It’s strange how a passing remark can evolve into a special event, but that’s what happened following a conversation with Russell Williams from Grim Reaper Foods about his range of chilli products.
Like many other Chilliheads I continually incorporate various chilli products in my cupboard into my everyday cooking and it was whilst remarking that I had used his then recently launched Incinerator oil and Blaze of Glory mustard to make Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes & mash potatoes as part of a chilli themed Sunday Roast, that an idea bulb appeared above Russell’s head and his creative mind got set to work.
So when some 9 months on Russell put the word out on social media that he was taking over a local restaurant for one night to hold a Chilli extravaganza using his products, well, I just had to be there…
In advance of the event, which took place on the evening of Sunday 14th April, Russell had posted the menu online a few weeks prior to the event; so I, Chris ‘The Lurch’ Saunders and around 24 other individuals, who travelled to Restaurant 65 in Hemel Hempstead, knew what delights lay in store for us.
Luckily enough I didn’t have too far to travel but such is the popularity of Russell’s products that the opportunity to attend this unique event drew chilliheads in from as far afield as Derby & Birmingham.
The evening kicked off with Prosecco cocktail containing a candied chilli: a choice of an Orange Habanero or Lemon Drop.
Within the Prosecco Russell had also added some ‘Tears of Pestilence’. Using one of the molecular gastronomy kits more akin with Heston Blumenthal’s style of cooking, Russell had created little tear shaped drops of gel containing a small amount of ‘Pestilence’ (one of his recent newly released products) which is a transparent coconut rum spiced chilli syrup.
The tears could be popped open in the mouth if you wanted a sweet chilli kick or swallowed whole for the less brave. As nice as the tears were though, for me the highlight of this course was the candied chilli.
I’ve never tasted a candied chilli before so I was looking forward to trying this element of the course and being a lover of the flavour of the Lemon drop chilli I opted for that rather than the Orange Habanero.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed as the sugared citrus flavour of the chilli finished off the cocktail with a nice chilli kick.
2nd course:- ‘Last Rites’
After the cocktail aperitif a batch of freshly baked bread, made using Russell’s Rookie Goblin sauce with Vengeance chilli oil as accompanying dip. The earthy flavours of the spinach & coriander worked really well in the bread and the addition of nutty flavour of Vengeance was a good combination.
3rd course:- ‘Potent Potion’
Russell’s Potent Potion was a shot glass of mango, lime, mint, Evil One sauce with a dash of grenadine. Here the refreshing qualities of the mango, lime and mint certainly deceptively hide the bite of the Evil One and from the reaction of several individuals in the restaurant who drank this, the chilli kick caught them by surprise.
4th course:- ‘Rest in Pieces’
Next up was a fish dish combining a fillet of Sea Bass on a bed of Scotch Bonnet Lemon risotto with coriander pesto followed, drizzled with Incinerator chilli oil. Here the rich creamy risotto suitably complimented the simplicity of the pan fried Sea Bass and the flavour of the fresh coriander pesto.
This was undoubtedly my favourite dish of the night and, as I found out at the end of the evening, that of many others too.
5th course:- ‘Hallowed be thy Pain’
This Naga based spice mix was dusted onto a corn fed chicken breast seasoned and served with stir fried vegetables & Bok Choi in Tempest chilli oil. The subtle flavour from the spice rub enhanced the flavour of the chicken breast and although the heat was less compared to the previous course, Russell advised that he had he’d purposely held back from using too much of the spice mix in the dish.
6th course:- ‘Soul Cleanser’
Cooling things off before the final dessert course, a sorbet duo of carrot & ginger and a lemon sorbet was served up next. This was very refreshing and cleansed the pallet really well, although I did wonder if the coconut flavour of ‘Pestilence’ would have made a nice little addition to the lemon sorbet for those who wanted to continue the chilli theme in each dish.
7th course:- ‘Torn between Heaven n Hell’
Russell finished off the culinary evening with a white chocolate cheesecake utilising his Purgatory chilli chocolate. Despite having more of a savoury than sweet tooth, I’m a sucker for a good cheesecake and this certainly didn’t disappoint.
This was a beautifully crafted dessert with the cheesecake held in a chocolate cage and dusted with shavings of Purgatory – a savoury / sweet combination supplemented by the warmth of the Naga powder used in Purgatory.
Overall Russell crafted not only a brilliant menu of great tasting food, but creatively integrated his range of products into a full blow seven course meal. Full compliments go to himself and Grant Young (owner & head chef at Restaurant 65 who assisted Russell on the night). Both chefs worked relentlessly hard to serve 26 covers at the same time and Gina & Sarah of Restaurant 65 also kept the front of house running smoothly too.
For those who missed out on the event Russell has advised that he will be releasing all of the recipes on his blog in the forthcoming weeks allowing everyone to try out the dishes. Even better though Russell has hinted that if he gets enough interested he may run another one of these evenings somewhere in the country, so keep your eyes peeled if you missed out on this opportunity – you may yet be in luck of having a meal cooked from the hands of the Grim Reaper himself!
And for those of you still not familiar with the Grim Reaper’s products, here’s a little advert created by Martyn Tott, a friend of the Reaper himself!