TOP CHEFS CELEBRATE CORNISH ASPARAGUS

PUBLISHED: 10:42 27 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:39 30 August 2017

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Top Cornish chefs and students from Cornwall College gathered at , St Erme, Truro for a celebration of the versatility of Cornish asparagus. James Mason, Head Chef at No.1 Rock Road led the students in showcasing Tregassow’s splendid spears in delicious canapés.

The British Asparagus season is now in full swing; it started at the end of April and will run until June. Cornish chefs adore the splendid spears cultivated by elite producers of asparagus in Cornwall, John and Jennie Keeler of Tregassow Manor Farm. It is these expert growers with a farming story spanning 55 years who are behind the delicious spears chefs come to expect to create wonderful seasonal dishes on their spring menus.

The Chefs’ Forum works very closely with and is sponsored by vegetable wholesalers Total Produce throughout the South West and Wales. This top quality wholesaler is all for promoting to top Cornish chefs, the fantastic growers who supply them with finest quality local fruit and vegetables – This event was staged in collaboration with Total Produce to do just that. Top chefs demand that the finest Class 1 fine spears be delivered to their kitchens. In visiting Tregassow Manor Farm, the chefs learned that growing Cornish Asparagus is a labour of love and that each spear is harvested by hand when it reaches just the right height.

Grower John Keeler stated:

"A couple of late frosts have meant that the crop got off to a delayed start, however our not too wet, not too dry weather means that they have yielded an absolutely fantastic crop!"

Students from Cornwall College joined South West Chef of the Year winner James Mason of No1 Rock Road to create delicious canapés, celebrating the versatility of asparagus:

  • Chilled asparagus Velouté
  • Asparagus tip, Soft boiled quail egg
  • Apsaragus, Prosciutto,Truffle Mayonaise
  • Asparagus goats cheese tart
  • Asparagus and Tomato Balsamic
The college champions experiential learning, so a day on Tregassow Manor Farm learning about the provenance of Cornish asparagus was just the ticket. The students then took part in a competition to design and create an asparagus canapé of their own from the same bag of mystery ingredients. Clair Dawe-Woodings (20) impressed James Mason with her asparagus canapé. The Academy Nathan Outlaw student won a day in the kitchen with James and an 'all expenses paid trip' to Koppert Cress in Rotterdam, Holland!

The plot to plate story continued with James Mason performing a cookery demonstration to his peers of Sea Bass, Pea, Broad Bean, Asparagus and saffron which was delicious!

The day ended with the chefs being taken on a talk and tour of the farm by John Keeler where he expertly explained the growing, harvesting, classification and distribution processes that lead to Tregassow asparagus arriving in professional kitchens and farmers markets across Cornwall and beyond. The day was a great learning experience for all involved.

A recipe for Asparagus Velouteby James Mason, Head Chef at No1 Rock Road

Ingredients

- 1 tbsp of Olive Oil

- 2 Shallots, finely diced

- 3 cloves of Garlic, finely diced

- 250ml fresh Chicken Stock

- 75g washed Spinach

-2 bunches of Tregassow Farm Asparagus

- Salt and Pepper

Method

1. Cut the tips from the asparagus and chop the stalk roughly and leave separately to one side.

2. Sweat the shallots and garlic in a pan with oil until translucent. Add the chopped asparagus stalk and cook until golden brown.

3. Add chicken stock to submerge asparagus and bring to the boil until asparagus is tender.

4. Once the asparagus is tender, remove the pan from the heat and allow ingredients to cool. Once cooled, using a food processor blitz the ingredients adding spinach to finish and leave a vibrant green.

5. Pass, season and finish with asparagus tip to decorate.

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