Archive for July, 2017

Restaurant Review: Pompadour by Galvin, Edinburgh (July 2017)

Posted on: July 16th, 2017 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood


The Pompadour by Galvin is the fine dining restaurant of the prestigious Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh, part of the Waldorf Astoria group. On my first visit two years ago I was surprised to find that this elegantly proportioned room – rather like a Parisian salon – bore few other traces of the French rococo style prevalent in the mid-18th Century, when the eponymous mistress of Louis XV held sway at Court. Given its name, I was expecting it to resemble The Ritz or Le Meurice, with their highly ornamental yet graceful décor, furniture and fittings, enhanced by artwork with oriental and mythical themes.


Nevertheless, the restrained Belle Epoque design has a more soothing if less glamourous effect. The soft grey walls are punctuated by exquisite hand painted Chinese floral panels in egg shell colours. Above, intricate cornicing, a delicate ceiling rose and a central pink chandelier add interest. Well-spaced tables, some by the large semi-circular windows enjoying views of Edinburgh Castle, are doubly dressed in fine napery and matched with comfortable upholstered chairs.

After extensive refurbishment of the Caley, as the Caledonian is affectionately known, brothers Chris (right, below) and Jeff Galvin (left, below) added The Pompadour by Galvin (and Galvin Brasserie de Luxe in Edinburgh) to their rapidly expanding gastronomic empire in the autumn of 2012.


Since March 2017, Daniel Ashmore (below) has been head chef. His distinguished CV at Michelin starred kitchens includes three years at Fischers at Baslow Hall, two years at The Square in Mayfair, a year at Restaurant Tom Aitkens and La Trompette, and three years at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, where he rose to sous chef at restaurant Number One.

Daniel Ashmore Pompadour by Galvin Edinburgh 1 web

With a cuisine strongly rooted in the French classics, giving “quality and luxury in simplicity,” diners are treated to dishes bearing the refined elegance of the Galvin stamp. Menus change seasonally, featuring the best of British ingredients, although there are signature dishes such as crab lasagne, halibut with langoustine bisque, mussels, cockles & squid ink farfalle, and apple tarte tatin which it would be difficult to take off the menu. Ingredients harmonise well in taste, texture, temperature and colour, with accuracy in the timing of meat and fish. Presentation shows a conscious artistry with a willingness not to overcrowd the plate. My one minor criticism of the tasting menu is that full sized portions from the a la carte menu – say of cured foie gras or beef fillet – were obviously halved, being less aesthetically pleasing than a smaller portion prepared for one.

This does not apply to the Lasagne of Crab of which the chef kindly substituted a full sized portion for the advertised first course on the tasting menu. Intensely rich but light, it features silky, soft layers of pasta sandwiching a well-seasoned delicate mousse of scallops and the white meat of North Berwick crab. Dressed with a velvety beurre Nantaise, flecked with chives to add a gentle oniony lift, the unashamed creamy indulgence of this signature dish is a tour de force of creativity and imagination. A Galvin classic dish, this is not to be missed on any visit. Wine: Pinot Gris, Greywacke, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2014


Next came a duo of plump Wye Valley green asparagus spears, grilled to enhance their robust flavour and to produce an al dente texture. Accompanied by a creamy burrata Mozzarella enlivened by a topping of Kalamata olives and olive oil, this dish encapsulated the vibrant flavours and colours of early summer. Wine:The flower & the bee, Cotto de Gomariz, Ribeiro, Spain, 2015


A well seasoned slice of cured foie gras melted on the tongue like the richest butter. The bitterness of endive and the acidity of orange compote worked well in balancing the richness of this delectable piece of offal, both in texture and flavour. Classically served with toasted brioche, here was another accomplished dish that offered “quality and luxury in simplicity.” Wine: Riesling, Smaragh, Burgstall, Weingut Pichler, Austria, 2015


The fish course featured a precisely timed fillet of Loch Etive sea trout, with soft moist flesh and crisply seared skin. Light pillows of herb gnocchi, sea beet and mussels added interest, whilst the whole dish was bought together by a light,flavoursome broth. Wine: Weiber Burgunder, Trocken, Weingut, Huber, Germany, 2011


For the meat course, a fillet of Cumbrian beef precisely cooked to a medium rare, was well seasoned and rested. A square of potato mille feuille – a variant of fondant potato – artichoke barigoule and a wedge of braised white cabbage were suitable accompaniments. Shallot purée was subtly sweet and creamy but slightly at odds with a pool of piquant sauce béarnaise. Although the various components of this meat course were skilfully prepared, I feel they did not work together as a coherent whole. Although not dry, perhaps a veal based sauce rather than the béarnaise might have improved the combination and finished look of the dish. Wine: Taurasi, Vesuvo, Manuel Barbone, Campania, Italy, 2009


