Monday 9 March 2015

L20 Hotel School and Nigel Haworth Dinner

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a very special dinner recently at the L20Hotel School* in Liverpool, where talented young students are trained under expert guidance to become chefs or for a future career in hospitality. The dinner had none other than Nigel Haworth at the helm and I was so excited to see the menu he would create after hearing so many amazing things about his food. He has held a Michelin Star since 1996 and he is co-owner of the incredible Northcote Manor where he has led the cuisine since 1984. He is a regular on the BBC Programme ‘Great British Menu’ and indeed, that was the theme of the menu for the evening.
I was warmly welcomed at the dinner by the lovely Mike Mounfield who had been kind enough to invite me to cover the event. The L20 Hotel School Restaurant itself is impressively large, with 48 covers and an elegant bar area. We were immediately served sparkling rosé and offered the menu which I could not wait to peruse. I was in raptures reading about the epic dishes on the menu and I could not wait to try the wonderful food on offer. I was impressed by the strong emphasis on British produce such as Devon Crab and Hereford Beef. The first course was to be ‘Corned’ Goosnargh Duck with Duck Ham, which sounded like a wonderful way to start off the meal. The bar area soon filled up with guests as tickets for the evening were sold out. L20 regularly host these evenings, which are overseen by renowned chefs.
Before we sat down to enjoy the meal, there was time to chat over a variety of canapés which certainly got everybody in the mood for the delights to come.
Before dinner was served,  Mike was kind enough to let me go behind the scenes with my camera. This was a great privilege as I love to see how a busy kitchen operates and soak up the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. I was lucky enough to capture some behind the scenes shots of Nigel and his team busily at work. The kitchen was alive with activity, but there was a great air of calm and efficiency. Thankfully I managed not to trip anybody up, which is my worst fear when I am photographing a busy kitchen!

 The tables were set beautifully and the ambiance in the restaurant was very convivial, with an excited buzz in the air because everybody was enjoying themselves so much and anticipating the culinary odyssey which lay ahead. We would not be disappointed, as each and every dish was stunningly executed with great finesse and attention to detail. There is always the feeling with a fine dining evening such as this, that you are about to experience something very special. I love the way that excellent food brings everybody together for a shared experience which is also unique to each guest. Indeed, although the experience of dining with a room full of people is in essence a communal one, it is also personal in that everybody takes away their own special memories from the evening. It is a delight to enjoy an evening such as this, and to see rising stars of the future taking pride in their work alongside a renowned chef.

 The elegant dining room, flanked by the well-stocked bar area. 

 L20 has such a talented body of staff and students! 

 A behind the scenes shot of the man himself at work, overseeing the excellent young chefs.

Nigel Haworth and his team address the contented diners at the end of the meal. I thought this was a really dynamic shot which represents the great energy surrounding him.

A few of the excellent wines on offer at L20 Hotel School Restaurant.

The elegant dining room.

Some of the delicious canapés on offer.

It was soon time to enjoy the meal, and the first dish came out of the kitchen looking like a work of art. As I always say with fine dining, it seems almost a shame to eat such beautifully presented dishes, but any reservations did not last for long with everybody pausing for a few moments to admire, before heartily tucking in! The flavours were wonderfully complex with the richness of the duck offset by a broad bean mousse. Many of those around our table commented that the dish was like 'summer on a plate'. This dish was served with a Pinot Blanc from the Alsace region, a genius pairing as the crisp notes of peach and pear in this wine perfectly drew out the rich flavours. 

 Corned Goosnargh Duck with Duck Ham. 

The next delight was Devon Crab, Tossed Salad, Hen's Egg and Mustard Mayonnaise. After the richness of the first dish, this offered an array of contrasting textures and flavours.  It was  wonderfully fresh and evocative of being on the beach in summer. Devon Crab is often regarded as one of the sweetest types of crab, full of meat and flavour. I always repeat this, but I marvel every time about the power of amazing food to spirit you away to a completely different time and place. This dish reminded me so much of childhood summer holidays on The Isle of Mull, when we would often eat fresh barbecued crab on the beach. Thank you for bringing back so many happy memories Nigel and team! There was something almost Mediteranean about this dish and I wish it was available on all menus in place of more traditional salads. It was served with an excellent  Château Saint-Roch Blanc from the Côtes du Rhone region. The citrus notes of this wine worked in perfect harmony with the crab.
A contented hush fell in the room when the next dish was presented to us, a delicious main course of Cannon of Hereford Beef with Smoked Marrow bone, Young Cauliflower and Red Wine Sauce. This was complimented by 'Hannibal' Bouchard Finlayson of Walker Bay, South Africa. The beef was so tender that it melted in the mouth and the addition of Marrow bone to the dish was in my view a touch of genius as the smokiness of the Marrow bone really played well against the delicate flavour of the beef. This was a very grown up dish and the red wine sauce added even more sophistication to it. The Bouchard was an excellent choice to accompany this dish, as the notes of black cherry and slight spiciness of the wine really offset the flavours,

Devon Crab, Tossed Salad, Hens Egg and Mustard Mayonnaise.

