It’s not every day you get invited to dinner prepared by a top chef, but last week the lovely people at Gü Chocolate Puds invited me and fellow food blogger Kavey over for a meal specially prepared by their head chef Fred Ponnavoy.
And so it was we arrived at Gü Brand Manager Meghan Farren’s beautiful apartment to find Fred and his sous chef Jerome already hard at work preparing our six course meal. They’d actually been hard at work all afternoon – something that was soon apparent from the quantity and quality of the food.
This is apparently the kind of thing the people at Gü do just for the fun of it. Fred & his sous chef put various concepts for meals into a hat (“everything white”, “everything raw”, etc.) and pick one at random to prepare as a challenge. This time they chose “everything chocolate” and decided to invite a couple of bloggers along to share the experience.
The evening started with canapés and a simple but delicious cocktail made with creme de cacao and vodka, decorated with a mini cocoa pod. This was far too easy to drink, and I drank far too much, hence the slightly vague and rambling nature of this post.
Next up, beautiful crisp bread with foie gras made by Jerome’s mum and a chocolate spread.
And then there were the snails. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten snails before. It’s certainly not the kind of thing I’d order for myself in a restaurant, but when a top chef is preparing a meal just for you, you want to try everything.
These particular snails were prepared with chocolate (I’m not sure how, exactly), and served with mushrooms, bacon and green leaves. Lots of interesting textures here, and although I still wouldn’t order this kind of dish in a restaurant, I ate it all.
Probably my favourite course of the evening was the “Gülash”. A rich, thick goulash made with dark chocolate and lots of spices. Served with the most amazingly light gnocchi, it was the perfect winter warmer dish, and I couldn’t help but ask for seconds. Fred was kind enough to share the recipe for this, and we’ll be posting it soon.
And then came the dessert courses. Four of them to be precise, despite Fred’s insistance at every point of the evening that there were “only two more courses”, somehow the dishes kept arriving.
We started with a hot soufflé-like chocolate dish made with whipped egg whites and served with home made coffee ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Very rich in flavours, but light enough not to fill you up (as if we weren’t full enough by this stage).
Next up, a dish made with caramelised pears and crisped rice, covered in a dark chocolate dome.
Hot chocolate sauce is poured over the domes at the table, and before your eyes, the domes completely melt away.
By this stage in the evening, we were all pretty full. That could only mean it was time for the petits fours. Chocolate macarons (Kavey felt there was too much filling, I felt you can never have too much chocolate filling in anything), and little slabs of Madagascan dark chocolate.
The evening was finished off by a sharp and refreshing grapefruit granita – the one dish that didn’t contain any chocolate. Technically, I could argue that means that Fred & Jerome failed in their “everything chocolate” challenge, but it was the perfect end to one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in a long time.
Not only were the dishes beautiful and tasty, but the company was perfect. Meghan and her husband were perfect hosts, and Fred & Jerome came and joined us at the table between preparing courses. We chatted about Gü, chocolate and food in general, and the evening just felt like having dinner with old friends.
I’m still not entirely sure why I was lucky enough to be invited, but I’m so happy I was. It was such a unique opportunity, and something completely out of the ordinary. I doubt I’ll get the chance to do something like that again, but I’ll certainly not be turning down any dinner invitations from the people at Gü if they do.