Local schoolboy Nico Takhar found himself feeling the heat when he took up his prize of a masterclass from head chef Michael Collins at Teddington’s award-winning Retro Bistrot restaurant this week.
“I needed first aid within the first five minutes of starting work!” says Nico, referring to a minor injury from wielding a sharp knife. “But it was brilliant to play a part in preparing dishes for paying customers – and Mikey even let me plate up!” Nico’s first job in the kitchen was making one of the Retro’s favourite deserts, a dark chocolate mousse with candied pecans.
15 year old Nico fought off many contenders, including school staff, in the recent Hinchley Wood School/Retro Bistrot Masterchef Challenge with his excellent menu of Pan Fried Venison on a bed of mash and white wine jus, followed by Apple Crumble with Crème Anglais.
Nico’s masterclass took place in the Retro kitchens on Saturday March 1st and with Saturday being one of the restaurant’s busiest days he certainly got to see the reality of a working kitchen.
Proprietor and maitre d’ of the Retro,Vincent Gerbeau says, “Having Nico in the kitchen on a busy Saturday was a real pleasure. It’s so important to help youngsters find a role in life and everyone at the Retro was pleased to have played a part in supporting Nico’s passion for cooking.”
Nico says he was first inspired to cook by his grandmother who had a particular fondness for oriental dishes. His mother is pleased to report that Nico now contributes to cooking family meals!
Vincent was judge alongside his Head Chef at the masterchef finals back in November. The Retro Bistrot is winner itself of several awards including the Good Food Guide Local Restaurant of the Year 2012. Head Chef Michael has worked with the likes of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and Vincent trained with Gary Rhodes so the standards expected in the competition were high!