Chef's sweet taste of success

A SUFFOLK chef is today experiencing the sweet taste of success after his experimental dessert recipe wowed judges at a prestigious ceremony known as 'the Oscars' of the pub food industry.

Russell Claydon

A SUFFOLK chef is today experiencing the sweet taste of success after his experimental dessert recipe wowed judges at a prestigious ceremony known as 'the Oscars' of the pub food industry.

James Rogers, head of the kitchen and joint owner of The Dog Inn, Grundisburgh, has proved himself to be the cr�me de la cr�me when it comes to providing for a sweet tooth.

He scooped the title of Dessert Chef of the Year at the renowned PubChef Food Excellence Awards.

After his idea for fusing beef bone marrow into a bread and butter pudding and lightening it up with quince and lemon ice cream impressed judges, he was invited to a series of cook-offs where he pitted his culinary skills against other top pub chefs.

Mr Rogers, 29, remarkably only started self-teaching himself how to cook four years ago when he decided he had had enough of his temperamental chefs.

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Having entered the trade by buying The Dog with his brother Charles, 27, after spending time working in the antiques industry, he soon became fed up with the attitude of some of the pub's former chefs and decided to give it a go himself.

“It is really just gaining a broad understanding of food and reading as much as you can get your hands on and it all starts to make sense,” he said.

“I like taking basic dishes like bread and butter pudding and mixing it up a bit - sexing it up. I soaked it in fruit and gin and plumps, currents and cranberry so it started to take on the flavours. Then I thought about going back a couple of hundred years to when bone marrow was used as a substitute to butter and is still used a lot by the French, so I thought surely it can add another dimension to the pudding?”

Of his gutsy pudding, the expert examining panel said: “This is a great example of the simple yet high quality, locally-sourced and value-for-money food offered by our winning chefs.”

Reflecting on the award he scooped at a glitzy black tie event in London last week, Mr Rogers said: “It is fantastic news, especially with it being one of my more experimental dishes. It has given me hope I have not been banging on in the wrong direction and it is all paying off.”

The Suffolk chef also won through to the final of the Bar Dishes category of the awards, for his stalkers pie with homemade baked beans, which is one of many locally-sourced dishes on The Dog's menu.

The PubChef Food Excellence Awards 2009 are organised by pub industry 'bible' the Morning Advertiser and attract hundreds of entries from talented chefs nationwide.

Ingredients for the award-winning bone marrow bread and butter pudding:

80g fresh bone marrow

Half fresh French style baguette

80g damson gin soaked sultanas

3 free range egg yolks

2 free range eggs

Few drops good vanilla extract

50g caster sugar

400ml double cream

200ml full fat milk

20g brown sugar

Ice cream ingredients:

2 quinces

250g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

500ml double cream

4 egg yolks

Method: First grease the dish with the marrow, slice the bread and spread the remainder of the marrow on your bread, layer with the sultanas. Beat the eggs and sugar together with the vanilla, mix in the milk and cream and pour over the bread. Cover in foil and bake for 40 minutes in a Bain Marie gas 5.

Remove foil and sprinkle on the brown sugar and caramelise in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

For the ice cream and quinces; first beat the egg yolks with half the sugar until creamy, bring to the boil half the cream and pour over the yolks. Now pass and allow to cool. Whip the remainder of the cream and add the mixture. Peal and dice the quince, cook in the remainder of the sugar with two table spoons of water and the lemon zest to soften. Press through a sieve to create a pulp and add to the cream and churn in an ice cream machine until set.