My Day As A Chef at PipeDream Restaurant

As some of you may remember I contacted Pipedream Restaurant about being a Chef for a day and holding my very own afternoon tea.  Well it all took place last Saturday and here’s an overview…..

I was very nervous because I was stepping into the kitchen where Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and his fellow contestants Jackie Kearney and James Perry had already taken the reigns.  Would I be able to meet the standards they had already set?

Creating the menu

It started with creating the menu.  Mike at Pipedream left it very much up to me.  I knew I wanted something different. Something that would reflect this blog and be more of a dining experience.  I didn’t want a three tier cake stand with smoked salmon or cucumber sandwiches.  And I certainly didn’t want just scones.  I also wanted to make the tea part of the whole experience because very often people don’t have a clue which kind complements the dishes they are going to be eating.   So in view of the cold and flu season, I decided on Citrus botanicals.  Perhaps the zesty flavours would help to ward off sniffles for my guests.

The preparation

The prep started with lots of words of wisdom from Mike on what could work well and how things could be run.  I helped him to understand the vision of each of the dishes in my head.  I drew lots of pictures of how I wanted each to be presented and we settled on a three course service.

The next activity was getting my head around what and how much to order.  I am used to baking at home.  I am also used to baking and cooking for lots of people BUT usually I make lots of different dishes.  This is very, very different to cooking lots of the SAME thing.  Reverting to my office world, I created a spreadsheet for each recipe to work out exactly how much of everything I would need.

Aside from the food was artworking the recipe leaflet I wanted to hand out to everyone who came as a memento of the event.  I’d never done this before. I have a lovely team of designers at work but I really wanted to do this myself so I asked a friend to teach me Illustrator one evening and a few days later it was done and had gone to print! It was all becoming real.

Recipe Booklet

My Recipe Booklet for the event

The week before I popped in and out of Pipedream’s kitchen prepping various items – The lemon curd for the meringue could be made a few days before; the pastry could be made and rolled out into rounds ready to line and bake the in tins in the morning; the rye loaves were baked the day before in order to dry out slightly for the bruschetta etc etc.  By the end of Friday I felt prepped and completely knackered.  I was anxious how I would make it through the actual event.  My husband’s Sloe Gin was a great help:-)

Old School Orange Juicer

Prepping and Juicing - Old School

The day itself

I woke up at 5am panicking about pastry cases and cupcake frosting – and snow! Why did Zeus have to send the snow on MY special weekend!  I hoped people would not be put off or snowed in.

I got to the restaurant early.  Mike is very calm so it was pretty chilled as we finished as much prep as possible.

Lemon Meringue Tarts in Progress

Lemon Meringue Tarts ready to go with Lemon Curd

Rye Bread

Sliced Rye Bread ready to toast

Citrus macaroons. @botanicalbaker's been busy...

Macaroons filled and ready to plate up


Candied peel for cupcakes sorted

Our sous chefs arrived and I realised it was 2pm and I still had so much to do and so along came the worry of delegation.  My team at work will advocate that I am not always great at delegating.  I do like to be hands on so it was hard letting these catering students loose on my food!!  They were lovely though and did a fine job with everything I asked them to do – OK so it was mainly washing up but that helped!

Three o’clock and most people were seated and watching with interest what was going on in the kitchen via the two TVs!

The Venue: Maze Inn

Everyone's seated and ready to eat!

I welcome everyone and introduced how the the menu would flow and the teas from my wonderful tea sponsor Comins Tea House.  And the rest is a blur so I was very glad that fellow food blogger Monica Shaw was on hand to photograph the event.

The kids course – Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies and Banana Muffins.  Being a Mother I know children can get bored in restaurants so I had prepared a Kids activity booklet and brought colouring pencils for the little artists.

Urvashi at Work

The kid's course ready to go

The first course – Lemon Rolls with Halloumi and Rocket dressed in Womersley’s Lemon, Basil, Bay and Juniper Dressing and Rye and Caraway Bruschetta with Lime Guacamole.  This was served with Comins Tea House First Flush Darjeeling in glasses.

Lemon Rolls with Grilled halloumi and Rocket

Lemon Rolls with Grilled Halloumi and Rocket in Womersley Dressing

Rye and Caraway Bruschetta with Lime Guacamole

Rye and Caraway Bruschetta with Lime Guacamole

There were no major problems with that one except we had a walk in customer so had to plate it all up again for him while prepping the next course.  Mild panic!

Next up – Orange Polenta Cake with Orange and Cardamom Drizzle served in a shot glass, with a top up of the Darjeeling.

Orange Polenta Cake with Warm Cardamom Drizzle

Orange Polenta Cake with Warm Cardamom Drizzle

Judging from the feedback, this was a favourite.  Little did they know I had made one round of sugar syrup in prep that had needed to be thrown away because it had turned into caramel due to my inexperience with the professional cooker!  The new syrup tasted gorgeous even if I do say so myself.  At this point, I realised I hadn’t eaten all day so the little glassful I had gave me a real boost of energy.

And the final platter – a Lime Cupcake, a Lemon Meringue Tart and three little Citrus Macaroons.  Orange with a marmalade filling, lime with a lime frosting filling and lemon with a lemon curd filling.  Lemon was my personal favourite.  This was served with Comins Tea House Silver Needle Tea.

The Last Course

Lime Fizz Cupcake, Lemon Meringue Tart, Citrus Macaroons

Prepping the Last Course

Prepping the last course ready for service

This was the most difficult one for me because of the Italian meringue requirement.  The first batch simply didn’t work because there was an air vent blowing down on my little KitchenAid cooling the sugar syrup too quickly as it went in.  The second batch was OK but I ran out of time to pipe and went for a rustic looking topping.


No time to pipe!


Love the blowtorch!

And that was that!  I didn’t have to do any washing up so I relaxed and chatted to everyone who came.  I was overwhelmed with their positive feedback!

I’ve had a lovely write up in the local paper since and many kind words of congratulations since Saturday.  Thank you to everyone who came and was involved in helping me.

If you’d like a copy of the recipe booklet, you can order one via eBay.  If you’d like to arrange your own lunch, afternoon tea or dinner at PipeDream Restaurant please contact Mike directly

19 responses to “My Day As A Chef at PipeDream Restaurant

  1. Congratulations again for what seems to have been a wonderful event!


  2. Wow, all of it looks incredible and it sounds like a wonderful experience. I wish I could have joined you, I know how good your lemon macaroons are and everything else looks delicious too.


  3. It all looks fantastic and Monica’s pics are superb. When’s the next one?!


  4. On my goodness that all sounds and looks so delicious! Well done!


  5. oh my goodness, how very brave of you! That looks amazing, would love to eat that little lot!


  6. What a fabulous day and lovely looking food. I love the idea of tea pairing. People really do need to know that there’s so much more to tea than PG Tips! GG


  7. The idea of serving orange and cardamom drizzle on the side is fantastic (a shot of rum for grown-ups?) – what a lot of work it must have been but you made it all look so professional! I have just made some blueberry drop scones (Waitrose magazine recipe!) for the kids and a lemon drizzle – we ate so much that that was tea – well lemon and blueberries are healthy aren’t they! Look forward to seeing your next adventure.


  8. It looked amazing Urvashi. Congratulations!


  9. Blissfully Vintage

    What a truly delicious menu and looks lovely – my idea of Afternoon Tea heaven – I wish I could have been there! Rachel x


  10. Pingback: Spring flowers – just in time to eat! | The Botanical Baker

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