Last night we attended the Experimental Food Society Banquet, which had all the makings of a very exciting Monday evening.

The Experimental Food Society is “an organisation to front the UK’s most talented and pioneering culinary creatives, featuring ground-breaking gourmet artists that will challenge your perception of food”. Wow. This promised so much. In fact, the three of us were wondering if it was going to be a little too pretentious or in fact a really wonderful evening.

Sadly it was none of the above. If this is the best of UK culinary creatives then it is a sad day in the food world.

We were greeted with lacklustre staff who seemed more keen to get the evening over and done with than embracing the glory of the event and whilst the cute menu held lots of promise (even if I am clearly getting too old to read 8 point size font in evening lighting), the execution failed miserably.

“Fit for a Queen (or King)” served in Union Jack Sugar Glasses by Fernando Laposse

The event started with a nice cocktail served in a sugar candy glass that was very cute. I think we were all glad of the opportunity to eat our glass as sustenance, since service didn’t progress any better than we first thought. Still, Fernando Laposse is clearly a clever boy and I personally really liked his handywork.

The amuse bouche was a classic Sunday Roast pig cheek dish with lovely pickled cauliflower but needed a magnifying glass to find it and we were left wondering what was experimental. In fact, we were left with that thought through most of the meal. I won’t bore you with each dish, disappoint you with a teeny weeny bowl of salad or fail to surprise with a somewhat basic main course of Lamb Masala. I could, however, scare you with thoughts of pongy chamomile perfume that was supposed to enhance an apple sorbet or the very scary green apple flavoured breathable caffeine with B vitamins that you snorted like an inhaler. All lacked a reason for being and frankly were experiments that should be banished forever.

Ice cream sculptured dish

However, special mention should go to a few people. Firstly, Mad Cap Charlie, from Lick Me I’m Delicious, who was at the Granary Square Ice Cream festival I wrote about in September. His liquid nitrogen ice cream was sculpted into ice cream pottery on a potters wheel by his accomplice. This ice cream plate held fresh strawberries and served the whole table, so you get a feel for the lack of serving, but this didn’t take away from the fact that it was clever stuff. I feel I need to add here all the cautionary tales that should accompany liquid nitrogen. The charming liver and pancreas physician who sat next to me was very clear about this frighteningly dangerous chemical. It has been recently featured in the press after a hugely sad case of a teenager who nearly died and lost her stomach by ingesting a cocktail that contained liquid nitrogen. I think this fashion is somewhat scary and will definitely give it the respect it deserves.

Other special mention goes to the entertainers. I am not sure if they are the “ground breaking gourmet artists” referred to in the intro, but they stole the show. The balloon lady had an enthusiasm and skill with balloons that really isn’t normal.

Balloon creations from Miss Ballooniverse

And last but not least is my personal highlight for the evening: The Roving Artist. Whilst this man didn’t really have anything to do with food, he was acutely talented with a pair of nail scissors and some paper. The resultant portraits were genius and should grace any party. My nose is a little big and the hair cut either looks like Elvis, or a lioness, but either way, this man was wonderful.

Sadly, I will not be attending another Experimental Food Society Spectacular. The accompanying exhibition was cancelled this year anyway. Perhaps there were not enough people interested in the idea and that is sad to me. But these guys need a stronger and more passionate frontman to really drive the group forward. Until then, it remains a fascinating conglomerate of interesting and slightly barking mad people who should really be pushing the food world forward but if this banquet was anything to go by, then there is more to be done to showcase the talent. Shame.

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