“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into in abundance, or not at all”

Michelin starred chef Herbert Berger took over the exclusive catering contract at Innholders Hall in September 2012, opening the livery hall to the public. He talks fine dining, recreating an Antoine Careme buffet and why Lollo Rosso won’t be on the menu.

I got into the event industry because I have always enjoyed events. I have overseen events for up to 3,000 people in 21 banqueting rooms at the same time and I am a firm believer that Michelin star standard food can work for events as long as the stage is set, the menus are sensibly designed and first-class ingredients are used.

I have worked here since September 2012.

I was attracted to this particular role because I had spent more than 40 years in fine dining restaurants and five-star hotels and it suits me very well at this stage in my career. Plus, I like the challenge of making Innholder’s Hall the fine dining event space in the city.

Not many people know that I was only the seventh chef to gain a Michelin star in the UK in 1979. Back then there was only a small news column written about it in the Evening Standard.

My worst experience at an event was when I led a very exclusive canapé function for 1,500 guests at the National Gallery in Washington DC, representing the Savoy Group and the UK. All the basic preparation was done off site, therefore, the day before I visited the gallery to assure myself all the necessary cooking equipment was there to service the function. The equipment was sufficient and I was told it was there for me to use the next day, however, on the day when we arrived at 4pm almost all equipment had gone. It was an absolute nightmare but we got it done. Afterwards we felt totally exhausted. When I asked them what happened they just said ‘oh sorry’ – it was another caterer who took it all away.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s to use top ingredients and keep it simple.

The best event I’ve been involved was when I was one of a few select chefs from all over Europe chosen to recreate several meals and an incredible cold buffet for the bicentenary of Antoine Careme, the cook for Prince Regent at the Pavilion in Brighton. It was a recreation of the amazing buffet work that took place then, using incredible old skills, creating almost architecture-like dishes.

If I could do it all over again I would do it all over again.

The one thing I can’t stand is inconsistency, carelessness and Lollo Rosso lettuce.

Outside of work I spend my time skiing and shooting when I can, eating out and enjoying the arts.

If money were no object I’d drink fine wine every day – not in excess of course.

The one thing I can’t do my job without is my team and good equipment.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be Adria Ferran or Heston Blumenthal for a day – just to experience a new and different mindset.

If I ruled the event industry I’d try and get all guests to inform us well in advance of their special requests, allergies which are genuine and serious and not just dislikes, and any other wishes they may have. If we know in advance it is easy, and does not affect the service but if they only tell us once they sit down it can cause chaos and spoil the delivery of a good event for all.

Original article on Event World: http://www.eventmagazine.co.uk/event-world-herbert-berger/people/article/1189567


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