Paul Askew and the London Carriage Works team Talk

Winemakers' dinner with I Fabbri, Chianti Classico

by Paul Askew 25. June 2012 06:51

Last Tuesday, the 12th of June, the Winemakers’ dinner with I Fabbri, a Tuscan family owned vineyard, was held on the Fifth floor of Hope Street Hotel. The event’s guest of honour and presenter was Susanna Grassi from Azienda Agricola I Fabbri.  

The Grassi family produced wine and oil from the 1600s on the enchanted slopes of the famous hills of Lamole, in the heart of today's Chianti Classico region, just above Greve. Generation after generation of experience and work have brought the Grassi family vineyards to the heights of qualitative excellence in wine and oil production.

However, it is under Susanna’s stewardship, 11th generation, that I Fabbri’s wines have reached the very highest level in production of Chianti Classico, when she and her sister Maddalena, set about creating Agricola I Fabbri in 2000, creating a brand with a contemporary standard about the creation of quality wines made through a sustainable agriculture. The emphasis is on the most natural methods of production of high quality fruit with as little intervention as possible. They are right now under the conversion process to obtain the Biological Certification, so that they have “a real sustainable-farm activity”. 

The dinner started at 7:30 pm and lasted for 4 hours. It was composed of 9 different courses, among which there were for example a dish of duo of Wirral Tan House farm pork; slow braised cheek, loin and sage with polenta, broad beans, baby carrots and an apple and liquorice jus that was served with an I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG, I Fabbri 2008.

For the first dish of the evening was a selection of charcuterie with olives and fresh bread, a Sauvignon Colli Orientali del Friuli DOCG 2010, accompanied this dish. This was actually the only dish where the wine that was served with it was not from Susanna’s vineyard.

The starter was a warm salad of Gresingham duck with cherries, sweet red onions, peas and pancetta accompanied by the first red of the evening which was a Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG 2008.

Finally, to round off the evening on a perfect note with a lovely cheese board which included Kidderton Ash goat’s cheese, Milleens and Barkham Blue with dried fruits, nuts, honey and crostini toasts, which was complimented with a Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, I Fabbri 2007. Danny Vacca, TLCW’s head sous-chef, was the one behind the stove, cooking and managing things in the kitchen so that I was able to enjoy the show! 45 people attended this event. 

TLCW has always made sure to serve its customers great tasty, classy food from fresh ingredients and propose the great wines to match them. The selection of wine is very important to us and the winemakers’ dinners are a way to make you part of this wine tasting experience, to make you understand how we proceed to select the wines that will compliment best our dishes. On top of that, our staff makes sure to provide you with the best service possible and to be able to advise you to the best of their capabilities on the drinks and food so that your culinary experience goes well.

Wine is an Art

by Julia 29. May 2012 09:41

Written by Julia, French intern here for 3 months, who wanted to talk about ‘sommelier’ and wine, which is a big part of her country’s culture, by explaining what ‘sommelier’ is and interviewing Chef Paul Askew, about TLCW recently hosting with award winning wine suppliers Boutinot, the Introductory Sommelier Certificate Examination.

In France in the Middle Age, the term 'sommelier' described a court official, who was responsible for bringing wine from the vineyard to the court.  Nowadays, ‘sommelier’ is someone who works in restaurants as a waiter and needs to know how to match each wine on the wine menu with the various dishes the restaurant serves. Some restaurants also have the sommelier in charge of actual wine cellar stocking and replenishing. Sommeliers are in charge of the interesting wine-serving ritual, involving the showing of the cork, the pouring of the sample, and the remaining wine pouring.

In the service of wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages, the Master Sommelier Diploma is the ultimate professional credential that anyone can attain world wide. By obtaining this diploma, not only does it ensure that the person receiving it has reached the highest level of proficiency and knowledge that they can attain in their profession, it also reassures the clients to know that they are suggested and taken care of by professionals with a great culture of food and wine.

