The Top Caterer Behind Our 2019 Spring & Summer Menu
Our Head Chef at Payne & Gunter, Danilo Barbagallo, gives a bit of insight into our Spring/Summer 2019 menu. We’ll also find out a bit more about him and what inspires his culinary creations and combinations that make us top caterers this season. Danilo embarked upon his career when he was just 15, starting out at catering school to learn the tricks of the trade. He then began working in restaurants in Rome, where he’d played hide and seek in the Colosseum as a child.
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In 1999 he came to London where he worked in Italian restaurants, before getting on board the Bateaux London. As Head Chef he prepared fresh seaworthy fare for the many guests that set sail down the Thames.
Danilo, like any committed professional, is married to the job – literally! His wife has her own catering business and from time to time they’ve joined forces sourcing produce at farmers’ markets and popping up pop up restaurants all over London.
Since June 2017 Danilo has been a highly valued member of the Payne & Gunter team heading up our event catering – from menu design to planning and delivering top draw dining for our clients and their guests. Here are his thoughts on our 2019 Spring/Summer menu and get to know more about the man himself…
Q: How would you describe the 2019 Spring/Summer menu?
DB: ‘We’re trying to achieve something a bit innovative and sustainable, recognising major dietary trends, whilst reflecting the great British seasonal ingredients. So traditional, tasty, and a tad trendy.’
Q: What goes into devising the menu, and what inspires the menu beyond it being the specific Spring and Summer seasons?
DB: ‘The menu is a guideline influenced by the broad seasons, but customisation and variation are inevitable. Seasonal produce plays a big part in influencing the ingredients and lighter, cooler, refreshing serving methods reflect the higher (hopefully) temperatures and sunnier climate.
Like a lot of people, I enjoy watching the Great British Menu, the contestants are professionals within the industry and their experimental techniques are interesting from a peer perspective.
Chef’s Table on Netflix has some really interesting profile pieces on some world-renowned chefs too, and it’s good to have global influence on local ingredients.
I do tend to do a lot of online research and Eat the Season provides great content on seasonal favourites and flavours.’
Q: Which dishes do you feel represent the quintessentially British flavours and infusions?
DB: ‘The Asparagus Spears or the Asparagus Ravioli starters feature British asparagus which is in season from the end of April until June.
The tea-infused Gressingham Duck Breast has a good old-fashioned British cuppa at its heart, combining the refreshing and traditional in this main dish.
Then for dessert, Freeze Dried Strawberries smack of British summertime and sweetness with a contemporary twist on an Eton Mess.’
Q: Do you have any personal favourites or recommendations?
DB: ‘I personally love mackerel, and the Mackerel Niciose to start is packed full of flavour and Omega .
For a main, I’d opt for the Roasted Stone Bass with Lobster Ravioli – because this dish delivers top-notch flavours and textures.
For dessert, well as an Italian I can certainly recommend the Tiramisu!!’.
Q: Have any of your own experiences influenced these dishes? If so which and why?
DB: ‘My own Italian heritage and travels have been a huge influence throughout my culinary career. There has been a growing trend in Britain toward more healthy, rather than stodgier dishes.
Global flavours and Asian dishes infuse well with British produce. I am particularly influenced by Japanese cooking having visited Japan four times.’
Q: How do you think menu creation has evolved and how have your inspirations changed over the past years? How do you take trends into consideration?
DB: ‘Menu creation is a creative process that requires careful consideration. Although techniques, flavours, and knowledge advance so do people’s palates and expectations - meeting and exceeding these is a challenge we love to rise to.
A really important trend is vegan food because there is a preference developing, spurred on by health and sustainability. Catering for all is critical though, so choice is the consistently evolving consideration.’
Q: What is important to bear in mind when creating a menu that needs to be suitable for events that range so significantly in scale?
DB: ‘Thinking about the end result - presentation and logistics. How something looks on the plate is important, because we eat with our eyes. But also keep it simple when scaling to lots of guests – there’s no need to overcomplicate things when you’ve got great ingredients and recipes.’
Q: How do you tailor a menu to the venue, occasion, and theme?
DB: ‘It really depends on the type of event and the brief. Colours and ingredients are a great way of tying menus into surroundings or concepts. It might be that the ingredients are synonymous with specific regions or that the produce is sourced in such a way that they echo the hosts’ values.’
Q: Finally, what are your personal event highlights from your time working at Payne & Gunter?
DB: ‘We cater for so many amazing events, it’s hard to choose!
The Royal Windsor Horse Show is a unique experience that feels quintessentially British, even with Royal attendees.
The BRITs are always memorable and exciting with partnerships working together to pull off something quite spectacular.
For quite a few events, especially in the Spring and Summer, we are often required to build something, kitchens for example, from scratch. We recently catered an event at Fulham’s training ground – a football field! It’s really rewarding to see an event come together from the blankest of canvasses or within the most established venues.’
Get a glimpse of our 2019 Spring/ Summer Menu
If you are interested in a copy of our 2019 Spring/Summer menu, you can download a copy of it here, and feel free to get in contact via the phone number and email below to discuss how we could create the perfect menu for your event.
Our people make London’s original caterer, Payne & Gunter, the partner to put your party on with. Click here to find out more about our team.
'We’re trying to achieve something a bit innovative and sustainable, recognising major dietary trends, whilst reflecting the great British seasonal ingredients. So traditional, tasty, and a tad trendy.’