Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Cheer up with chef’s pop-up Christmas dinner on water

Cheer up with chef’s pop-up Christmas dinner on water

IF you were one of the many people who visited the Lockdown Lodge pop-up restaurant and takeway on the river near Henley during August, then I have good news.

Jimmy Garcia, the chef who offered all the food, is returning — only this time he’ll be on the water.

He has teamed up with Hobbs of Henley to offer a new dining experience in the run-up to Christmas.

He will be providing a five- course dinner on board The New Orleans on four nights a week, plus Sunday lunch, between November 4 and December 20.

The experience is called “Jimmy’s Taste of Henley” and will feature local produce.

From humble beginnings, Mr Garcia has risen to the top of the pop-up hospitality trade and his interactive dining concepts are sought after.

He now runs an international catering operation with Michelin-trained kitchen staff and clients including the Henley Festival.

Up to 40 guests will be able to attend the dinners on board The New Orleans while it is docked at Hobbs of Henley and decorated with a winter theme. Cocktails will be served on the upper deck before dinner and you can guarantee there’ll be one featuring Mr Hobbs Gin.

Suzy Hobbs, business development manager, says: “We’re really excited to be working with Jimmy.

“We think this will be a lovely addition to Henley and something a bit different in these difficult times.

“We are always trying to be positive and think of new ideas.

“Everyone is feeling limited as to what they can do and very fed up with the situation, so we are trying to think of nice things for them to do. Jimmy is a fantastic chef and is going to be using local produce.

“I think it will be popular and the boat will be nicely styled with a wintry feel.”

Mr Garcia says: “I’ve worked at Henley Festival for the last five years and then we did the Lockdown Lodge to test the water and see what the appetite was like for pop-up stuff.

“We were chuffed with how well it was received and the idea is just to build on the success of that. We had a meeting on the boat and quickly understood what we could do.

“We are trying to push local produce and are excited to get stuck in.

“A lot of our industry will have struggled to find a way to make things work but people still want to eat out and have fun.

“We are working within the guidelines to make sure everybody has a safe time as well as a great time.”

Diners will be asked to provide details for the track and trace system and all staff will wear personal protective equipment.

Tables will be limited to a maximum of six and will be spaced out to comply with social distancing.

Mrs Hobbs said: “We are doing everything we possibly can to work within the guidelines.”

The suppliers for the meal include Lawlor’s the Bakers in Henley, the Marlow Cheese Company and Aldens Fish Market in Oxford.

• The Lockdown Lodge was located on the Berkshire bank of the Thames near Hambleden Lock. It was organised by student Minna Hughes, from Hambleden, and Hobbs of Henley offered an hourly river taxi service.

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