It’s not often you get the chance to have your dinner cooked for you by a two Michelin starred chef so when the opportunity arose for a seat at Claude Bosi’s table during ‘An Evening With…’ at the Divertimenti Cookery School on Brompton Road, it was something I’d have climbed over my own sister to be a part of…
…luckily it didn’t come to that. I still have a sibling who’s on speaking terms with me and when I arrived to find there would be only 6 other people there with me, it became even more of a charming & personal interaction with this hugely talented & passionate chef.
Chef Bosi, a classically trained alumnus of several of France’s finest restaurants including L’Arpege and Restaurant Alain Ducasse, is perhaps best known in the UK as the culinary genius behind Hibiscus, a Michelin star appointed restaurant based first in Ludlow and then London, and his inventive & respectful takes on French cuisine have won him fans both here and across the seas.
Five courses – each paired with wines – were prepared in front of us by Bosi and his two sous chefs in a kitchen that was unbelievably calm, organised & confident, traits of working that he instills in his kitchens.
Comte & Cheddar Gougeres were our starting point for the evening’s feasting; rustic nuggets of perfectly cooked, soft centred, crispy edged cheesey goodness, each one lightly hand dusted with freeze dried cheese powder. There are times when you want party food to look aspirational and times when you simply want it to look comfortably welcoming and these plum sized, choux pastry dollops were the ultimate in homely-meets-chic appetizers, marrying beautifully with a glass of cold, crisp champagne.
Our second course of Oeuf en Cocotte was eye-opening in terms of the flavour pairings used. Call me unimaginative but I’m not sure anyone’s first instinct would be to partner rich, earthy, chestnut mushroom duxelle with an incredibly light & fluffy coconut foam and a heavy dusting of curry powder but a spoonful that dug deep through every delicate, hearty layer resulted in a gorgeous combination of flavours and textures.
The flawlessly beheaded duck egg that it came presented in – sliced immaculately as if by Bond villain laser – was just the right size as parts of this dish were deceptively rich but it was fascinating to see how key elements (the airy foam in particular) could be used with other flavours that you might not immediately picture.
A concept championed at this dinner was using every part of an ingredient and the following two courses illustrated this perfectly. A silky bavarois full of flavour was made with brown crab meat and covered with shredded white crab meat before being toppe with a sweet but understated pomegranate jelly & sea herbs that were individually placed onto each plate with the diligence & precision of a brain surgeon.
I loved this care & attention to detail; I’m a big fan of small plates and sharing platters but sometimes I just want a single dish all of my own, where the pride in preparation and the meticulous attention to detail shine with a quiet, understated assurance. The fruit cut through the richness of the bavarois without overpowering the glorious taste of the sea washed in by every piece of that crab.
A depiction of the perfect way to prepare and pan cook partridge came next with individual red-legged birds being deconstructed on the table in front of us and wings being cooked confit to serve alongside the roasted birds.
Slabs of velvety dauphinoise were given a contemporary makeover with sliced celeriac & Pink Lady apple creating a lighter version of a perfect-for-winter side dish that’s normally heavy & decadent whilst white & purple cauliflower were grated, seasoned with herbs & scattered with pomegranate seeds to create a vibrant vegetarian accompaniment to the crispy skinned, tender fleshed partridge.
This shot of purple lifted the entire dish creating the prettiest of plates with the cruciferous vegetable proving a light & clever way of balancing a current trend with a traditional dish.
Dessert was ushered in via a dark chocolate pastry shell, crisp & reassuringly light, fattened up with a dark chocolate filling that doubles up perfectly as molten chocolate fondant. Served with a quenelle of vanilla bean ice-cream and the coolest nod to pop culture in the shape of an edible superhero ‘pow-boom-bang’ chocolate disc, this was ball gown, sweat pants, high brow, low brow comfort food at its finest.
Oozy and thickly luxurious, the recipe itself was uncomplicated and I liked the feeling of (foolish?!) confidence that I left this dinner in possession of, namely the idea that some things could be tackled with relaxed ease on a Sunday afternoon while others would require more thought & multiple attempts!
This was French cooking that leaned heavily on heritage while being shot through with touches of modernity that showed a clever chef aware of the need to honour the past while adapting to an ever changing culinary landscape and I absolutely adored it. You might not be able to tell what a person is like after only a few hours in their company but as a chef, it’s crystal clear that Bosi is engaging, inventive and interested in the opinions of those who were eating his food, something which I’d be delighted to do again and again.