With the BITE Sussex Spring food and drink festival launching at the start of next month, Nick Mosley talks to chefs Maria Chilton and Jimmy Gray of Angelica Food about their culinary odyssey to Asia and how it’s influenced their pop-up dining event on Monday 4 April.
The past six months have been busy for Maria and Jimmy with their new private cheffing and catering business Angelica Food. Following many years heading the kitchen at the renowned Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill, the duo have taken those skills and experiences to set up their own business and have rapidly created a following in their own right.
Although they’ve already had numerous successes with private dinners, parties and weddings, the pair are keen to showcase the breadth of their culinary offering to an ever wider audience and will be hosting their first Angelica Food pop-up night at Meanwhile Café on Jubilee Street in Brighton as part of the BITE Sussex food and drink festival, inspired by a year of travels in south east Asia and Australasia.
“A couple of years back, we took time out to broaden our knowledge of both traditional and modern Asian cuisine”, said Maria. “We really wanted to get under the skin of the myriad of flavours and ingredients that are integral parts of the kitchens of Thailand and Vietnam while also seeing how chefs in Australia have created their unique twists”.
“We spent a lot of time enjoying the authenticity of street food – literally sold from tiny road-side kitchen carts by locals who cook the same dishes day in, day out – but also had the pleasure of dining at Gaggan in Bangkok, ranked number one in the Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants guide”.
For their ‘Journey through South East Asia’ pop-up event, Maria and Jimmy have created complimentary meat-based and vegetarian menus that are packed with the spices, seasonings and core ingredients that so excited them during their travels.
Diners will begin their taste journey in My Brighton hotel’s Merkaba with canapés and an Asian themed cocktail created by local craft gin maker Damian Best from Dedbest Distillery near Lewes.
“For vegetarian’s our welcome snack will be romanesco cauliflower with wild garlic mayonnaise, whilst guests opting for the regular menu will be served up monkfish cheeks”, said Jimmy. “The magic happens with the Cantonese-style ‘tang sui’ sweet marinade”.
“My favourite dish on the menu is undoubtably the spider crab curry”, added Jimmy. “I was inspired by street food vendors in the centre of Hội An in Vietnam – it was so fresh and zingy yet the crab was so sweet”.
“For our take on the dish, we’re steaming the crab over lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf before removing all the meat from the crabs and folding into a lightly curried coconut sauce. It’s really special”.
The mains are a choice of longhorn beef brisket with fermented black bean and ginger sauce or alternatively chargrilled celeriac with a similar sauce, green apple, pak choi and chilli slaw. Diners will enjoy a dessert of yuzu and miso curd tart with matcha tea and passionfruit.
“This is our first Angelica Food pop-up in Sussex”, said Maria. “We’re planning more events this year where we can share our passion for food and drink with guests that are keen to explore local produce and International flavours”.
Limited advance tickets are available for £38 from www.bitesussex.com and include welcome drink, canapés and three courses.