For a simple cheese course, a slice of truffled Brie de Meaux, in perfect condition, came with spiced grape chutney and home-made biscuits. Wine: Krohn Port Colheita, Douro, Portugal, 1998

Warm raspberry soufflé, so often a disappointment in flavour in lesser establishments, was a triumph here. Well risen, light and bursting with the sweet sharpness of the fruit’s acidity, it confirmed the superior quality of Scottish raspberries. Enhanced by a tangy, smooth yogurt sorbet, this dessert exemplified the strengths of the pastry section of the kitchen. Wine: Contero, Brachetto D’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy, 2016 


Good coffee and petit fours completed this seven course tasting menu. The enjoyment was enhanced by the front of house team providing seamless service that is professional but not haughty. They work under the watchful eye of Jon Hemy whose hosting is welcoming, warm, engaging and informative. Sommelier Damien Trinkquel, whose experience includes The Glasshouse and La Trompette, advised knowledgeably on the wine, showing a passion that comes from a successful career in the industry.

Clearly, The Pompadour by Galvin is in capable hands, both in the kitchen and front of house. In the highly competitive market of high end Edinburgh restaurants, which has blossomed in recent years, it is more than holding its own. Fine Dining Guide will visit again, following its progress with interest.

Gold Service Scholarship (2017): Part 2. Champagne Tour.

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 by Simon Carter

On Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 4.30am, an iPhone alarm was ringing somewhere near to the three counties roundabout in Camberley, in actual fact that familiar tune was unmissably right next to my ear.  I was kindly offered a lift to Reading railway station, where the 5.59am train to Paddington was waiting for me, my bag and my suit carrier. By 7.15am I had arrived at St Pancras International via a black taxi ride (must support the London Cabbie) who was in more belligerent mood than usual about the state of the world, in particular TfL and Uber.  I proceeded to get lost for half an hour as my bearings on Eurostar stretched as far back as Waterloo but not beyond, nevertheless I found Edward Griffiths and Silvano Giraldin outside Searcy’s Champagne Bar in good humour and in good time.

St Pancras

The clue to the meeting point was two fold, the word Champagne being the biggest but also that the Champagne Study Tour leader and Chairman of the Judges of The Gold Service Scholarship, Edward Griffiths is a board member of Searcy’s: Prior to being employed by Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), Edward spent 15 years from 2001 to 2016, as Deputy Master of the Royal Household, as such he was responsible for all internal operations, including all hospitality and entertaining delivery at home and for State Visits abroad. Silvano Girlaldin was to act as lead contact to our hosts – The Rapeneau family – in Champagne. Silvano is the man who launched a thousand careers in restaurant service and by 1990 Silvano had created the original blueprint for the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts for Front of House Service, he is also a driving force behind those Awards as well as a significant voice in the Gold Service Scholarship today. 

We were in good hands!

Next to arrive was Piers Zangana of Susa Comms . Piers runs the social media presence for the Gold Service Scholarship with the Instagram and Twitter accounts proving popular, informative and educational with up-to-the-minute stories of the key activities and personalities. Piers was equipped with an upscale SLR Camera plus an iPhone and also carried what I used to call a ‘meeting microphone.’  This latter apparatus, when attached to the filming technology, allowed the most effective sound input for short, sharp, social media info-bites. Piers must have taken over a thousand photos and short videos over the three days, was constantly and professionally thinking creatively while keeping all in good humour as he photo’d, videod and posted!  His contribution has undoubtedly raised the awareness through social media and assisted in the right way with the quality of the Gold Service Scholarship brand.

As Events and Administration Manager, Katie Peckham-Cooper had arranged; Stephenie Beresforde – the 2017 Scholar – and her partner Lukas Andr, Alexandra-Iulia Caciuc, Sophia Warland and Ashley Best all arrived in good time at Searcy’s for the one hour journey through the organised chaos that is known as queueing, checking-in and boarding a Eurostar. The two hour journey to Paris was smooth and uneventful, as was the walking transfer across a small part of Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de L’Est.  A brief lunch at the station, memorable mainly for leaving my only pair of glasses at the table was followed by taking the TGV to Reims which took under an hour on an impressive nothing-like-it-in-Britain ‘double-decker’ train.

Immediately upon arrival in Reims, we were greeted by Corinne Couchou-Meillot, who was to be our constant companion and impeccable host for the duration of the Study Tour.

