Event Review: Paris House
Nestled in the heart of the Woburn Estate sits Paris House, with its grand entrance and imposing drive. This Michelin-starred destination boasts breathtaking scenes of the English countryside and deer adorning the nearby grounds.
Early on a Sunday morning, along with five other keen apprentices, we were warmly welcomed with coffee and delicious biscuits. The owner of Paris House and our teacher for the morning, Phil Fanning, gave us an explanation of the desserts we were about to create and the skills we would take away with us. Our masterclass was about to begin.
In the kitchen, all the ingredients and equipment were laid out in readiness for us. We were all relieved to discover that this was going to be a joint effort, expertly led by Phil, who gauged the tasks to suit all levels of cooking skill. Our first task was a perfect sugar syrup, and although it sounded easy, it was actually a pretty skilful operation. This formed the basis for most of the desserts we were making and, with Phil putting us at ease and confidence growing, we were soon stirring, whipping, folding, cooking, piping and blowtorch-toasting, resulting in a plate of professional-looking, delectable desserts created by ourselves. The two hours sped by and naturally our reward was to sit at the chef’s table and enjoy the fruits of our hard work as we indulged in blackcurrant parfait, marshmallow, lemon granite and the best white chocolate sauce of all time.
Having been apprentice chefs, our role was about to change to that of lunch guest. We ditched our aprons and headed back to the bar area for champagne and mouth-watering appetisers like smoked salmon with beetroot jelly and sweet potato, each one utterly bursting with intense flavour.
On our return to the chef’s table in the kitchen, the head chef, our host for lunch, introduced us to the Paris House team. From this prime position we had a clear view of the whole show, giving us a true insight into a busy Michelin-starred kitchen.
Lunch began with a fabulously light foamed sweetcorn soup, served with the most delicious assortment of tiny bread rolls and Marmite-flavoured butter. We were then served ham, egg and chips – not as you would expect, but rather a delicious ham hock served with the thinnest spirals of potatoes and a wonderful tasty miniature egg still soft in the middle. Each dish was exquisitely ornate, with a variety of herbs and edible floral decorations, elegant works of art individually finished by the head chef. Our next plate was an aged beef served with a delicious assortment of cabbages.
As we chatted between ourselves, the head chef, whilst keeping a careful eye on the growing activity in the kitchen, shared his expansive knowledge about the first-class food lovingly being created in front of us.
Our final course, and our second dessert of the day, was a delectable creation based on a beautifully light carrot cake. As we savoured our last few mouthfuls, the restaurant lunch guests began to arrive and we were treated to the unique opportunity of watching this highly professional kitchen at one of its busiest times and seeing the dynamic work involved in providing first-rate dishes to 25 guests. It was a smooth operation, mastered with precision and dedication by the whole kitchen and front-of-house team. Even at their busiest time we were not forgotten, however, and were offered tea and coffee with soft, luscious hazelnut macaroons.
Paris House runs various masterclasses, and judging from my experience, any one of them would be sure to tick all the boxes for that special date.