Zack Deakins, chef patron of award-winning Bury St Edmunds restaurant 1921, tells us why going out for a meal is about so much more than food. . . and shares a recipe for a particular favourite of his
Restaurants to me are magical places. I love them! A place to escape and unwind. A place to connect with people, family, friends, loved ones. The right restaurant can transport your mind away from the stress of day-to-day life, leaving you free to sit back, chat, relax and have at least a couple of hours of enjoyment.
I grew up in a small village outside Sudbury, well I say village, there were a few houses and a church, no pub or shop to speak of. So meals out were few and far between, but I can still remember the excitement and almost slight apprehension before a meal out. I still get those feelings to this day. I suppose this is because unlike sitting down for a meal at home, when you are out you are never 100 per cent sure what is going to happen. What am I going to have to drink? What’s going to be on the menu? What’s the waiter or waitress going to be like? Will it be tasty? So many wonderful, unanswered questions.
It is also a chance to really sit and enjoy the company of the people you are with. How many times have you had to stop a conversation so someone can “just check on the potatoes”? I can’t think of another time where you can just sit, chat and engage yourself with other people in the same way as you can in a restaurant.
And the icing on the cake. . . no washing up!
Our little girl Charlotte names all the restaurants in town by colour and she is now making demands as to which ones she wants to go to. I love that she is already getting a feeling for the magic.
At 1921, we try to give people that excitement and joy.
Obviously the food offering has a big impact on this. I realise, perhaps more now than ever,that the food we get the best feedback from are the dishes that I would choose if I were sitting down to eat. This means I now think the menu here has a real personality and a uniqueness to it – hopefully in a good way.
There are lots of lovely things on it at the moment, but quail with Suffolk chorizo and buttermilk just went on very recently so I still have that new dish excitement for it. If you haven’t tried Suffolk chorizo, I would strongly recommend it. It is made by the Suffolk Salami Company in Brundish. The pigs are reared on their family farm, where the chorizo and the salami are also handmade. The salami is also delicious but it’s the chorizo I have really fallen for. Delicious just on a piece of sourdough or, if you want to get a bit more technical, you can’t get much better than a chorizo and white bean cassoulet on a cold evening. I also absolutely adore it just diced up and thrown in scrambled eggs for breakfast.
As for the dish on our menu, the chorizo comes rendered through a pressing of the quail leg and also as a mayonnaise (see recipe). The mayonnaise for me is a real star. Give me that and a bowl of the salt and vinegar potatoes we do and I would be happy for days. I know it’s not the healthiest but it’s oh so tasty.
1921 is not just about the food though. It is our home, the place where we relax and we hope to be able to share that with our guests; to allow them to just enjoy the company of the people they are with. . . with a splattering of us thrown in the mix. For whatever amount of time people wish to spend with us, we hope that the outside world will just be a distant thought.
The aim will always be for people to leave with a full belly, a happy heart and most importantly of all, a smile on their face.
400g finely chopped Suffolk chorizo
400g Pomace oil
3 egg yolks (or 60g pasteurised egg yolk, if preferred
2tbsp good white wine vinegar (I particularly like chardonnay vinegar)
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt to taste
Sauté the chorizo in 50ml of the oil until well coloured. l Cover with the remaining oil, take off the heat and once cool put it in the fridge to infuse overnight.
Pass off the chorizo so you are left with just the oil.
In a bowl whisk the egg yolks vinegar, mustard and smoked paprika. Then, while continually whisking, slowly add the chorizo oil until you have a thick mayonnaise.
Taste and season with salt and lemon juice as desired.
Zack Deakins is chef patron of 1921 Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds.
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