Over the next two and a half days we were to be fed, watered, educated and entertained faultlessly by the Rapeneau family and their representation.  The Study Tour was geographically spread across the Region, taking in Reims, Epernay and then a two hours drive to Bligny on the southern border of Champagne.


From front to back left: Silvano Giraldin, Stephanie Beresforde, Alexandra Caciuc, Sophia Warland. From front to back right: Corinne Couchou-Meillot, Edward Griffiths, Piers Zangana, Ashley Best, Lukas Andr.

The sheer breadth and scope of the assets owned and managed by the Rapeneau family is most impressive. Below is a pictorial representation of the highlights of the familiy’s assets.  On the Wednesday afternoon, from a Reims base we sampled many of the Champagnes the family have developed – from the elegant, complex, stylish Champagnes – through the richer, brioche tones – to the crisper, mineral and lighter notes of Champagne.


The following morning the focus was on GH Martel in Epernay which was acquired by the Rapeneau family in 1979. From 4 July 2015, The GH Martel Cellars were classified by UNESCO as a Heritage Site, along with Veuve Clicquot, Heidseick & Taittinger.  (This award extends to the historical, well known and impressive “Crayeres,” or Chalk Cellars , under the Saint-Nicaise hill in Reims.)

The group were also kindly provided with the insight of a visit around a production factory.  This process takes bottles from the point where they enter the production centre (after second fermentation, riddling and aging but still on their lees) to leaving the factory disgorged, liqueur d’expédition added, Champagne cork applied, labelled and packaged.  A one minute summary video shows some of the process and ends with a 10 second clip of each Tour member giving their one word summary feeling of the experience. (Switch to browser mode from ‘reader’ to view on mobile device).


It is easy to see how hands-on the Rapeneau family continue to be in their Champagne business.  Christophe Rapeneau joined the family business as soon as he’d graduated in oenology from the University of Reims in 1983. He spent his first few years modernising the fermenting room and production system in order to guarantee the authenticity of his work.  Today, it is worth noting that around 51.8 % of the total production of Champagne is sold in France, 25,6 % of the total production of Champagne is sold in the rest of Europe, 22,6 % of the total production of Champagne is sold in the rest of the world.


While Jean-Francois Rapeneau is the General Manager, his son Vincent Rapeneau is responsible for sales to the domestic French market and has a management structure with a set of representatives to grow the business.  Christophe Rapeaneau has just been awarded by the IWC Sparkling Wine Maker of the Year 2017, Christophe is the CEO and his son Jean-Remy Rapeneau looks after Exports: USA is his personal responsibility, however he has managers looking after Europe and Asia Pacific.  Our host Corinne Couchou-Meillot, has been part of the Rapeneau family business since December 1998.  She has witnessed dramatic growth across all sectors of the business, and reports into Jean-Remy Rapeneau.

The original founder was Ernest Rapeneau, and today the business remains 100% in family ownership. Now with their 5th family generation in employment they have over 200 Hectares in direct ownership while sourcing and working with over 500 vine growers and families covering at least 700 Hectares. There are eight worksites (Grauves, Bouzy, Chamery, Troissy, Blesmes, Crugny , Broyes, Bligny) and they see annual production of over 8 million bottles.

On the Thursday afternoon the Group visited the resting place of Dom Pierre Perignon.


Dom Perignon was born in Sainte-Menehould, 1638.  In 1668, he was transferred to the Abbey of Hautvillers, where he was credited with the invention of sparkling champagne, at a time when the wines were predominantly non-sparkling red. He passed away in 1715 in Hautvillers, his resting place is in the local Abbey.  The buildings have recently been acquired and restored by Moet & Chandon who produce the prestigious cuvee Dom Perignon in his  honour.


Thursday evening we arrived at Château de Bligny.  An extraordinary building, lovingly restored and dating back to various centuries.  Jean-Remy Rapeneau (and his father Christophe) proved a most charming and engaging host of a memorable dinner and stay in this remarkable property. The château and its land have a great historic, architectural and wine-making heritage.

Château de Bligny is a unique champagne property. It is the only Champagne to enjoy a “Château” appellation as this requires the property to be legally both a champagne harvester and producer.  Further; the next morning we were shown the “Clos” that produces the ‘Clos du Chateau de Bligny.’

To understand a “Clos” better it is worth examining some background – there are the three traditional varietals in the making of Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; in fact there are a further older three that are recognised: Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc. A “Clos” has to be registered with the Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité (INAO). A parcel needs to be closed by a wall, hedge or fence.  Whereas most champagnes are made from multiple crus and years, a ‘Clos’ is more a “mono cru” – In context, the entire Champagne Region boasts only 31 registered ‘Clos’ covering 0.1% or 35 Ha of production.  Details of Champagne Clos du Château de Bligny – Cuvee 6 Cepages – is provided in the diagram below. The “Clos” at Château de Bligny is less than 1 Ha.


