For me the summer is never a time to lounge around and lap up the two weeks of sun that we get in Britain. It’s usually a time when I seem to spend most of the days in concert halls. This particular summer has been no exception to that rule and I found myself performing here there and everywhere as well as a spot of Friday night presenting on BBC4 for the BBC Proms. To say July and August have been busy is a bit of an understatement. So it was a delightful surprise during all the madness of my career when I was asked to become Patron of Create.
I like to do a lot of charity work and am Patron of quite a few, however I always like to be selective of which ones I want to work with. The charity needs to touch me in some way and this certainly was the case with Create.
What I love about the work Create does is the fact that it doesn’t focus on one ‘group’ of people. It manages to help a hugely diverse range of people who without it would be forgotten or over-looked. I naturally accepted this exciting invitation to become Patron and I was looking forward to discussing the ways in which I could really benefit the charity.
I was then invited to my first event as the charity’s new patron. A group of young carers from Kingston, Merton and Richmond were bought together for a week-long project at Mosimann’s Academy in Battersea. If you are unsure what Mosimann’s is then let me explain. Anton Mosimann is a Michelin star chef who was Maître Chef des Cuisines at the Dorchester Hotel for thirteen years during which time its restaurant achieved a rating of two Michelin stars.
After leaving the Dorchester, he created a private dining club called Mosimann’s, a cookery school, and other enterprises in the hospitality industry. He has also presented television programmes in the UK and Switzerland. On arrival to Mosimann’s Academy I was greeted by a group of young carers who seemed as though they had been working in the high-end hospitality industry for years.
One young man promptly asked if I would like a glass of Chablis, which I naturally accepted (he certainly didn’t need to twist my arm). Then another of the young team offered me a canapé that she had made herself. She even talked me through the ingredients and demonstrated her clear passion for food. Their week-long project was very much all their own doing. They worked alongside one of Mosimann’s chefs who also took them to Borough Market to find ingredients and help design a menu for the event. On two of the days the young carers even worked with Create’s acclaimed set and costume designer, Anett Black to design every aspect of the event. Placemats, menus, table cloths, centre pieces and even the choice of cutlery were very well thought out and put together beautifully and elegantly but with a youthful twist (tie dyed napkins).
Once we all sat down to our lunch, one of the budding chefs stood up and described the starter, which was cured salmon with flaked trout on a summer salad. She spoke with such eloquence and assurance you could have thought she was a part time Maître d’ of a Mayfair restaurant yet after the event she shared with me how nervous she was about getting up in front of people as she had never done it before. We certainly couldn’t tell.
The main was baked cod with sweet potato chips and a delicious salad, which was all expertly cooked. As I looked around the table there was not one plate with anything left on it. Always a good sign I believe. Then, for me the pièce de résistance was expertly explained by another of the young chefs, bread and butter pudding with fresh ice cream and a caramel basket.
Well, what can I say, it was absolutely superb but what astounded me more was the professional presentation. It was certainly a showstopper. Even Mark Mosimann (Anton Mosimann’s son) was impressed with the array of technique shown to pull off such a dessert. It certainly wasn’t like the stodgy bread and butter pudding I remember from school. I decided to hang around afterwards as I wanted to speak to some of the young carers who had obviously worked so hard to put this event on. Every single one of them said they enjoyed it so much, and a few of them even expressed their interest in furthering their cooking career.
Watch out Mr Mosimann, this group of young people are definitely a talented bunch.