For 164 years, Claridge’s hotel in London’s Mayfair has embodied English glamour. An art deco icon renown for its sybaritic accommodations and gallant service, the hotel’s busy kitchen may well be its beating heart—after all, 90,000 guests a year need to eat.
Now, Claridge’s executive chef Martyn Nail and food writer Meredith Erickson have released their co-authored Claridge’s: The Cookbook—a mint green spell book packed with Nail’s tricks of the trade. This is a tome both cheeky and serious—in numbers, it presents a world of Willy Wonka-ish scope (the hotel’s team cuts over 7,000 shortbread cookies a month, bakes 150,00 scones a year, and presents a trolley piled with any of 250 flavours of doughnut whenever the mood strikes). In execution, it shows a remarkable attention to detail—who better to take “five sandwich rules” from than an institution that has been serving afternoon tea for 150 years? (Note: two-thirds bread, one-third filling).
Claridge’s: The Cookbook is a tome both cheeky and serious packed with executive chef Martyn Nail’s tricks of the trade.
Sentences like, “at one time a gentleman’s education would not be complete until he had mastered the art of carving” and “it will take you three days to recreate this showstopper of a mousse cake”, may chill the amateur chef (even a simple-sounding Cornish crab salad will have you making spiced crumbs, brown crab emulsion, seasoned crab, the salad itself, and a garnish). But plenty of recipes, including the hotel’s most popular—lobster risotto and chicken pie—are doable, plus tricks (like making ganache a day in advance for the smoothest texture) are welcome, as are hidden secrets, like a centuries-old recipe for Christmas pudding kept in the vault until now.
The book’s forward is written by chef René Redzepi of the celebrated Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, which did a pop-up at Claridge’s during the 2012 Summer Olympics and is a fervent fan of Nail’s meticulousness and soulful approach to hospitality. For those curious to peek into one of London’s most exciting kitchens, Claridge’s: The Cookbook is a delicious read.
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