As a final general observation on the Scholarship finalists, one might imagine that a Sommelier in a top end restaurant is somewhere between a sales manager and a consultant of wine, with perhaps the emphasis on the sales?  I found that each of the finalists observed, who by definition are on the younger side of the profession (22-28), exhibited a depth of appreciation and knowledge of wine that I had not expected.  In the modern age, the enthusiasm of the high achievers clearly leads them to Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses (of various levels) as well as professional tastings and educational visits. Much as a Sous Chef in a top end dining kitchen has exprience of all the Sections and can step in to assist or inform a particular Chef de Partie, then perhaps so too may the modern restaurant manager with their Sommelier?!

The journey home was comfortable and uneventful, no doubt a group of people completely satisfied with the knowledge gained or should I say knowledge imbibed!

For further information:

See: Traditional Method of Champagne Production is succinctly explained.

See: Gold Service Scholarship Part 1: An Overview

See: Gold Service Scholarship Competition Outline

See: Gold Service Scholarship Prizes 2018

See: Champagne G.H. Martel & Co

See: Champagne Chateau de Bligny

Gold Service Scholarship (2017): Part 1. An Overview

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 by Simon Carter

Before delving into the mechanisms of the Gold Service Scholarship and indeed further into the very successful Study Tour To Champagne, it is worth pausing to consider the weight of support that is offered to young people who may realise the scope of opportunity simply by taking a look at the roster of trustees.  The level of visibility to be gained, the reputation and accompanying quality assurance are further enhanced by the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.  

GSS Trustee Board

Board of Trustees of The Gold Service Scholarship 2017


The board of trustees, (where a trustee is a term used instead of a company title, to legally describe those that are identified as responsible for making decisions that will affect the assets of a registered charity) comprises (from top left to right above) Alastair Storey, Willy Bauer and Edward Griffiths, then (middle row left to right) John Davey, Silvano Giraldin and Sara Jayne Stanes, and (bottom left to right) Thomas Kochs, Sergio Rebecchi and David Battersby.

Alastair Storey OBE formed WSH (Westbury Street Holdings) in 2000.  The company owns BaxterStorey, Portico, Caterlink, Holroyd Howe, Benugo and Searcy’s.  Mr Storey was awarded an OBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to hospitality, he has been named most influencial man in British hospitality by Caterer & Hotelkeeper (2012) and is president of the Institute of Hospitality (2016).

Willy Bauer OBE is a hospitality legend of the hotel industry, during the 1970s and 1980s Mr Bauer was credited with turning around three of London’s great hotels; The THF flagship Hyde Park Hotel (Now the Madarin Oriental), The Grosvenor before ultimately being given the epithet ‘Savior of the Savoy’ by the Financial Times. Mr Bauer was a founding visionary for the Gold Service Scholarship.

Edward Griffiths CVO, from 2001 to 2016, was Deputy Master of the Royal Household, as such he was responsible for all internal operations, including all hospitality and entertaining delivery at home and for State Visits abroad, Mr Griffiths position is as Chairman of Judges of the Gold Service Scholarship.

John Davey started his career in the 1970s polishing cutlery and cleaning glasses in the basement at Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich, a journey through Switzerland to The Lanesborough, The Square, Cecconi’s and Morton’s – The last time that I saw John working the floor, was at The Ledbury in Notting Hill.  Now with a flourishing consultancy business to go with his 35 plus years of experience, he is a judge for the Scholarship.

Silvano Giraldin joined Le Gavroche in the 1970s and invested a career of decades in delivering industry leading standards of restaurant front of house to countless top end dining customers.  He is the man who launched a thousand careers in restaurant service and in 1990, Silvano created the original blueprint for the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts for Front of House Service that was later adopted internationally.

Sara Jayne Stanes OBE is Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and plays a leading role in the associated charitable trust Adopt a School.  A chocolatier by trade, Ms Stanes has penned several best selling books on the subject and acts as a judge to the Scholarship.

Thomas Kochs is managing director of Hotel Café Royal having previously held general manager position at Claridges and Hotel Manager at The Connaught.  Mr Kochs has overseen numerous major projects including restorations, advancements in technology and the launching of Hélène Darroze Michelin two star restaurant at The Connaught.

