A Henley-based chef has launched a new dining concept this month. Chef Simon Mckenzie recently moved on from his role as head chef at Luscombes at the Golden Ball, and has set up a unique catering business hosting pop-up and in-home dining with a difference.
Chef Simon has worked in some of the finest hotels and restaurants across the UK and the Channel Islands, and for some of the industry’s greatest – and sometimes fiercest – chefs including Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White.
Simon said, “After 25 years in the restaurant industry, I’m now bringing my skills and knowledge to guests on a much more personal level. I’ll be running monthly themed pop-up events where I’ll host an interactive masterclass to show how each dish is prepared before all the guests sit down to enjoy the meal together.”
The first of Simon’s pop-up evenings is in Henley on Saturday 5 October, and will focus of British game meats including grouse and venison.
“After welcome drinks guests will take a seat in the kitchen where I’ll will take them through more interesting elements of cooking a Michelin standard three course dinner”, said Simon. “We’ll also be using some fun kitchen kit including foam guns and pressure cookers”.
In November, Chef Simon will be hosting a Taste of Italy pop-up, followed in December by a masterclass in how to cook the perfect Sunday lunch.
The other side of Chef Simon’s new business is in-home dining. From canapés to a seven course fine dining menu, Simon will cook in your home and you and your guests are welcome to join in with the preparation to learn some of the techniques, or sit back with a glass of wine and let Simon do the work.
“For my in-home dining, I’d encourage the host and their guests to get stuck into the prep with me and ask questions”, continued Simon. “It creates a very different and unique slant on a dinner party. Of course, if guests would rather sit back with a glass or two of wine, then I completely understand that too.”
Over the last decade there has been a huge growth in consumer awareness of cooking, chefs and restaurants.
“I think TV cookery shows and glossy cook books have been great for the restaurant industry by broadening the public’s knowledge and appreciation of food”, said Simon. “But there is still some snobbery around what is perceived as fine dining. The difference with my events is that guests can get hands-on and also ask questions without feeling intimidated.I want it to be fun and for people to leave with a smile on their faces, and naturally a full tum.”