To become a Master Sommelier, four steps are required to be done.  First, you need to get the Introductory Sommelier Certificate, which is a course that is run over two days with the examinations held on the morning of the third day. Once you have passed this first step, you will know all about what makes a good wines and how they are classified. You will also have a basic understanding of other liquors and their composition, as well as showing competences in selling, matching and serving the wines with foods.

Then, you will have to take the Certified Sommelier Certificate. This next step needs to be done within the two years after you have obtained the Introductory Sommelier Certificate. This test is to evaluate your knowledge in wine and taste as well as your service skills. This examination will recognise beverage professionals whose knowledge, skills and demeanour are worthy of the title - Certified Sommelier.

The third step is a five days course, with half of it dedicated to examinations. There is no limit which you have to pass this step, as it is of a significantly higher level than the previous one and needs much thorough studies and preparation, which takes some time to do so. At the end of this step, if successful, you will receive an Advanced Sommelier Certificate. This part focuses on your oral abilities to suggest, sell, and display a sound knowledge in general about the different wines and what food or wish they would compliment best.

Finally, there is the Master Sommelier Diploma, which needs to be done in the next two years after obtaining the Advanced Sommelier Certificate. During this final examination, the participant needs to apply all the knowledge that he or she has accumulated during the previous steps and must exhibit an exemplary standard of both technical and social skills, demonstrating the courtesy and charm of a Master Sommelier. 

All in all, it takes around 5 to 10 years and more to become a Master Sommelier, but the effort and perseverance is worth it as you will be rewarded for it and recognised to be at the top of your profession. There is around only 180 Master Sommeliers in the world.

You may also hear about people called Masters of Wine. Masters of wine have the same proficiency and knowledge in wine, food and service, but they also have knowledge about assessing the quality and process of wine making as well as in soil and climate making. They are the ones who buy and identify the wines for the restaurant. There are about 260 people with the title of Master of Wine, and it takes about 10 to 15 years to become one.

Both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine are governed by the same body: the Court of Master Sommeliers.

For many years now, TLCW has been organising the Master Sommeliers events here, as we want to establish a culture of food and wine in Liverpool. The course of Master Sommeliers is a big important event, and by holding it in our restaurant, it not only spreads the name of TLCW but it also helps its reputation while bringing an international experience. Out of the 65 people who came last year, only 25 of them were English. There were people coming from all over the world, from countries such as South Africa, New Zealand, and Belgium. People like Nigel Wilkinson, Master Sommelier, have come to this event. This event puts TLCW as the ambassador of Liverpool, to show that the city has a culture of food and beverages as well. Moreover, through the Master Sommeliers’ events we have organised and the good relationship we keep with our suppliers, we have established a growing relationship that has led us to receive the Court of Master Sommeliers.

This is why TLCW takes very seriously its selection of wine by having five different suppliers because each are great in their category. It gives us a nice range of options according to the type and quality of the year’s wine. Boutinot, for example, with their great professionalism on the quality of wines, is one of our top suppliers. When we are buying wine, we first look at the quality, looking for the smell and taste that will directly speak to us.  Then we look at the compatibility, if it will go well with the dishes that are on the menu. For example, a French Burgundy wine goes well with venison, and a white wine such as a Sancerre, Domaine Michel Girard goes well with fish. Even desserts have wines that can compliment them, such as the Chardonnay, ‘Beerenauslese’ Sepp Moser that goes well with strawberries.

Finally, we look at the value for money to ensure that the quality of the wine reflects its price. We pride ourselves in using wine merchants that can provide us with the best quality of wine possible with a nice fruity flavour, compared to the supermarkets, who are not focused on quality but on mass production with wines at reasonable prices for the day to day drinkers who can’t afford great expensive wines.

To create the best food, a culture of wine and how to match each of them with different food is capital. Therefore, we need to train people so that they can provide the best service and give the best advices to the clients who want to enjoy a good meal with a drink that best compliments it. As Monsieur Bernard Vallet would say: “Without good wine, what is good food? Without good food, what is good wine?”

