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Diploma student, Helen, dines at Mere

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Diploma student, Helen, dines at Mere

Following International Women's Day, diploma student Helen praises her experience of chef Rachel Humphrey's cooking at Chefs Reunited event at Mere restaurant.

Rachel Humphrey is perhaps less well known to the average person than other female chef at Le Gavroche, Monica Galetti. However, to me she is a truly inspirational female chef.

I too had not heard of Rachel Humphrey until last year. I was fortunate enough to enjoy her food at a ‘Chefs Reunited’ event at Monica Galetti’s restaurant, Mere. And, now I have tasted Rachel’s cooking, she will always be one of my food heroes.

What I now know about Rachel is that she worked her way up from an apprentice to the position of Head Chef at Le Gavroche. It took her 12 years but she is the first person to do so in the 40 year history of the restaurant. She also took time out from Le Gavroche to serve in the RAF catering corporation for 3 years and is currently Executive Chef at Le Gavroche.

Returning to my evening at Mere; the first thing I find inspirational about Rachel is her cooking. She served up soft shell crab with white crab meat, a mayonnaise infused with flavours of shellfish from a bisque, and a precise concasse of tomato dressed in beautifully peppery Spanish olive oil.

I only counted five things on the plate; the balance of the flavours and the perfect timing of the cooking made it incredible to eat.

Her next course was a rack of lamb with baby broad beans and new potatoes with two beautiful sauces delicately placed across the plate. Again, such a small number of ingredients and such a mind bogglingly delicious plate of food.

I recently read that a quality Rachel dislikes in other chefs is when they try to run before they can walk. She believes that cooking is a craft and we should, as chefs, all take our time honing out skills before trying to do anything else. As a trainee chef entering the industry later in life, I find this inspirational – there is the opportunity to work to develop your craft at any age.

Having had the honour of briefly meeting her at the end of the dinner, I am not surprised by this ethos. She was really interested to hear what we thought of her food and listened very intently to what we said. In fairness, there were no notes for her just praise, but I was impressed by how humble she seemed. I came away with the impression that it really matters to her.

This meal is one which has stayed with me. I can taste it in my mind as if it was yesterday. For her delicious food, her dedication to the craft and her humble demeanour, Rachel Humphrey is my most inspirational female chef and I hope to have the chance to eat her food again (and again) in the future.

Author: Helen Gurnett


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