John Campbell took me on a tour of his impressive kitchen within the Vineyard at Stockcross, the other day. John’s cooking, which won him a well-deserved second Michelin star earlier this year, is based squarely upon the sous vide method. It’s a method he promotes with an evangelist’s zeal.
I love John’s boundless energy and infectious passion for food. As we talked, he grabbed a marker pen off a passing chef and began to sketch out his blueprint for preparing perfectly-cooked cuts of meat on a nearby fridge door, like a white-coated Rolf Harris. I only hope the ink wasn’t permanent …
Of course, sous vide is nothing new, but it’s the way John has built the hotel’s entire food offering around it that is really interesting. John talks about ‘de-risking’ the business of serving food, and certainly there’s a discernable calmness and order to his kitchen. Already, many eminent chefs are sending scouts down to the Vinyard to witness his system, first-hand.
Incidentally, my lunch at the Vineyard was phenomenal, and threw up some interesting taste combinations, such as lemon curd and scallops.
Talking of Michelin stars, I have just started what looks set to be a really interesting book about the life and death of Bernard Loiseau, the French chef who took his own life in 2003 after the stress of maintaining three Michelin-star status grew too hard to bear. It’s called the Perfectionist, and I’ll tell you more about it as I progress. So far, I’ve learned that the phenomenon of the French provincial super-chef emerged when cars became available to rich city-dwellers, and mass rapid travel became possible. It’s no coincidence that the great provincial houses in France tend to be on the country’s main arterial roads.
What food-related books are you reading at the moment? Anything you’d recommend? let us know.