Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
All rights reserved
Food photos are of real food with NO photoshop
The energetic and inspiring Travelling Gourmet TM visits one of Oxford University’s oldest and most famous Colleges to feast well and…
MEET the Executive Head Chef of Keble College, humble and unassuming…Chef Andrew Hillier. However, first I want to tell you about the delightful dinner I enjoyed…
Dining here is very exclusive because unless you are a VIP invited guest or you are a student here…you cannot dine here. I was privileged to be invite for a delightful dinner with wines in the amazing ambience of the Great Hall. In the past there is only one Guest Night Formal Dinner per academic term. On the hallowed walls are portraits of the many Wardens (referred to Deans in other Universities) of Keble College. I liked the portrait of distinguished Sir Christopher Ball, who was the Warden from 1979 – 1988. Keble College was established in 1870, having been built as a monument to John Keble, a stalwart of the Oxford Movement. The Great Hall can accommodate many diners and the students have all their meals like breakfast here. The great big oak tables are very impressive as is the high arched ceiling.
Before dinner commenced all the diners stood up as the Warden, Sir Jonathan Phillips, said ‘Grace” in Latin. Then it was ‘full steam ahead” and Bon appetit! White Sesame Roll and butter, red wine was poured in Arc wine glasses…Keble College’s own label from a winery in France of Merlot 2013 Vin d’Pays d’Oc. Lightly oaked, it had Chocolate and red berries on the nose and expressive fruit on the palate. It paired well with the tasty Roast Duck Breast with Red Cabbage, Potatoes au Gratin and Young Green Pea Shoots. For a nice sweet treat, White Chocolate Mousse with a tangy red Raspberry centre. Yummie!
Over Breakfast of Scrambled Egg, Sausage, Baked Beans and a very hot coffee, I chatted with Executive Head Chef Andrew Hillier in the Great Hall. Chef Andrew explained, “I have worked at the Grand Hotel in Brighton and also the Heythrop Park Resort…we try to give the students and staff good meals. We try to be authentic but an English man cooking a Chinese meal is always challenging! I like to cook Curry and have asked Indian Chefs to come and cook in my kitchen to try and get an authentic taste.”
I said, “I was at Guest Night last night and it was very grand and jolly. The Great Hall was full!”
Chef Andrew commented, “Yes, we’ve been having Guest Night only once a term, but next term, we’ll have two Guest Nights a perm. It gives the students more opportunities to try restaurant standard food. Guest Nights are always very popular and fully booked.”
I asked Chef Andrew, “Have you ever tried Gula Melaka? It’s Palm Sugar from the Coconut Palm…”
Chef Andrew replied, ‘No, I haven’t actually.” He was pleased when I gave him some Gula Melaka to try and cook with in his kitchen.
Well, I must say the students and staff of Keble College of Oxford University dine well. A far cry from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in Northumbria when, as an Unergraduate student, I had Breakfast and Dinner every day in the Freemen’s hall of Residence. I have fond memories of my favourites – Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding and super-sweet Treacle Pudding with Hot Custard…but it was never as posh as Keble College!
Without good food one cannot study and learn well! Guten Appetit! 🙂
The Great Hall