With the fantastic upsurge in quality restaurants and dedication to food over the last decade or so, you’d be forgiven for thinking that London is truly the gastronomic capital of the world.
But in one area, the UK has only just caught up. And that’s in our membership of an important culinary institution – the association of Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe or JRE.
Yes, this network, which was set up in 1974 to provide a creative nurturing association for young talent represents 350 restaurants in 16 European countries and boasts over 180 Michelin Stars. And now that it’s opening its doors to British members at last, Belle went along to the recent launch to find out more.
Nestled in the secluded basement bar of the Royal Academy of Arts, we sipped on gorgeous dry glasses of Pommery champagne before sampling a varied range of canapés, created by JRE members, including some by the three British chefs who were being welcomed into the association that night.
We kicked off with a soy and honey marinated Orkney scallop on a tiny bed of crisp sushi rice with truffle mayonnaise, created by new JRE member Barny Taylor from the Dysart, Petersham.
On paper it sounded like one hell of a mouthful and it was, in a REALLY good way. The richness of the scallop cut with the saltiness of the soy and the depth of the truffle mayonnaise was utterly delicious and delivered an umami-oid satisfaction.
Belle’s other favourite canapé was JRE stalwart Austrian Andreas Döllerer’s beautiful and unusual presentation of ‘speck popcorn’ on a whole side of speck ham.
After our champagne and canapés, we were told more about JRE and International President, 2 Michelin Starred Chef Ernesto Iaccarino took over, saying: “I am extremely happy we have the opportunity to welcome the United Kingdom and Ireland to our family. JRE is an association which supports young talent; we are one big international family of top chefs and culinary entrepreneurs. ”
He explained that membership to JRE is open to young chefs and restaurateurs up to the age of 42 and that the JRE ideology revolves around sharing talent, ideas and passion with members showing great solidarity with each other, freely exchanging their culinary knowledge and expertise.
And judging by the quality of their canapés, we can expect more great things from these JRE members!