29 May 2012

Seared Sea bass fillets, saute new potatoes.

This week has been all about Jersey Royals. We've had them so far in potato and spring onion salad, boiled, with butter and fresh lemon, roasted with sage and olive oil and tonight I saute them with rosemary and red onion. Served alongside some fantastic seared sea bass fillets with freshly made coleslaw, balsamic cherry tomatoes and summer leaves, they completed a rapturous summer dish.

23 May 2012

BBQ Celebration in Southampton, Al and Pat Duff

The summer was late to kick off this year but it hasn't stopped me from cooking some great BBQ food! I used a coal BBQ for my latest function, bringing a delicious natural smoky flavour to the whole menu.  I catered for Al and Pat Duff and their family at their home, providing canapes, and a BBQ main course with a selection of desserts to finish.

I first met Al and Pat as guests at a previous Private Dinner Party where I served a fantastic three course menu. They were so solicitous and friendly, chatting about their upcoming daughters wedding and we arranged for myself to cater for a post  celebration on the day after. It was to be a total surprise, so we had fun coming up with the menu together without any other family members finding out.

The day went brilliantly with so much positive feedback and fantastic compliments from the food and it was great to see Al and Pat again, who were great hosts for the day. 



Crispy duck rolls, sweet chilli sauce,
x x x
Spiced Tempura King prawns, fresh sliced mango, 
x x x
Ciabatta bruschetta, goats cheese, blush tomato,

BBQ Menu:

Peppered British rump steak,
x x x
Lemon and rosemary chicken skewers,
x x x
Soy and honey chicken skewers, smoked pancetta,
x x x
Hand made British beef burgers,
x x x
Cumberland pork sausages,
x x x
Papillotte of salmon, fresh orange and spices,
x x x
Red pepper, field mushroom and cherry tomato skewers,
x x x
Roasted Cajun potato wedges, Blush tomato and cheese loaf,
Celeriac coleslaw, Avocado and mozarella salad, Tossed salad,


Chocolate orange cheesecake,
x x x
Vanilla creme brulee, honeycomb,
x x x
Tropical fruit salad, mango and strawberry maki roll.

""Thank you so much for your catering and kindness today at our family BBQ! Everyone enjoyed your food and there was no shortage of delicious treats! Thank you once again... everyone was talking about the food long after you left!! Thank you for making the family BBQ as perfect as the rest of our weekend for my sisters wedding! Thank you for providing such delicious food, and perfect service on our family BBQ... you truly made the day run smoothly, and created such incredible food! Thank you!" Anna Duff

20 May 2012

Sweet chilli sauce recipe

I really love cooking with sweet chilli sauce!!! It is so versatile, working great as a dipping sauce, BBQ marinade, a glaze for meat or fish or to bind stir fried vegetables and noodles. I have been making my own now for some time, taking the best bits from several recipes I have used over the years and making my own version which is full of fresh flavour and is really simple too! It keeps really well and I have made it several weeks in advance and kept it in the fridge in an airtight container.


1 Red Pepper,
2 Red Chilli Peppers,
2 Inches Fresh Ginger,
2-4 Cloves Fresh garlic,
1 Cup Caster sugar,
1 Cup Rice Vinegar,
Pinch of Salt.


1) Finely dice all vegetable ingredients,

2) Place the sugar, vinegar and vegetable ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil,

3) Simmer until reduced and thickened.

ChefGary's Top tips,

1) For a quicker method, roughly chop the ingredients and blend at the end of the cooking process,
2) Reduce the sauce further for a more jam like consistency,
3) Try adding some finely shredded lemon grass or a squeeze of fresh lime for additional flavour,
4) For extra heat, use more chilli or leave the seeds in,
4) Always taste as you go, adjusting the quantities to your taste.

11 May 2012

Winner of "Vegetarian Chef of The Future 2012"

Chef of the Future 2011

The Vegetarian society hosts an annual cookery contest at the Cordon Vert cookery school in Altrincham, Manchester. It is open to vegetarian and non-vegetarian professional and amateur chefs alike, the aim to create a vegetarian three course menu over three hours. Judged on taste, presentation and wow factor it is a brilliant competition set in a tough, yet altruistic and friendly atmosphere. It has most definitely been a tremendous experience for me over the last two years  finishing as a runner up in 2011 and returning to fight for the prestige title again this year in 2012. I created what I felt was a winning menu and returned with energy and enthusiasm to produce some great vegetarian cuisine. It was a great pleasure competing amongst such enthusiastic chefs and I was overwhelmed to be announced the winner this tie around. Receiving the title of vegetarian chef of the future 2012 has been the most prodigious accolade of my career, meeting some great people along the way.

Winning Menu

To Begin:

Selection of modern British Tapas

Roasted sweet potato, sesame crust, tomato and chilli sauce,
x x x
Bruschetta, black olive, blush tomato and fresh basil,
x x x
Wild mushroom and truffle  risotto ball, fried in Ciabatta crumb,


Vegetarian Tagine

Mille fuille of fire roasted peppers and spiced aubergine,
Cous cous, garlic and coriander fritter,
Sweet potato and chilli puree, toasted almonds,
Halloumi and spinach parcel,
Apricot and sweet chilli compote,

To Finish:

Trio of desserts,

Tropical fruit maki roll, mango, lychee and strawberry, lime syrup,
x x x
Cardamom and saffron brulee, vanilla tuille biscuit,
x x x
Strawberry and elderflower jelly.

Live Photo Gallery

"It was a great pleasure competing amongst such enthusiastic chefs and to win the competition. Receiving the title of vegetarian chef of the future 2012 has been the most prodigious accolade of my career"

"Congratulations for your new title Chef of the Future 2012! Your dishes were delicious, well-conceived, and presented to the highest standard" 

Alex Connell

Alex Connell, Principal Tutor, Cordon Vert, said “Congratulations to Gary Ashley, winner of Chef of the Future 2012. Gary beat off tough competition to get to the final, then on the day of the cook off he produced a magnificent three course meal. The detail and the quality of the presentation was superb. The flavours combined well and the dishes had contrast of texture. Gary demonstrated what really is possible with care, skill and attention to detail.” 

6 May 2012

Canape and drinks party, Chibolton

I catered for a drinks party  in Chibolton, near Stockbridge recently,  providing a capacious selection  of delicious canapes. I received the booking through a previous function, gaining great accolade from catering for previous guests again. The party was being held in a lovely cottage in a statuesque village, which I have passed through many times with admiration of all the resplendent cottages and houses. I was greeted very warmly by the hosts, enjoying a cup of tea and a chat whilst I prepared the canapes. I  didn't stay to serve them but took a few photos before they went out. 


Smoked duck breast, cucumber ribbons, cranberry, spring onion,
x x x
Parma ham, asparagus spears, lemon and garlic mayonnaise,
x x x
Snoked mackerel pate. horseradish, lemon, black pepper,
x x x
Salmon maki, sesame oil, wasabi, pickled ginger,
x x x
King prawns, crayfish tails, spiced guacamole,
x x x
Mozzarella, blush tomato, puff pastry, fresh basil,
x x x
Quails eggs, cucumber, celery salt, blini,
x x x
Bruschetta, Crumbed Stilton, cranberry, orange.