Greig Young, of The Northgate, in Bury St Edmunds, celebrates the culinary talents of women
After International Women’s Day I was thinking about my industry and how far we still need to go in promoting equality in the kitchen, as there is still a definite imbalance. I don’t claim to have the answer, but I would like to take a minute to shine a light on one of the best chefs I have worked with. Her name is Meg.
Meg was a super woman.
Our paths crossed when I finished my training at The Airds Hotel, in Port Appin, in the West Highlands. At 80 years old she had more industry experience than I ever could. She had been working at the hotel for more than 60 years taking AA rosettes and Michelin stars in her stride, doing what she had done every day, such as butchering whole venison, preparing all the fish and making the daily bread.
I had the good fortune of spending four years working alongside Meg before she finally called it quits at 84. In that time, I learnt more than culinary college ever taught me. I still use her recipes today, such as her lemon curd, shortbread, brioche and fruitcake.
I work with two female chefs in my kitchen at The Northgate. Katie, who I trained with back in Scotland when she was 15. We have worked together on and off our whole career and she has moved to Suffolk, not once, but twice to work alongside me. I will always be grateful for her trust in me and her ability to read my handwriting (which I often find a challenge).
The second is Moraine, who at 21 has been at The Northgate longer than any other member of my team, including me. She may not have the bold front that her male counterparts present, but her constant growth, both in confidence and cooking skills, is fearless. So far, this has led her to take home the trophy for Suffolk Young Chef of the Year 2019.
Currently on our menu we have Crisp meringue filled with slow cooked rhubarb, lemon curd and topped with rhubarb sorbet. So, as part of her legacy (and I’m sure she won’t mind), I’ll leave you with Meg’s perfect lemon curd recipe.
MEG’S LEMON CURD
12 large eggs
Zest and juice of 6 lemon
Weigh all ingredients in to a large metal bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Cook slowly for around 3 hours mixing every 10 minutes. Once it’s cooked, it should be thick and glossy and smooth. Put in jars and keep refrigerated.
Crisp meringue230g egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a large metal bowl and warm over a simmering pot until the mix reaches 60-65 degrees.
Place mixture in a mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk until the mix has doubled in volume and looks shiny, thick and pipeable. Pipe large teacake shaped domes on to a flat tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 110 degrees for 1 hour, let cool and store in the freezer.
Fill the crisp meringues with Meg’s lemon curd and some seasonal fruit compote or jam and top with a big scoop of clotted cream or ice cream.
Greig Young is head chef at The Northgate, Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Call 01284 339604