An adventure to a paleo & gluten free pop up kitchen – set in a professional restaurant!
Keen to get as much experience in nutrition, cooking and the like outside of my personal experiences writing this blog, last week I was invited down to the Pure Taste Pop Up restaurant by proprietor Holly Taylor to suss out what goes on behind the scenes. Pure Taste is a pop-up restaurant in Sussex that specialises in gourmet gluten-free and paleo-friendly food. Once a month, the pure taste team take over Jeremy’s Restaurant, which is located in the stunning locations of Borde Hill Gardens near Haywards Heath.
My task was largely to assist Holly and the team with various tasks throughout the prep and service, but also served to give me a taster of the environment of a working restaurant kitchen – and a completely paleo/gluten-free one at that. Let’s just say it was nothing like the experience of cooking up a meal in Ceri’s kitchen!
Holly’s Menu changes each month, and offers a variety of choices for Paleo, gluten-free-ers, dairy-free-ers, vegans & vegetarians (if requested). With a selection of breads to start, followed by a canapé, starter, main course, dessert, Petit fours AND coffee – using all nutritionally good for you ingredients – there is no question that it is worth the modest price tag of £30 per head. Dietary restrictions or not this is a fabulous menu!
So what goes on behind the scenes you all want to know?
I arrived mid afternoon, just in time to help with all the prep for evening service. Many aspects of the menu had been prepared in advance by Holly on the preceding days – marinades, tarts, jelly, ice-creams – but there is still so much lot to be done since many ingredients must be prepped fresh on the day. Cue lots of chopping, slicing, skewering, marinading and filleting from the team. Plus I had the rather enjoyable task of fetching vine leaves & edible flowers fresh from Jeremy’s garden – purely for decorative purposes!
I spent the evening during service working with Rebecca on desserts. It was fun working as a team, having the rather arduous task of squeezing chocolate sauce decoratively all over the plates, warming through slices of pecan pie in the oven, scattering over freeze-dried raspberries and learning some top tips on how to keep a scoop of ice-cream on a plate (slithered almonds work a treat). Each dish is literally plated up in the 2 minutes before the customer receives it.
Once service was over, worktops were wiped down, and the kitchen cleaned ready for handing back to Jeremy I had the opportunity of sampling a smorgasbord of leftovers piled onto one plate. The stuffed vine leaves were my absolute favourite (look out for my own interpretation soon), the stuffed chicken delicious, and the cauliflower cous-cous noticeably tasty (so citrussy). I may have also enjoyed a slither of mango pie and some petit fours… I’m personally very used to eating paleo food, but I am confident in saying a newcomer to this style of eating would honestly not notice the absence of refined ingredients, grains, glutens, legumes and white sugar so often found in gourmet restaurant meals.
All in all fab experience which was close to feeling like the fastest 7 hours of work in my life. Many thanks to Holly and the team for making me feel so welcome.
p.s All my photos were taken during service, so firstly must apologise for the poor lighting, reflections and shadows. Not an ideal time or place to create fabulous food photography…