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Vanilla Catering & Events

Hampshire Food Festival begins

It’s July, the month of Hampshire Fares 10th food festival. Have a look at their website to see what foodie events you can participate in.

Here at Vanilla we are holding Delicious Desserts masterclasses where our team of professional chefs will show you how to make our bespoke desserts at home. However if you have not already booked your place I am afraid it is too late as they are all fully booked, next year remember to book early !

Make sure you pick up a copy of Hampshire Lifes July issue as there is an article about the class with a photo of some of the team. On July 25th we will be at Winchester Guildhall for the food and Produce show. It’s free admission and we will have lots of goodies for you to taste so why not come along and meet us.

This weekend saw Lucy and Chris tie the knot in Dorset, it is not often we venture outside Hampshire but they had a spectacular venue by the river. It was a great informal day and the  wedding breakfast was a barbecue so we could not have wished for better weather.

 As an aside did you know ?

 I read a very interesting article  in this  weeks caterer & hotel keeper, the trade magazine for us caterers. Its Raymond Blanc Blog, I found it so interesting I felt I had to put is an as my aside this week.

Last week, we upset a vegetarian guest, who questioned a parmesan coated canapé and got extremely irritated with the waiter who insisted that parmesan was suitable for a vegetarian. The guest grew angry (and actually left), explaining that parmesan must by law be made with animal rennet.
Le Manoir's ethics as well as our staff's knowledge were put on trial here, and I must hold my hand up - we were guilty.

It is not unusual for us to have 50 or even more guests who have some form of allergy, food intolerance or more complicated dietary requirements. Various forms of vegetarianism are the norm, and as a good restaurateur it is our duty to adapt and respond to these new needs and to our guests' rising expectations.
We are not in the habit of upsetting any of our guests at Le Manoir, let alone losing one. I contacted the guest myself, apologised for our ineptitude, and promised I would launch a full investigation.

We discovered that for years we have been giving cheese containing animal rennet to our vegetarian guests. So we set about researching cheese made with vegetarian rennet. (Rennet is an animal protein, extracted from the fourth stomach chamber, the abomasum, of young calves - hardly appropriate for our vegetarian guests.)
We wanted to find rennet-free cheeses that use alternative setting (fermenting) agents, so as to satisfy the strictest lacto-vegetarians. Most people do not know that most cheeses including parmesan, gruyère, comté, Montgomery cheddar, Stilton and the rest of the familiar names, are set with rennet.  Our research is unfinished.

Our investigation found something alarming: looking into the use of setting agents in UK cheese production, we discovered evidence of genetic engineering. Most cheeses with the reassuring label 'vegetarian cheese' are actually set using chymosin or rennin, an enzyme that can be made by using bacteria or fungi. But about 90 per cent of the chymosin used in the UK, says the Vegetarian Society, is 'made using chymosin produced in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as Escherichia coli, Kluyveromyces lactis and Aspergillus niger' - in fact, genetically engineered rennet. 

A copy of DNA from calf cells is inserted into yeast cells. "The chymosin produced by the yeast cells," says the Vegetarian Society, "is identical to the animal protein. The cheese itself is not made using a GMO but rather a product of this, ie the enzyme, which doesn't remain in the finished product." It's hard to follow this argument, but it seems to me to be saying that it is ok for vegetarians to eat processed food that requires an animal product to start the process, so long as no animal product remains behind in the processed food.

So as you can see food is not all it seems to be . Here at Vanilla we do try and source as many local ingredients and have a great relationship with our suppliers so we make the effort to find out how our products are sourced. I have just discovered a great Parmesan like cheese supplied by Bookham fine foods ( It is  featured in Delia's latest cookbook and BBC Good Food Magazine. It is made using a vegetarian rennet and matured for 14 months. Slightly sweeter than an Italian Parmesan and can be eaten as an everyday cheese, and is ideal for shaving and grating.

This weekend we are busy once again. Jim and Katherine are having their wedding reception at Rookesby Park School, Venetia and Julian at West Stoke farm, in a very rustic barn and Naomi and Paul have picked an amazing venue, a tree house in Beaulieu, check back next week as we may even remember to take a camera so I can upload some photos of this interesting venue.

Don’t forget that for every wedding we cater for, we donate 20p per head to our nominated charity Frank Water (  So the more guests you invite to your wedding the more money we donate. As a result of this we have donated approx £430 to Frank water since April. Every Pound raised for Frank Water Projects gives one person access to clean water for life, by the end of the summer this should equate to a lot of people but I will keep you informed on a monthly basis.

 Have a great  week and pop back next week to see what’s happening in the world of Vanilla.


Sally and the team



Monday 5th July 2010

Hampshire Food Festival begins  Image