Gala lunch starts Eat Reading LiveBy Hilary Scott
April 27, 2011
There's no such thing as a free lunch – but an upcoming charity lunch is an event money can’t buy.
Five diverse Reading restaurants will each serve up a taster course of their food to guests at the Hilton on Kennet Island on Wednesday, June 1, to kick off Eat Reading Live.
Michelin-starred l’ortolan in Shinfield, Mya Lacarte in Caversham, LSQ2 in The Oracle, Tutu’s Ethiopian Kitchen in the RISC café and the Hilton Reading will all get together in the Hilton’s kitchens to turn out a diverse menu for the lunch in aid of charity. Local producers will be celebrated, too, because most of the ingredients will be sourced from within a few miles of the Hilton.
Over the next few weeks we will talk to the chefs cooking each course, give you their recipe – and there is also give you a voucher printed in today's Reading Post so you can taste their course free!
This week we start with Caversham’s Mya Lacarte’s head chef Loic Gautier, aged 34, of Copse Avenue, Caversham.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m a French man, as you can probably gather! I came to the UK nine years ago to run my own kitchen and to learn English.
I used to work seasonally on the French Riviera, and managed to secure a job in England at The Beetle & Wedge in Moulsford. I stayed there for four years and learned a lot.
I moved to The Old Boot in Stanford Dingley as a sous chef, eventually stepping up to head chef. After three years I decided to seek a restaurant who championed what I believe in – seasonal sustained produce – and learned of Mya Lacarte’s reputation and ethos.
I worked under Remy Joly, Mya’s previous head chef, as chef de partie, so I had to start from the bottom. Unfortunately for Mya Remy moved back to France, but it opened up a great opportunity for me. I have been head chef at Mya for a year now and am very proud of my achievements here to date.
Imagine we’ve never visited your restaurant before. How would you describe what you do?
The place is privately owned by Matthew Siadatan and his influence has allowed me to run the kitchen just how I would run my own. The freedom of creating my own menus allows me to put my heart and soul into everything I do. I have a great brigade in my kitchen, and the front of house is extremely professional too. It’s a perfect formula for any restaurant.
How would you describe your culinary style?
My style is taken from old French but over the years has formed a modern influence. Our ingredients at Mya allow me to be creative. I use British seasonal produce and source it as locally as possible, then use methods from all over the world to transform it into healthy, tasty dishes.
What’s your favourite dish on your menu and why?
That’s too hard to answer. I change my a la carte menu in its entirity every season and our daily menu changes every month, so in all I change the menus almost 20 times a year, if you include our tasting nights too! So to answer, I would have to be more general and say I love working with spring and summer produce. It’s so colourful and vibrant, and seeing all our produce come in first thing in the morning brightens our kitchen up.
How important is sourcing produce locally to you?
Mya Lacarte is a British seasonal produce restaurant, all our ingredients are sourced from within the shores of the UK. This is our ethos and belief. This reduces the energy needed to grow and transport the food we eat, avoids paying a premium for food that is scarcer or has travelled a long way, supports the local economy – especially in the current market – reconnects us with nature’s cycles and the passing of time but, most importantly, the food is fresher and so tends to be tastier and more nutritious.
What tempted you to get involved with the Eat Reading Live launch lunch?
Being a charity-based lunch, it makescomplete sense to involve yourself in as much of this work as possible.
Also, Tony Cole from LSQ2 championed this idea and it’s a perfect opportunity for restaurants in Reading to work together.
Upon meeting him the other day, he said it’s important for us all to help each other and I couldn’t agree more.
Why did you choose this particular taster dish?
This dish represents all things great about British produce.
It’s healthy, vibrant and so tasty.
Is there another dish on the launch lunch menu that you’re particularly looking forward to?
I can’t wait to try Tutu’s dish from the Ethiopian table.
I’ve heard great things about her place.
What’s your favourite restaurant/food haunt in or around Reading and why?
The Sweet Olive Restaurant in the heart of Aston Tirrold in South Oxfordshire.
It’s run by a Frenchman so I may be a little biased but I love going there.
It has a lovely atmosphere and great food.
Why should Reading be on the food map?
Mya was lucky enough to make the top 100 UK restaurants at the National Restaurant Awards last year.
We came 50 out of 100 and were mixing with the likes of the Fat Duck, Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay.
They are all London based but at the awards it was noted that a lot more restaurants outside London, especially within the Home Counties, were making an appearance.
I’ve eaten at other restaurants in Reading and love them.
I think soon we may start to see other Reading-based restaurants go on to do great things as well.
Local purple sprouting salad and house dressing
60g purple sprouting broccoli
40g garden peas
40g pea shoots
40g golden shoots/yellow shoots
40g broad beans
40g spring onion
60g seasonal leaves
50g caster sugar
50ml white wine vinegar
1 star anise
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp grainy mustard
1tsp local honey (clear)
3tsp white wine vinegar
1 sprig of thyme
100ml rapeseed oil
Slice the radishes and put them in a bowl. Bring all the marinade ingredients to the boil in a small pan and pour the mixture into the bowl with the radishes. Leave to marinate for a good while.
Blanch the broccoli in salted water until slightly soft, but still nice and crunchy, then cool them down.
In a bowl, mix the broccoli, peas, golden and pea shoots, broad beans, spring onion, seasonal leaves and the pickled radish.
For the dressing, put mustards, honey, white wine vinegar and thyme leaves in a jug blender, and while blending, slowly add the rapeseed oil until the desired consistency is reached.
Dress plate to serve.