency called Berkeley Scott and Japanese restaurant Tonkotsu made the canapes. Olu said: “I’ve never done a Burns Night before so it was fascinating to learn about all the traditions involved.”

Feedback from diners at the Burns night included:

  • ‘A very organized and enjoyable evening had by all. Thank you to everyone involved, we received great customer service by all the students!’
  • ‘The staff were amazing and so polite. The food was delicious, I was worried that I would be too full to finish everything but the sizes of the portions were on point and the flavours just amazing! Thank you for a fantastic evening!’
  • ‘From canapés to dessert the food was first class and the themed tables added to the great atmosphere. Addressing the haggis was brilliant! All food arrived piping hot and tasted delicious!’

The full menu for the Burns Dinner was:

  • Canapes
    Atholl Brose is a Scottish drink obtained by mixing oatmeal brose, honey, whisky and cream
    Haggis Bonbons with Wholegrain Mustard & Whisky Mayo 
    Treacle and Single Malt Cured Salmon, Scotch Pancakes, Black Pepper Crème Fraiche and Pickled Cucumber
    Potato Cakes with Crème Fraiche and a Whisky Glazed Roasted Cherry Tomato (vegetarian)
    Vegetarian Haggis Bhaji with Wholegrain Mustard Mayo (vegan)
  • Starter Course
    Hare Soup – Bawd Brie
    Cockless Leekie 
  • Intermediate 
    Haggis, Bashed Neeps and Champit Tatties – Whisky Sauce (vegetarian alternative available)
    Served with a glass of Malt Whisky
  • Main Course 
    Pan-fried Venison, Haggis, Chanterelles, Leeks, Potato, Beetroot and Truffle Jus with Parmentier Potatoes
    Stoved Whisky Soaked Barley with Wild Mushrooms (vegetarian)
  • Dessert
    Cranachan – Raspberries folded in cream, honey, whisky and caramelised oats
    Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee sauce and custard

This valuable experience whilst studying for our students was facilitated by the generous sponsorship of sustainable British game from Lincolnshire Game, secured by The Chefs’ Forum. This year’s sponsors also included Berkeley Group.

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