Tuesday, 11 December 2018

New London Log Co website 2018

It's been a fantastic thing having this free blog on Blogger. It taught me much about the power of words, along the freedom it gave me and our team to communicate our thoughts, and ideas into the restaurant market.

Without this powerful tool we'd not exist in the way we do, and if you're at the beginning of an idea or journey i'd suggest you make use of this or other blogging platforms.

However, as things grow so does the requirements of a business, here we are now at the crossroads to a new evolution, and we've built a new website. From here on in please click the link and it'll take you through to our new site.

www.londonlogco.com



Thursday, 1 November 2018



*To read the full article click the link above in the header



So there it is, folks. After weeks and weeks of watching the contestants battle it out to be crown the king or queen of The Great British Bake Off 2018, it was talented-but-shy Rahul Mandal who finally clinched victory. 
And while there was some controversy over whether or not Rahul actually deserved to take home the crown, the more interesting debate was over the nature of the final challenges in the tent. 
One challenge saw the bakers leaving the tent (surely not!) and heading over to a live fire to cook pitta bread and prepare accompanying dips. Cue a storm in a Twittercup about whether making dips constituted 'baking'. 
Still, that controversy shouldn't engulf the really-quite-interesting challenge of cooking on a live fire. The technique, which, as Paul Hollywood noted, has "been around for thousands of years”, is a hot trend on the restaurant scene at the moment, with new eateries popping up left, right, and centre offering dishes cooked either over a live flame or, as on Bake Off, on a slate held over an open flame. 
Perhaps it's little wonder that this ancient practice is being revived. The simple yet theatrical method sits perfectly at the crossroads between various modern food trends: dining as an experience, traditional cooking, local methods, and a back-to-basics kitchen approach. 
Mark Parr, the owner of the London Log Company who supplies firewood to hundreds of kitchens across the UK, and a massive live fire enthusiast who goes by the moniker Lord Logs on social media to share his love for the art, notes that this is exactly how our caveman ancestors would have cooked: "It's the essence of what drove us to be here." 

What's the point of cooking on an live fire?

Whisky fans will already know that different kinds of wood can impart different flavour profiles into their drinks. The same goes for cooking on a live fire, which imparts a distinct taste and texture depending on the wood that's used. 
Parr gives the example of Scandinavian smoked salmon. The dish has a sweet taste that's totally different from Scottish smoked salmon, for example, because it is usually smoked with alder wood, a tree which grows near water and harbours a fungus that must produce a sugar to survive. "Wood is organic, it becomes of the soil it grows in, which gives you different notes to navigate between. Wood exists on an aromatic spectrum with dark and light woods offering totally different tastes."
And this helps to explain why cooking on a fire is suddenly so popular. Parr says that we've basically perfected the art of taste in most fields of cooking, to the extent that there's not many new discoveries left. Live fire cooking is one of the few remaining blind spots.
Neil Rankin, chief director and master chef behind Temper restaurants, whose live fire restaurant Temper City was chosen as one of The Telegraph's best new restaurants in 2017, says fire cooking allows chefs to give their dishes a much more personal touch: "Cooking over fire allows constant manipulation of the product. You can see it cooking and keep adjusting it for colour and cooking degree. The interaction is not only more interesting for the chef but also the customers who are watching you cook."


St Leonards
Cooking with a live fire is a must at St Leonards, one of the many hot new UK restaurants embracing the ancient art CREDIT: BACCHUS
While acknowledging all those brilliant reasons to jump on the live fire trend, Andrew Clarke, one of the restauranteurs behind the London live fire eatery, St Leonards, says that cooking with live fire is simply more satisfying: "I think I've got the most fun kitchen in London. We've got so much going on, no one could get bored."
"It's a very primal way of cooking as well, you know? That excites us. You're not just looking after the ingredients, you're looking after the fire; it can't go out, it needs to maintain a certain temperature; there's a lot to play with. It seems like a very simple way of doing things but it's not. You've got to be on the ball, working out where your hot spots are and where's good for slower cooking."

How to cook on an live fire

While most of us will have cooked food on the barbecue over summer, cooking over a live fire is a totally different beast.
“Wood fire is a gentler heat than charcoal, although right over a flame, there is more direct, sharper heat, and it may be higher too," explained chef Niklas Ekstedt, pioneer of the modern cooking with wood flames trend, when The Telegraph spoke to him at his restaurant Ekstedt in Stockholm
Traditionally we're used to seeing meat cooked on a live fire. Where would a hog roast be without its delicious smoky taste? Vegetables are more of a challenge, as they have a high water content – although that doesn't mean they're impossible. "Vegetables are actually better than meat and fish in my opinion," says Rankin. "Meat and fish are great if you’re skilled but sometimes its easier to just cook them in a pan or use a proper smoker.
"Vegetables take heat well. You can burn then and they don't stick or create flames as meat does with its fat."
How do you perfect the art? “Choose a dry wood, so it will burn evenly, and start frying something," he says. "Try cauliflower, haricots verts or broccoli in a little bit of fat – butter is difficult as it burns, so use animal fat or clarified butter like ghee. If it catches fire a little bit, that’s fine.”
Of course, while live fire cooking is an interesting trend, not all of us have the facilities to invest in a great big fire pit or collect special wood to burn. But fear not, Clarke has a simple method of getting the benefits of live fire cooking with nothing more than a simple barbecue:  "Wood chips are an easy way of doing it. You can soak those in water and sprinkle them over the hot coals and you'll get some of the same flavours coming off.
"You can also burn the wood. By burning the wood rather than soaking it, we get a flavour that's a lot more subtle. As soon as you put the wood chips in water, you're going to get more intense smoke and a more intense flavour."
At which point, Rankin serves a reminder that live fire cooking has its dangers. "Don't hang meat directly above the fire. It should be offset. A restaurant did that recently at a street food event and everything went up in flames. Fat is no different to oil so you need to be just as careful.
"Also don't be wasteful and burn down wood for charcoal. Buy nice clean burning charcoal and save wood for smoking in smokers that waste less fuel or for wood fired ovens."