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First and second winners for Merseyside Young Chef of the Year

by Kate Foster 26. April 2012 07:29

Merseyside Young Chef of the Year

The London Carriage Works are celebrating after their Demi Chef de Partie Owen West became the 2012 Merseyside Young Chef of the Year. This is the fourth year in a row that a young chef from The London Carriage Works has won the Merseyside heat of the North West Young Chef of the Year Competition sponsored by Essential Cuisine.
Owen faced tough competition on the day from fellow contestants Kevin Reader from Radisson SAS Liverpool, Kate Fairbrother from The Racquet Club, 
Sam Milne from Thistle Haydock and Rikki Vidamour also from The London Carriage Works.

During the cook off at St Helen’s College on 17th April, Owen impressed the judges with his starter; 
pan fried fillet of fresh local mackerel on a fennel and orange salad, with fennel puree and a citrus dressing. When asked about his menu choice Owen said “I like to cook food that is fresh and in season, I cook the type of food that I would enjoy eating.”

For his main course Owen cooked pan
roast loin of Roe Buck venison, with spiced braised red cabbage, parsnip puree, spring baby vegetables and an orange and juniper jus. Owen completed his menu with a trio of apples, which included Brambley Apple crumble and custard tartlet, Granny Smith sorbet and crispin crisp.

Owen was “amazed” when he was announced Merseyside Young Chef of the Year. He said “I can’t wait for the final. I am going to start planning and thinking about what will be in season in June.”

The judges on the day were Chairman of Judges Brian Mellor, Managing Director of Essential Cuisine and ex Dorchester chef Nigel Crane and Ian Jaundoo from Liverpool Community College.

Owen will now go on to represent Merseyside at the North West Young Chef Competition Final on 12th June at Manchester College in Didsbury. For more information on the North West Young Chef of the Year competition visit


Two Happy Chefs!

by Kate Foster 13. September 2011 10:07


Mr Stephen Doherty and Mr Paul Askew with glasses half empty!! 

A good night had last thursday for Paul's 30 years at the Pass. 


Thank you to everyone who came to visit us at the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival at Sefton Park

by Kate Foster 13. September 2011 09:45


The LFADF was a great weekend for meeting friends and tasting some great dishes and that was just for us grabbing time to have a look at all our neighbours. 

Here is a picture of Bernadette Bennett who has been our patisserie chef for many years and is now going solo with her own company 'Tiffin to You'.  Fortunatly for us - as her cake is divine - she joins us on special occasions and lets us taste her latest confections.


A blog written by our work experience students

by Kate Foster 1. July 2011 10:19

Joanne and Ellie have just completed a week of work experience with us at hope street hotel and The London Carriage Works.  Their final task was to write a blog all about their experiences, here it is!  

Joanne and Ellie’s Blog. 

hope street hotel.  Wow.  What an amazing week.  From two young girls from The Blue Coat School to fully fledged workers!  

This week we’ve experienced the history of the magnificent hope street, down to the soul of the hotel, the housekeeping department.  First day of work, we arrived 20 minutes early to ensure we could get stuck in straight away, but ended up spending the first 30 minutes of the day sitting in the book room, due to Mary’s (creative director) late arrival.  The first day consisted of a lot of exercise walking up and down hope street, retrieving very important information from local tourist attractions.  After lunch Mary let us loose on certain hotel rooms, we were like two kids in a sweet shop.  Although we got lost multiple times we found our way around, and took our first step into the room on the first floor *GASP*.  We had never seen anything so perfect, from the crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets, the mood setting lights, to the gorgeous hair and body products in the bathroom (which are complimentaryJ).  

Throughout the remainder of the week we typed up the minutes from a meeting, which was quite a challenge due to Sue Ainger’s (executive events manager) handwriting!  We watched and learned how to strip and clean a room too perfection, and had a grand tour of the staff room, the offices and the nationally famous kitchen of The London Carriage Works.  We were introduced to the brains behind the scenes, from receptionists and housekeepers, to Chef (Paul Askew), who not only were very friendly and treated us like VIP’s but also treated us like colleagues.  Even the scent of the hotel was divine and that immediate whiff as you walk through the glass doors makes you aware that you have just entered a very special place.  

