The Version Interview... Aiden Byrne on Festival Number 6's Dinner at Clough's
The extensive, daily changing menu at No.6, includes everything from the finest street food, our local Welsh produce market, our famous Long Table Banquets, curated by different Michelin-starred chefs to dining a truly Welsh A La Carte restaurant experience.
Sunday’s finale is created by Festival No.6 firm favourite, food legend and resident chef, Aiden Byrne who will be returning to No.6 for his third year. Former head chef at The Grill, London Dorchester, at the age of 22 Aiden became the youngest chef ever to win a Michelin star. Previously mentored by Tom Aitkens at Pied à Terre and developing his style at Michelin-starred establishments such as The Oak Room and Orangery and The Commons Restauranthe now holds the helm at the iconic Manchester House as well as at his British grill pub, The Church Green in Lymm. His menu last year was a festival highlight and we are delighted to have him back once again.
The Version caught up with him to see what he's got planned...
You’ve got a big task on your hands cooking for so many as part of the Dinner at Clough’s Long Table Banquets. How do you feel about the challenge?
I have really enjoyed my time at Festival Number 6, The people, the atmosphere and the sheer sense of occasion compares to nothing else I have done before. With two years under my belt I know exactly what to expect so the pressure is a lot less for me.
You¹re cooking on the Sunday, are you planning on spending time enjoying the
festival beforehand and if so, what do you most look forward to about No.6?
Unfortunately I am unable to take advantage of the full atmosphere of the festival because I finish service on Saturday night at Manchester night and its then a long drive over to Portmerrion so I¹m there nice and early on the Sunday morning.
You have worked in some incredible kitchens, such as the Dorchester, Pied
a Terre, The Oak Room and Orangery and The Commons RestaurantŠ how do they
compare to cooking for so many diners at once in the Festival Number 6 marquee?
In professional kitchens we are in a luxurious position to have all the mod cons at hand, this is something that most definitely not the case in the middle of a field in a marquee. This encourages you to be more organised and try and prepare for every eventuality.
Can you tell us about the process you go through in compiling a suitable menu
for the Long Table Banquet? Tell us why you¹re excited about your menu this year?
The menu criteria is quite scary actually, the possibilities of mishaps are endless and a realistic yet exciting menu has to be delivered. We, as the caterer have to be mindful of what we can actually deliver. There is obviously the seasonality of the ingredients, all the dietary requirements, the location where the banquet is being held and most of all, does it live up to the diners expectations.
As we¹ve said, the Long Table Banquets cater for a huge number of diners at once
and I guess, anything could go wrong. Do you have a plan B should anything go
disastrously wrong with one of the dishes?
Unfortunately there is no plan B, there are no shops nearby to help you out, especially on a Sunday afternoon/evening so all the more reason to be ultra organised.
Finally, we¹ve previously seen you on Great British Menu, how does a Festival Number 6 Long Table Banquet compare to one of the grand challenges we¹ve seen
you undertake on that show?
The two are not actually that dissimilar, arriving at a strange location out of the comfort zone of your own kitchen and team, delivering a product that still needs to be representative of your own product to a waiting and expectant audience.
I'm very very excited about this years festival because as I said I feel like a well seasoned professional who¹s coming home!
Find out more about Dinner at Clough's and book your tickets via festivalnumber6.com