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Dinner at home was a triumph, but Jay’s kitchen was wrecked

The place looked like a battleground, but on the other hand, the battle was wonThere’s a good reason why the cooks in a restaurant kitchen are called a brigade. It’s not just the hierarchical structure working under one commanding officer. It’s the military precision required to complete dishes of many parts prepared by different people. I do not have a brigade. I have me. That’s why, at the end of a dinner compiled from kits supplied by Elite Bistros in the English northwest, my kitchen looked like a war zone. There were sauce-slicked pans tottering over each other, sheaths of packaging lying hither and yon like the fallen, and slumped around them every tea towel and oven glove I possess.If a battle had indeed been fought, there was no doubt I had won. I had got to eat Gary Usher’s crowd-pleasing food, while sitting at my table at home in south London. Usher will want you to know that the menu was actually devised by his executive chef Richard Sharples, but Usher leads from the front so he takes the blame for the mess in my kitchen. Usher and I have spoken a number of times during the current crisis about its impact on the hospitality industry. His group of neighbourhood bistros, the likes of Sticky Walnut in Chester, Burnt Truffle on the Wirral, and Wreckfish in Liverpool, serve muscular food drawing on the French classics without being beholden to them. Continue reading…