As Scott Manson discovers, StarChefs are bringing the best of British restaurants to your home….
One of the few bright lights of our challenging year has been the ingenuity of chefs and restaurants. Despite premises being closed, top chefs and fine dining spaces have created brilliant at-home menus so that even the most technically-challenged home chef can create restaurant-worthy plates of food.
Of course, these high-end meal kits can never replace the experience of eating out – the theatre, the sounds, the smells, the anticipation of culinary delights to come – but they help to break up the mundanity of our current domestic dining situation. After all, there’s only so much Ubereats food that you can take before you yearn for something more special.
Step forward then StarChefs – a platform to showcase Britain’s most exciting and promising culinary talent. They take the best creations from a diverse selection of the country’s top chefs and help you to recreate restaurant-quality dining experiences.
St Patrick’s Day on March 17th sees StarChefs release its second helping of home dining. The four-course St Patrick’s Day meal has been created by celebrated Irish chef, Robin Gill (pictured above), who’s the talent behind five popular restaurants including The Bermondsey Larder, Darby’s and Birch Community. He was also the driving force between the brilliant Clapham-based The Dairy restaurant. The St Patrick’s Day special follows the sell-out success of StarChefs’ first release (for Chinese New Year) with Michelin-starred chef, Andrew Wong, of A.Wong fame.
Available for nationwide delivery, the St Patrick’s Day box (£150 for two people), which is supported by Redbreast premium Irish whiskey, can be pre-ordered from the StarChefs website. The box is available in limited numbers for delivery from Wednesday 17th – Saturday 20th March.
My box came neatly packaged with plenty of padding for the chilled vac-packed produce. There was an easy-to-follow recipe card (plus some neat suggestions for Irish-themed games to play on the night) and, frankly, an enormous amount of food for two people. In a world where fine dining normally means small portions, this is unquestionably a good thing.
Each box comprises four courses of indulgent and refined comfort food, designed to reflect Robin’s experiences of growing up in Ireland, and to celebrate the exceptional produce he takes pride in sourcing.
A quick bit of pastry piping saw me create some melt-in-the-mouth County Cork gubbean and smoked haddock gougères, while a similarly speedy bit of plate dressing resulted in a restaurant-quality looking dish of London-cured Secret Smokehouse salmon served with Robin’s soda bread, and wild Atlantic seaweed butter.
The big hitter though – and one which I’m still dreaming about now – was the spectacular main course. Served in a cute cast-iron skillet pan (provided), the standout dish was the rich beef and bone marrow pie to share, topped with a luxurious croissant pastry and served with sides of Kerrygold butter mashed potato and pot-roast cabbage with kale crisps. It was so easy to create with just a bit of artful draping of pastry rings, but the result looked spectacular and tasted sublime. Deep, gutsy and more-ish, as well as generous enough that there was some left for the next day’s lunch. A finale of Pump Street chocolate mousse with sea salt and Redbreast whiskey caramel rounded off the occasion.
Two drinks per person were also included courtesy of award-winning premium Irish whiskey, Redbreast. We enjoyed a Redbreast Old Fashioned cocktail each, plus a neat measure of superior, 12 year old Redbreast Irish whiskey.
A nice final touch is that diners also have access to a unique Irish playlist created by Robin himself. They can also log on to a whiskey tasting tutorial between Robin and Redbreast’s ambassador, Ronan Collins.
However you choose to enjoy it, this is a fine way to spend a special day and I can’t wait to see which star chef will be next to join this squad. There’s a Tom Aikens (Muse) meal box in the offing, I hear, so that could well mean that my wife’s birthday in May is covered too. So, to StarChefs and, indeed, all the restaurateurs who have pivoted to home delivery, I salute you. And I can’t wait to see your restaurants busy and buzzing once again.
Boxes cost £150 for two people, including nationwide delivery. The StarChefs St Patrick’s Day feasting box with Robin Gill is available from www.starchefs.co.uk.