Pub and TV chefs join up in pubco workshops

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Celebrity chefs have been sharing their expertise with pub chefs in a series of high-profile workshops run by two leading pubcos.Tony Tobin, a...

Celebrity chefs have been sharing their expertise with pub chefs in a series of high-profile workshops run by two leading pubcos.

Tony Tobin, a regular on the BBC's Ready Steady Cook and adviser to fresh-food-led brand Chef & Brewer, joined the Observer's wine writer Tim Atkin to hold a food and wine workshop in Manchester earlier this month.

The workshop was for chefs and managers from the brand, which was bought from Scottish & Newcastle by Spirit Group last week.

"The workshop was not intended to teach these chefs how to cook - they can do that extremely well already," said Mr Tobin. "Instead we concentrated on looking at new ideas together and encouraging creativity and boldness in the kitchen."

Chef & Brewer chefs have to create an extensive specials board which means they are always looking for inspiration. In the workshop they discussed techniques for cooking with shellfish and demonstrated a range of dishes including prawn cocktail with a twist - braised iceberg lettuce and prawns cooked lightly in batter served with a lemon aioli.

"Chef & Brewer customers are getting more adventurous which is great news for us," Mr Tobin added. "But our challenge is to tempt them with more unusual ingredients, new twists on old classics and creative ideas."

The day also included some advice from Mr Atkin on how to match wine with food.

"The workshop has taught us to be even more innovative and creative, but also not to be afraid of serving simple dishes that rely on the freshest seasonal ingredients," said Paul McNamara, licensee of the De Trafford in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Meanwhile Mr Tobin's Ready Steady Cook rival Paul Rankin was giving Greene King chefs the benefit of his experience at a workshop in Northamptonshire.

He talked to the chefs about how he juggles running his restaurant and his life as a celebrity chef. He then answered questions about cooking techniques as well as issues such as staff motivation.

But the day was not all talk. Mr Rankin was presented with a bag of ingredients, chosen by the Greene King chefs, as part of a Ready Steady Cook challenge. He then returned the challenge and chose two sets of pub chefs to take part.

Pictured: Paul Rankin (right) with Greene King chef Christian Rivran.

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