Interview with Chef Colin Bedford – Fearrington House Inn – Yogurt and Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta
When we worked with Chef Bedford in the kitchen, our class prepared dishes that had some ingredients that I would not have thought of putting together. “It’s all about palate. You have to have all the components in the dish: the salty, the sweet, acidity and texture. It’s not difficult to create the flavors, it’s just having the experience and knowing what to do and what NOT to do. You can be the best chef in the world and very technical, but learning to season food properly is one of the most important steps.”
“We do good food at Fearrington. It has to look good and taste good. The first bite is with your eyes, but the flavor savors the memories. The vision is gone after a few bites. There is also a method in the madness when plating food. There is something over there that is different from what is over here. Nothing is worse than having everything taste the same on your plate. It may be the same ingredient, but we treat it differently. We push the envelope.” This is why each bite in Bedford’s dishes has a different flavor that excites the appetite. It’s like a symphony of flavors that all come together; layers of flavor incorporated in one dish.
There is nothing quite like learning professional cooking techniques while working with a chef in his kitchen. For the home cook, Chef Bedford offered up this simple suggestion to assist in preparing dinners or entertaining; “Write down your thought process when preparing a meal. If it’s a 3-course meal, take twenty or thirty minutes to get it all down on paper. It’s all about logistics. You need a reference point and a timeline, a cheat sheet. It’s all about planning.” That is great advice to remember with Thanksgiving right around the corner.
Thank you so much to Executive Chef Colin Bedford for taking the time to meet with us. We had a great time learning a little bit more about his philosophy on food, techniques and cooking beyond our Culinary Class. His comment “The first bite is with your eyes, but the flavor savors the memories.” is so true. We always remember exceptional meals, like those we had while dining at Fearrington House Inn.
I highly recommend attending a Culinary Class with Chef Bedford. It offers a special opportunity to work with a very talented chef in a beautiful and tranquil environment. Besides, Chef Bedford is quite funny and has lots of great cooking tips and techniques. The British accent also adds a nice little touch to the overall experience 😉
Chef Bedford has allowed me to share another one of his recipes with my readers. His recipe for Local Corn Soup with Apple & Bacon Remoulade and Smoked Scallop is excellent, so I would suggest you take a peek at it as well.
I thought everyone would enjoy this elegant Yogurt & Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta with Summer Berry Soup, since desserts are always a hit. You should be able to find fresh berries in your grocery store, although most of you will not find local berries. This will certainly be a great addition to your dessert repertoire, especially since it can be made ahead of time.
On a final note – Iron Chef. If there was ever a perfect contestant in appearance, intensity in the kitchen, talent and overall presence, it has to be Executive Chef Colin Bedford. Don’t be surprised if you see him in competition someday. That’s my humble opinion and I’m sticking to it. 😉
* Disclosure – I attended the Culinary Retreat as a guest of The Fearrington House Inn. I have not been paid to write any of these posts. The opinions I express regarding the property and the class are my own.
Yogurt and Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta with Summer Berry Soup
This is a perfect dessert to prepare ahead for guests. The spiced Summer Berry Soup is a lovely compliment to the light texture and flavors of the Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta. * Please note that many of the ingredients in this dish are listed in milliliters or grams. You can convert them to standard U.S. measurements, however, if you have a digital scale, you can weigh them as the recipe states.
For Panna Cotta:
200 ml Greek Yogurt
300 ml Half & Half
80 g sugar
2 leaves gelatin (You can order these from Amazon.com)
2 vanilla beans
1 Tablespoon dark rum
A sprig of Lemon thyme
For Summer Berry Soup:
750 ml red wine
750 ml red port
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
10 g fresh basil
5 g fresh mint
6 g black pepper
1 vanilla bean
2 cardamon pods
8 oz raspberries
8 oz. blueberries
8 oz. strawberries
For Panna Cotta:
1. Infuse the cream by placing the vanilla bean in the cream with the sugar and bring to a boil, let sit for an hour at room temperature.
2. Place the gelatin in cold water until soft. Warm the cream and vanilla mixture, add the rum, lemon thyme and the soft gelatin. Strain mixture into an ice bath and cool down until the vanilla seeds start to float. Then pour into a single serving ramekin and chill for at least 6 to 8 hours. Overnight is better.
Executive Chef Colin Bedford
Fearrington House Inn
Pittsboro, North Carolina