The incredible main course:
Cannon of Hereford Beef, Smoked Marrow bone, Young Cauliflower and Red Wine Sauce. 

After all of those wonderful courses, it was time to find some room for the dessert, an intriguing sounding 'Rhubarb Carpaccio with Custard Parfait and Passion Fruit Granita. This was accompanied by an excellent dessert wine, 'The Nectar', Hollick of Coonawarra, Australia which had a velvety smoothness and rich sweet flavour, which showcased the sharpness of the rhubarb perfectly.

The dessert was absolutely delightful, with the sweetness and tang of the rhubarb offset by the rich creamy custard parfait which was expertly rolled in a sweet crumb. The tiny squares of rhubarb jelly were a delightful touch, again evocative of times gone by as I do not think I have eaten jelly since I was a child. Obviously this was a far cry from the jelly and ice cream of childhood parties, but nevertheless a fun touch to an infinitely sophisticated dish!
It was a delight to enjoy such amazing food and there was still one more treat left in store, with handmade petit-fours and coffee being lavished upon us at the end of the meal. Chocolate-dipped cinder toffee and cocoa dusted truffles were set before us and the talk at the table turned to football so I kept quiet and sipped my coffee, since the beautiful game is not my area of expertise! Before long Nigel Haworth himself joined us and it was a great honour to get to have a photograph taken with him and to ask him a little bit about his amazing career. It was such a superb evening and a feast fit for Bacchus himself. To follow that with a chat with the chef himself was simply the icing on the cake (sorry, but I couldn't resist at least one food-related pun!)
 After all of that wonderful food and great company, I slipped out into the night feeling on cloud nine. It was an evening I will never forget and I would recommend that anybody who has the chance to dine at L20 Hotel School does so as soon as they can! I would like to say a big thank you to Nigel Haworth and to all at L20 for making this such a wonderful evening. Huge thanks to Mike for inviting me and to him and my other lovely dining companions David, Tom, Adam and Mark for keeping me entertained with such great conversation. It was lovely to meet Rob the General Manager and Martin the Restaurant Manager too!

Nigel Haworth and I.Thanks for posing for a picture to Nigel and to David for taking the shot. There was much hilarity when I told David to 'look through the viewfinder' of the camera. I think all the wine had gone to my head...where else would he have looked?!

I can't wait to hear all of your thoughts on this post and please let me know what you have been up to recently! 

Until next time,



I was kindly invited to this meal as a guest of L20 Hotel School, therefore the meal was complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own and honest.


  1. great post!!!
    happy monday

  2. Great pics!

  3. The food looks sooooo yummy.

  4. The food looks so good! :-)

  5. These look so delicious! You seem really excited, I can understand why! I like the behind the scene shot of the master and the one of a drink being poured. Awesome post!

  6. I would definitely love to eat here it looks absolutely incredible! food review are my absolute favourite to do especially with lovely people- the key to my heart ;) hahah xxx

    Blonde Of Carbs

  7. lucky you, the place looks amazing ^^

    1. Agree! Great impressions! Looks like it was a wonderful evening! So jeally.. Haha. :-D


  8. I love your posts, the meal looks fabulous!

  9. everything looks so yummy!

  10. So nice <3 loving every thing check out my new post here

  11. The place and the food look really great! Love the photos!

  12. The food and the presentation looks superb x

  13. That place sounds absolutely divine and the food looks even better!

  14. Look delicious!!! and really cool Blog :)
    What about following each other?
    Lovely, Sylvie from

  15. Wow it looks incredible! You made me hungry. So cool you were invited to this


  16. Lucky girl!! The food looks absolutely scrumcious!!

  17. That food looks incredible! I think it would be so much fun to go back in a kitchen at a fancy restaurant like that. Restaurant culture is fascinating!


  18. You had me at sparkling rosé! That seems like such a wonderful evening!


  19. Looks like an amazing time! :) Beautiful photos.

    Erin | Erin and Katherine Talk Beauty

  20. Great photos! That restaurant looks lovely. :-)
    April xx

  21. great pics. those food looks yummy!

  22. This sounds like such a great experience :) Lovely photos too - i'm feeling pretty hungry now!


  23. OMG it looks delicious!
    Nice post and good pics :)


  24. the place looks great and the food looks amazing
    style frontier

  25. Great post once again lovely! You have a beautifully descriptive way of describing food that always makes my mouth water! Great pictures too!

    Kay x