We could not have wished for a better place to do our work experience, we have both learnt and enjoyed the time we have spent at hope street hotel, and will miss it and the fantastic staff.  We will be back to visit soon and to eat more croissants! Thank you!!

The London Carriage Works rolls with Jaguar Land Rover

by Mary Colston 28. March 2011 10:02

Some pictures of a proverbial Swan - all grace and beauty up top, ugly great paddles below. Last Tuesday it was all elegance and charm in the Liverpool Cathedral and behind the scenes/screens madness, magic and genius. Paul Askew and his team pulled off a wonderful feast; including scallops, blackfaced lamb and duck egg tarts, a delicious and memorable menu for 160 with what seemed like just six gas rings and a trestle table (looks like a hug or two as well!).

The Mersey Partnership hosted a dinner to launch the 'Made in Liverpool City Region' awareness campaign, an initiative to raise the profile and celebrate the success of the Liverpool City Region's knowledge intensive businesses.

Guest of honour was Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover who are launching the Range Rover Evoque (made in Liverpool) and being launched in more than 150 countries around the world and creating over 1,500 new jobs at Halewood.

You can see the life sized pink bendy wire Evoque was perfectly placed under the Tracey Emin piece 'for You'!


Wirral Food and Drink Festival

by Kate Foster 3. September 2010 10:48

This weekend saw the fifth Wirral Food and Drink festival take place at Claremont Farm.  Part of Wirral Council’s Year of Food, this years festival boasted more than 100 producers and stalls and attracting around 30,000 visitors, the biggest and best so far.  

Exhibitors and stalls showcased the finest specialist foods from England and North Wales including crumbly cheese from Cheshire, delicious lamb from North Wales, Sarsaparilla from Lancashire, coffee from Birkenhead, homemade cakes from Burton, and locally brewed real ale.  Visitors were treated to chef demonstrations, a mini version of Wirral’s Farmer’s market, live music and cookery workshops.Our very own Paul Askew and the North West Young Chef of the Year Tom Lee demonstrated on Bank Holiday Monday. Paul cooked fillet of turbot with saffron and golden beetroot risotto, poached oysters and girolle.  Tom cooked Anglesey mussel and panchetta ravioli with leeks and micro salad.

Paul said “It was a great buzz to see all the foodies gathered together, well done Claremont Farm!” 

Ken Dodd Literary Lunch

by Kate Foster 20. May 2010 05:14

The Wirral Autistic Society is Hope Street Hotel’s nominated charity so we were delighted to help with their Ken Dodd Literary Lunch last Friday.  54 friends of the Wirral Autistic Society had a private lunch on the Fifth and a talk/joke session with the hilarious Ken Dodd.  With sides aching the group enjoyed a bespoke menu created by Paul Askew which even included a ‘jam butty’ pre dessert course in honor of Ken. The lunch along with a raffle and silent auction raised in excess of £2,500 which will all go towards the building of a respite centre at the Wirral Autistic Society in Raby Mere.   

Ken Dodd and Rick Myers (Fundraising Officer for the WAS) with the silent auction prize - a bronze bust of Ken Dodd created by Rick.


Paul Askew with Rick Myers


Ken Dodd with guests

A Winemaker's Dinner with Boutinot Wines

by Paul Askew 7. May 2010 10:52

Despite the volcanic ash cloud, our latest winemaker’s dinner was a huge success, although the odds were stacked against us... 

Firstly we had a group of 15 guests coming from Belgium who were grounded.  Then due to the no flight situation all of the American east coast lobster hadn’t made it over, so the French and Spanish had bought out all of our British stocks.  The one plus side was that Paul Boutinot, who had recently sent his regrets having been called away to his vineyards in South Africa, was able to host the dinner again.      

At the last minute the ash cloud lifted, the Belgians made it and I managed to get my hands on some delicious Cornish lobster.  Paul Boutinot did jet off to South Africa, but he left us in the delightful hands of his master sommelier Nigel Wilkinson.   

We had a picture of Nigel last time so here’s picture of the Fifth in all it’s glory! 

fifth-roundtables (* NEW *)