Selecting the right menu for your celebration party is a crucial factor that could determine the level of its success. Catering for large numbers of people, all with different tastes and possibly with special dietary requirements isn’t something you do every day – but luckily we do!
Our new Head Chef, Alan Jones, has plenty of parties and celebration dishes in his repertoire and knows how to combine flavours and dishes to delight the most jaded of palates and excite even the most experienced partygoer. We asked him what tips he would give someone who is organising a celebration at Clevedon Hall:
Q: What’s the secret to helping clients find the ideal menu?
A: It’s all about giving the client what they want. We’re here to guide them in their choices, to make suggestions and think of possibilities that might not have occurred to them. Every party menu is designed to include the host’s favourite dishes and to provide a talking point, as well as simply feeding hungry guests.
Q: You have classical training in some of the top kitchens in the country. How does this influence what you would suggest for a menu?
A: Classic French dishes are appropriate for some situations – perhaps a corporate dinner party or an anniversary celebration. Over the years, I’ve cooked a wide variety of dishes, in many different styles and the key is selecting the best of these for the particular party.
Q: Would you encourage street food and mobile food vans? They seem very popular right now, especially for weddings.
A: Yes, of course! We like to include food that is novel and fun, so if the client wants to bring an ice-cream van or have a Caribbean barbecue in the grounds, that’s great. We have wonderful gardens, which allows partygoers to spend time outside while enjoying delicious food.
Q: Do you have a signature dish that you like to suggest?
A: If I had to choose one dish to cook it would probably be fish, for it’s both light and fresh in texture and flavour. I like to create a dish with impact and explore the delicate flavours, which by cooking fish, I find it often allows me to do so. Having said that, the majority of celebration events include a meat dish, as it is seen as a safer option.
Q: You’ve worked in a wide range of culinary establishments, from gastro pubs to fine dining with a fair sprinkling of Michelin stars and AA rosettes. What will this experience bring to Clevedon Hall?
A: It’s helpful to have experience in a wide variety of events, from corporate lunches to banqueting, parties and weddings. It means that I’m able to match the style of the party with suggestions for the menu and even include a few little surprise touches to delight the guests.