Sergio Rebecchi (“Maestro del Lavoro”) came to London at the age of sixteen and was mentored by the great Lord Forte, before going on to manage The Grosvenor, and then later as Director of Chez Nico restaurants including the Michelin 3 Star eaterie. Mr Rebecchi is a founder member of The Gold Service Scholarship, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Chairman of the Annual Awards of Excellence, co-Chairman of Master of Culinary Arts for Front of House Service.

David Battersby OBE is secretary to the Trustees, he is also a Director of the Academy of Food and Wine Service, a Fellow of the Tourism Society, and a past Trustee of the Savoy Educational Trust. In 1999 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

The Gold Service Scholarship has produced a winning scholar since 2013. The Scholars thus far have been Rebecca Dibben (2013), James Fleming (2014), Daniele Quattromini (2015), Jennifer Santner (2016) and Stephanie Beresforde (2017). The Award is in relative infancy and will grow and develop over time to best serve the industry in the eyes of the Trustees. The process and prizes are changing and adapting, evolving in line with the success of the Award and the changing needs of the industry.


From Left to Right: Ashley Best, Stephanie Beresforde, Lukas Andr, Alexandra-Iulia Caciuc, Sophia Warland


For the Gold Service Scholarship 2017 there were around one hundred applicants that were then whittled down to a quarter final, semi final and final of eight with one eventual scholar. Their journeys’, without exception, will have added value to them personally and professionally on the growth path to success.  Applications open in September 2017 for 2018 competition.

Stephanie Beresforde, as the 2017 Gold Service Scholar (one from left above), is the recipient of a number of prizes but beyond that there are two fold advantages: First, as an ambassador for the trade with the implicit support of the Trustees: Second, as a platform for a career path fast track in the industry. Stephanie is degree educated in English having graduated from a red brick university just a few years ago. Upon first meeting, Stephanie displayed a disarming humility and modesty which combined with a clear desire to progress in her chosen career. She is taking up a new role at The Connaught and is likely to experience a blossoming future and is already showing that the ambassadorial opportunity sits well within her compass.

Ashley Best received special commendation at the 2017 Scholarship final. Ashley invested four years from the age of sixteen in the kitchen at The Ritz, moving through the sections to latterly cover the fish section as a demi-chef de partie followed finally by the bakery. It was a bold decision of Ashley’s to switch career to front of house and also a commendable show of loyalty to his employer, one which they have been pleased to reciprocate. Two years later, at twenty-two, Ashley was at the youngest age level of entry to the Scholarship and now finds himself as Trainee Food and Beverage Manager at The Ritz. There is an all-encompassing passion about Ashley, which presents an image of a genuine eagerness to please the customers. Further, his years in the kitchen are made great use of in producing the most effective service for the customer that offers the most sympathetic efficiency to the kitchen. One might imagine that his respect and humility toward the top management is a quality that will work well for him, too.

Alexandra-Iulia Caciuc has just taken a role as a Restaurant Manager at the Spring restaurant in Somerset House. A 2017 finalist, Alex showed a driven nature that included a complete focus on achieving objectives, including setting out plans for improvement and showing the initiative and determination to be a completer finisher. It was clear how she had reached the final stages and indeed exhibited the potential to go further.

Two other finalists from previous years were on the trip: Lukas Andr who is currently assistant manager at Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square and my understanding is that Lukas is also participating in the Master of the Culinary Arts for Front of House Service examinations for 2017: Sophia Warland of RAF Odiham, Hampshire who has responsibility for managing food service contracts.

It was noted from viewing the roll call of previous finalists that the Scholarship also encourages repeat entries, especially from those that show significant potential, the 2017 winner (Stephanie Beresforde) being one such example.  This alone shows that advancement is possible through determination and willingness to put yourself on-the-line under such pressure on an annual basis.

So congratulations to all those who entered!  My personal experience of the Scholarship is that the entrants cover the breadth of background and character – what they share in common is a passion, a willingness to go the extra mile to please a guest and to make a difference in their daily lives.  In terms of the Scholarship as a whole, it is warm, welcoming and inclusive – just as is hospitality – far from the stuffy, snobby or elitist perception that may have pervaded in the dim and distant past.  With these guiding lights, things are done traditionally, but done in the modern way! 

Do apply.

Should you be of the qualifying age (22 to 28) and are serious about a career in service and hospitality then you would need to seek reference support / sponsorship from your manager to enter an application.   The outline of the process involved can be found here:-

Gold Service Scholarship Competition Outline

The current plan of the prizes for the Gold Service Scholarship 2018 have been announced in July 2017 and can be found here:-

Gold Service Scholarship Prizes 2018