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Christmas Presents

The restaurant where everyone’s a critic

Ever wondered how dishes end up on the menu? At Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano in Covent Garden, the chefs aren’t the only ones who get to choose. Everyone on the team, from waiters to bar staff and managers, gets a say. For a behind-the-scenes peek at how it works, we gatecrashed a tasting session, then sneaked off with the resulting menu. Our verdict: bravissimo!
PHOTOGRAPHS MIKE ENGLISH STYLING REBECCA NEWPORT

FOOD STYLING MONIQUE LANE

INTRODUCTION:DAISY MEAGER

Pre-service briefings at Café Murano with executive head chef Sam Williams (right) and head chef Allyson McQuade (main picture, second from right) are more than a run-down of the latest menu. After going through the nuts and bolts of the day’s service ahead, the team sit down together to taste the food they’ll be serving later. “It’s important everyone at the restaurant understands the dishes, knows how they work and tastes them,” says Sam. Tasting sessions aren’t just about the staff knowing what they’re serving. They’re also about giving feedback to the chefs and being part of the recipe development process.

“The palates of the staff outside the kitchen haven’t been influenced by the trials Allyson and I do when we create and perfect a dish,” says Sam. “It’s good to get their honest opinion – and when they all rave about a dish, you know you’re onto something good. They all loved the muscovado tart – and it was an immediate winner with customers.” If a member of the team isn’t keen on something, they’re listened to.

“They could be voicing a customer’s viewpoint,” says Sam. “Often it’ll be something simple for us to change, such as the amount of seasoning.”

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About Delicious Magazine

This February, let delicious. bring sunshine into your kitchen with an Italian menu from Angela Hartnett, slow-cooked comfort food to gladden the soul, and a pub quiz with bar snacks to boost the brain. Plus homemade pizzas, healthy curries, foolproof crumpets and your favourite old school puddings. Not forgetting heartwarming tales and recipes from Rosemary Shrager and Allegra McEvedy and a clutch of easy midweek meals from Donna Hay, the queen of Aussie cooking.
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