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Dry Ice and Petit Fours – a culinary “masterclass” at Ye Olde Bell

I was delighted to be invited to a “culinary masterclass” recently at Ye Olde Bell in the rural village of Barnby Moor on the border of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The ‘Bell is a 59 room hotel which dates back to the 17th century. It  has a fascinating history, rising to prominence as a stopping place between Edinburgh and London for the new postal service established in 1635. It has also served as stables, a chapel and the HQ of the 1st Cavalry Division during WW2. Its a bit of a hike out from my side of the county, but I didn’t know this venue at all so my curiosity was piqued.

The hotel has been fully renovated by the current owners, Paul and Hilary Levack, combining modern and traditional features and now also has a multi-million pound Spa attached. Unfortunately, as I had an excruciatingly early morning the next day, an option to stay over and try out the spa wasn’t possible. Maybe next time.

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It is clearly a popular venue for a wedding, banquet or party, given the number of glamourous guests milling around when I went along. A fellow invitee had asked me if there was a dress code for our event, having said “no” and then pulled up to find possibly a hundred people all dressed to the nines did give me a minor sartorial panic. But clearly there was one, or more, weddings on. (I have since been told it was a school prom….)

 

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This hotel has big ambitions and it is particularly keen to up its game on the food front, hence the ‘culinary masterclass’ to give Chef Tim Stamp the chance to showcase his skills and talk to us about his vision for the Hotel’s food offer and for us to try some of the interesting flavour combinations he is experimenting with.

The Hotel aims to offer a fine dining menu in its Restaurant Bar 1650 and a more relaxed and casual offer in the St Leger Bistro-by-the-bar. The Spa also boasts another restaurant that will place an emphasis on health eating.

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Our evening started with some delicate canapés, we tasted sweet and savoury foams and then enjoyed a bit of theatre as Tim flavoured salmon, scallops and beef with aromatic dry ice adding spectacle to the food as well as subtle flavours. Tim uses a range of interesting additions to his dishes, from micro-herbs to fruit and vegetable powders, from scented “caviar” beads to textured “soils”. We finished the evening building our own petit fours, adding our own combinations of flavours and textures to the delicate sweets.

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It is clear that Tim has big plans for the food at the ‘Bell, he is keen to ensure that not only is this lovely venue known as great place to hold events but also that people will come along specifically for his food. He is clearly a talented young chef, and the ‘Bell is keen to give him a platform to showcase his talents. Well worth checking him out, I’d say.

I attended this event as a guest of the hotel. Views are my own.

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