Parcs - the fully fledged restaurant at Peterborough Regional College that helps produce the next generation of trained hospitality and catering staff – held its guest chef evening last week, and it was a privilege to be invited along.
The restaurant - unassuming by modern standards but comfortable and sufficiently spacious -is staffed front of house and in the kitchen by students, under the tutorship of professionals.
No surprise it is once again in the running for the AA Hospitality College Restaurant of the Year award - looking to better last year’s fourth placing.
It opens for lunch, Tuesday to Friday, and Thursday evenings for fine dining, with a number of special themed nights throughout the calendar - the pinnacle being the hugely popular, sold out, Guest Chefs event.
Parcs is something of a hidden gem - despite being around since the early 1990s it is largely unheralded. And, to be fair, that is how they like it, not wanting to be seen competing with the city’s food and drink businesses.
The four-course affair got off to a great start with smalec- a traditional Polish dish provided by Peterborough-based celebrity chef Damian Wawrzyniak, mine host at the House of Feasts in Eye Green. The fact he was away in Poland receiving an “honour” from the President says something about the calibre of “guests” providing the food.
The thick, smooth pork pate was surprisingly light, and went down well spread on his homebaked sourdough bread with a selection of pickles - gherkins, carrots and my favourites, beetroot.
The fish course came courtesy of a college success story - Samantha Jones, now a chef de partie at the Atlantic Hotel in Jersey, a restaurant headed up by highly rated Will Holland.
The mackerel dish was nicely presented and the taste of the fish complemented by the flavour of the cucumber .
Howard Bissett, head chef at the RAC Club, in London, provided a stunning main - his ribeye of pork, which was thick and juicy, serving a reminder of what an undervalued, underrated ingredient pork is. It was boosted with great flavours from the caremalised apple, heritage beetroot and pickled cabbage, all brought to life by a fantastic pork reduction jus.
Dessert proved unexpectedly good with textures of rhubarb and custard more than tickling the tastebuds, courtesy of RAF Wittering’s corporal Daniel Holt.