Wednesday, 31 October 2018


BBC R4 The Food Programme
The Carnivore's guide to meat and fire



I've been a huge fan of the BBC R4 Food Programme for years and listened to it many times on i-player whilst cooking. We had a brief chat on the previous show about Barbecue a couple of years ago, but this year we're in fine company with Tim Hayward and the team

Much of this was recorded at Meatopia 2018 in London's Tobacco Dock in Wapping, E1. It's a nicely put together programme and it shows how far we've all come in the world of Live-Fire cooking

Have a listen, there's a link over on the right in the 'Press London log Co' section

Enjoy

Mark

Saturday, 3 March 2018

To the future & beyond: Live-Fire Cooking in 2018

It's often a case of what next, where's this going, what's coming up, where should we go?
It's always been like this in greater and lesser degrees, and the future though it's daunting and exciting in equal and paradoxically variable measures, is often informed by the past.

So I look forward and into to an events calendar this year that's on the "Oh good god, really?" side of daunting & exciting.  But as I'm happy to inform people, this 'Live-Fire cooking" wave we ride, one that's getting stronger and wider is part-of, not an exception to the canon of global cooking. It's much more like cooking in the way we recognise, than say when the microwave oven was introduced. That was a leap into the new, but now look around or more like listen to the "ping" in near every household.

I'm not expecting our cooking with Full-Fat Fire to be as ubiquitous, but it's spreading (see what I did there) it's becoming cultural over fad, and for that I'm grateful. But it's also practical in a greater way and by scale, I try to imagine an event like Meatopia, Wilderness and the oldest food related event, the Ludlow Food Festival without it now. It wouldn't happen or be anywhere near the same.


Some places we offer to set a fire are met with a battery of Health & Safety questions and much as I'm good with health and great with safe, I see a fair bit of primal fear in the eyes of the questioning party I'm tasked with explain our vision to. When we say fire I'm thinking a few pans and a grill area, whereas the other person may be visioning a seaside town recreation ground with 30 foot of flames licking off a pallet and old mattress bonfire, though they do visibly relax when I talk them down from their fears and assure them it'll be ok, it's food were cooking , not an incinerator or a forge we're recreating.




I put it down to experience and fire is an elemental we should treat with great respect, less it catches us out and all hell can ensue.
So I accept the spectacle of the fire is both arresting and compelling and the first thought we have is normal, in that "I don't want to burn the house down" isn't a bad response, in fact it's the response I'd suggest we heed. But, but but...once we understand the parameters and contain the dangers to a greater extent, then we can play with fire and have fun with it.

However, it's with time and experience that we learn to be relaxed within the presence of fire, it has a compelling energy. I'm trying to remember the last time I burnt myself on a fire. I've scorched myself on the oven indoors and I still have the scars from a commercial charcoal oven (yeah you Josper), but an actual fire? I can't remember, though I did loose a few hairs of my arms tending the bigger fire at Wilderness, but that's hair and it grows back.

In the bigger picture I'm wonder if all the digitised experiences we get are leaving us a little lacking, so the real fire at home, in the garden, or in a grill or fire-pit at an event is some kind of medicine for the weary spirit, or maybe is it just excitement at the thought of some controlled jeopardy, a perception of danger.

Or simply the chance that it may well burn your food when you're not paying attention, though with a little skill and some practice it can be tamed to be both delicious and mesmerising. But remember, like the sea it is to be respected, drop your guard and it may well lick you to remind you of its power.

And lastly, if you can visit Wilderness, Meatopia, River Cottage Food Fair, River Cottage Festival Ludlow Food Festival, The Good Feed in Manchester, The Good Life Experience (and I'm sure I've missed a few) then you can get to see hands on what we do, come and put an ear towards our talks and we're often to be found close to the fire, often with food to share.


See you somewhere during the coming season.

And as Buzz Lightyear says "To the future and beyond"

Mark

P.s. I've created an Instagram account FutureFireCollective for likeminded chefs, fire makers and anyone with a soul for the flames. There's no membership as such and all are welcome, please do join in and follow, but come with good spirit and share that with others.