Marie-Antoine (Antonin) Carême (1784-1833) – renowned as the ‘King of Chefs and Chef of Kings’ – was a prominent figure in the world of gastronomy during the early 19th century. His remarkable talent and contributions to the culinary arts continue to inspire chefs and food lovers to this day.
A notable chapter in his illustrious career was his work at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he left an indelible mark on the culinary landscape. It’s that legacy that the team behind local food group BITE Sussex are celebrating at a Regency Banquet fine dining wine dinner in the former royal palace on Saturday 30 September.
Chef Antonin Carême’s association with the Royal Pavilion began in 1816 when he was appointed as the personal chef to the Prince Regent – later to become King George IV – who had a deep passion for lavish and extravagant feasts.
Carême’s craft at the Royal Pavilion was nothing short of spectacular. He created sumptuous feasts that captivated the taste buds and dazzled the eyes of the royal guests. His culinary skills were characterised by his meticulous attention to detail, grandiose presentation, and innovative techniques. His creations were not merely meals; they were works of art.
This September’s participating chefs include master pâtissier Julian Plumart (The Great British Bake Off: The Professionals), award-winning gelato maestro Seb Cole of Boho Gelato, chef Simon Mckenzie and chef Sabu Joseph of Easy Tiger Indian kitchen. Each has researched late Regency cuisine to find inspiration for their dishes.
“Carême was the first celebrity chef”, said chef Simon Mckenzie who will be presenting the main course of Tornedo of dry aged beef, wild mushroom and artichoke vol au vent with braised heritage carrot and truffle jus.
“His recipes and sheer creativity still influence chefs today. A savoury vol au vent is one of the two main elements of my main course – although now a familiar pastry for canapés, it was actually Carême who formalised the recipe”.
Carême’s most famous meal was the extravagant feast he prepared for Tsar Alexander I of Russia in 1817. The menu included over 100 dishes, showcasing Carême’s culinary mastery and intricate designs. It was a grand display of opulence and creativity; truly a feast fit for a king.
Although at five courses, the Regency Banquet won’t exactly replicate the decadence of that dinner, guests will enjoy a fine dining dinner created by leading local chefs surrounded by the still jaw-dropping decoration of the Pavilion’s Banqueting Room.
Award-winning ice cream maker, Seb Cole of Boho Gelato, will be making a twist on a ‘bombe glacé’ – a frozen coffee, apricot kernel and amaretto liqueur confection that will be placed as a table centrepiece at the end of the meal for guests to share, and no doubt wonder at.
“Although it’s still possible to buy classic dessert molds that are typical of the Regency table, I’m taking the architectural style of the Royal Pavilion’s exterior as my inspiration”, said Seb.
“Expect meringue domes and minarets, and jewel-like candied fruits that I’ll be hand-making in my lab. It’s going to be a spectacular close to the evening”.
Guests will be will also be well-catered for with drinks including a Brighton G&T Spritz cocktail on arrival, and five tea-infused soft drinks to match each course created by tea blender Helen Taggart of MDTEA based in the Open Market on London Road.
A flight of five Portuguese fine wines curated by Butler’s Wine Cellar in Kemp Town village will also be on offer to diners.
“Portugal was one of Britain’s strongest trading and political partners during the Regency period”, said Henry Butler of Butler’s Wine Cellar, who is also co-hosting the event on the evening.
“As we were regularly in conflict with Europe’s biggest wine producing nations – France and Spain – it was to Portugal that merchants looked for table wines and the now famous fortified Port and Madeira wines”.
“I’m excited to be sharing some amazing wines that are personal favourites of mine, and will pair impeccably with the flavours and heritage of the dishes on the night”.
Organiser BITE Sussex has been planning the event since late last year.
“Despite having run food and drink events in the city for close to 15 years – including recently in the Sealife Aquarium and Brighton Toy and Model Museum – the logistics of catering for 100 guests in a Grade one listed building is a new challenge”, said Nick Mosley, co-director of BITE Sussex.
“Our chefs and drinks producers have all risen to that challenge with aplomb, finding technical solutions that don’t compromise on their spectacular Regency themed courses”.
“I think it’s safe to say the Regency Banquet will be the finest dining experience at the Royal Pavilion in decades, and a night that will be talked about for years to come.
During the evening, a silent auction will be hosted by BBC Sussex’s Allison Ferns in support of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust who are guardians of the Pavilion Estate.
Tickets for individuals and couples are available to buy online from www.bitesussex.com/events. For groups of four or more and corporate tables call 07539 422 103 or 01273 77 00 44.