Wednesday 29 August 2012

Gala Dinner with Paul Hollywood

Paul Hollywood Gala Dinner
A couple of months ago I found out that Paul Hollywood was doing a gala dinner as part of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival. I'm pretty sure I nearly snatched their hands off to get tickets! The event was a five course meal with wine pairings by Gerrard Seel of Cheshire for £45 per person. It wasn't cheap, but was the opportunity to meet the man himself and eat some lovely food.
Paul Hollywood Gala Dinner

After a day walking round the food festival I had worked up quite an appetite (despite the vast amounts consumed during the day...), so I donned a pretty frock and off we trot. I went with my husband and our friends Kevin and Lucie.
We waited nervously in the foyer, well aware that Mr Hollywood was nattering to the Mayor less than two feet behind us. We were offered a 'Bolton Cocktail' on arrival, which was a mixture of blue and red spirits with lemonade. We were reassured that the blue liquid was definitely not WKD...

Paul Hollywood Gala DinnerThen I heard it. The creeping death that is the sound of the fire alarm downstairs. Boom. There it was; like a screaming banshee insisting that we go and stand in the rain. About ten minutes later we were allowed back inside, some of us looking a little more like Crystal Tips than we preferred...

We were seated on the table right next to the VIPs; the Mayor, the Leader of the Council and Paul Hollywood. By this point I was ravenous and feared that if I waited much longer that I would disgrace myself by scoffing all the artisan bread rolls...

Paul Hollywood Gala Dinner
I apologise for the shocking quality of these pictures, but we had a strange green light above our heads!Paul Hollywood Gala Dinner
The first course was a Pressed Meat Terrine (pork with chicken livers wrapped in bacon), served with artisan bread from Paul's bakery and tomato chutney. I have to say that this didn't look like a traditional terrine but was lovely. It reminded me of the pork stuffing we have at Christmas, so was an instant hit with me. The bread was soft with sunflower seeds and the chutney gave just the right amount of tang required. This was a hit with
our table.

Next came a Fillet of Red Mullet served on a puree of fennel with a fresh fennel salad. Anyone who knows me will be aware that fish is my mortal enemy. However, I endeavour to try anything put in front of me (except rabbit - that's like eating a pet). I have to say that this was a lovely meaty fish and the fennel sauce worked perfectly. I actually enjoyed this fish dish!

Paul Hollywood Gala DinnerThe main was Glazed Breast of Duck served on a potato galette with a blackberry and port wine jus. The sauce was rich and complimented the greens and potato, however the duck was a little overcooked and there was a bit too much potato in the galette. I suspect the meat may have been ready before the diners and was left somewhere a little too warm to rest. It was a real shame as had it been pink, the dish would have worked very well.

The dessert was made by students at Bolton College. They had entered a competition to make the dish, so it was designed especially for the event. It was a Choco-chino Tart served with homemade orange ice cream. By this point I was flagging a bit, but managed about half. The tart filling was light and chocolaty whilst the pastry was crisp - no soggy bottoms here! The ice cream was amazing. Really thick with a subtle hint of

Coffees were served with chocolate truffle petit fours and soon after came a selection of cheeses with biscuits. Throughout the meal the sommelier from Gerrard Seel gave us an explanation of each wine which accompanied the course along with why it worked well with that particular dish. For example, did you know that one of the most difficult food items to match to wine is the tomato? Fact.
Paul Hollywood Gala DinnerPaul Hollywood Gala Dinner
When our plates had been cleared, Paul did an after dinner speech which detailed how he had got into the baking industry and why he became involved in the Great British Bake Off. 

He started his career as a sculpter, but was soon tempted into his father's baking business with the promise of earning £500. He went from apprentice to skilled baker within a short period of time, always
feeling like he had to work doubly hard as he was the boss' son.

Within a few years he was baking at the Chester Grosvenor and then the Dorchester in London. He moved to Cyprus for six years where he learnt more about mediterranean baking and met his wife. It was during this time that he was approached by a TV producer to do a show with James Martin called Use Your Loaf. Living in Cyprus meant that Paul had never even heard of shows like Ready, Steady Cook or indeed of James Martin. Well one thing led to another, and after a successful start to his TV career and a popular book, Paul was approached to do the Great British Bake Off. The rest ladies and gentlemen, is history...
Paul Hollywood Gala Dinner


  1. What a great experience. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. That fish course was brilliant! Definitely my favourite of the evening.

  3. Lucky you meeting the silver fox x The pictures look good by the way x


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