Steven Saunders cooks surf and turf

The celebrity chef, from The Willow Tree to Bourn, discusses lobster with his girlfriend and the latest news on his Odessa project.

When I separated from my wife last year, I was left with just a pair of shoes, jeans, and pretty much nothing else.

I went to Cambridge on a cold January morning to buy some clothes and shoes and walked into a shoe shop in the Grand Arcade and that’s where I met my girlfriend. So, in essence, the ex did me a huge favor!

My beautiful girlfriend loves fish so I thought about cooking her lobster this weekend. His first reaction was “Yuck, aren’t you cooking them alive?” “

She had never tried lobster before. I tried to explain that the process was like cooking a crab, but the more I explained, the deeper I got, and I ended up saying, OK, I’m just going to cook a steak.

My girlfriend is a bit younger than me and loves learning about food and I love teaching her some cooking skills.

As a compromise, she agreed to have me cook surf and turf for me and regular steak for her. Lobster and beef has got to be one of my best meals.

Years ago I was on this Desert Island Discs radio show and they ended up asking me, “What would be your last meal?”

I replied, “A long buffet, miles long, lobster and steak”

“Why miles long,” they asked?

“Because that way I would live longer!”

Steven Saunders and his girlfriend

Surf ‘n’ turf was introduced in 1962 at the Eye of the Needle restaurant, a revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle observation center in Seattle. Apparently it had been discovered years before, but the needle eye made it super trendy.

Personally, the juiciness of fresh lobster paired with a tender smoked steak is simply heaven on earth.

I remember my mother preparing me lobster thermidor when I was very young for my birthday. She was an excellent cook. The taste of smooth and creamy mustard sauce with sparkling cheese on meaty fresh lobster probably convinced me to become a chef!

As the lobster dinner and the non-lobster dinner were served, we discussed many things, including theodessaproject.comwhich is our project set up by me and my business partner Shaina to help Ukrainian refugees find accommodation and employment in the hospitality industry.

Our government is unwilling to support it because it is a better program than theirs and because it does not want refugees to feel pressured or committed to work. But most, if not all, of them want and need a job so they can send money home.

On the other hand, the Odessa project is the most recommended way for them to help find a job when they arrive here. When refugees ask for work, we are contacted – and most of them ask, so we are busy placing.

If anyone who reads needs staff, please contact me.

[Read more from Steven: Secrets of a perfect summer barbecue – good enough for a prince]

One of the refugees who contacted me was a princess from the Russian nobility, who has lived in Kyiv all her life and is loved by the Ukrainian people.

She is in grave danger in Kyiv and urgently needs help, like everyone else. I contacted her and many others and offered my support.

When the princess arrives here, she will help us manage our Odessa project and help me with my manifesto for Together, which is my new political party. We have a few politicians on board. For more information on how Together works or to get involved, contact me below. I would like some support.

My girlfriend was intrigued by who the princess was and where she might live.

“Here with me,” I said. “Well, not here in the same house, but in the same place.”

“Really? What if you fall in love? What are you going to cook for her? Does she like lobster?

All these questions and more.

I said, “There’s a book called The Princess and the Lobster. This is not a book with a happy ending. However, you are my happy ending, honey, so please try some lobster now!” “Okay,” she said. “I’ll… Omg…. I really like it!’

“Thank goodness. Now we can add lobster to our shopping list!”

We currently have lobster and surf and turf on our summer menu at Willow Tree, so if you don’t feel like cooking it… just email us and reserve a table! Simple.

Chef Steven’s Surf & Turf – only for princesses

For two

Ingredients

  • 250ml milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ onion, thickly sliced
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 50g of butter
  • 15g plain flour
  • 50g finely chopped shallots
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 3 teaspoons English mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cream
  • 50g Gruyère or finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small lobster (often called lobster chix) about 500g
  • 250g well-aged steak, sirloin or tenderloin

Method

Put the milk, bay leaves, onion and peppercorns in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then leave to stand for 10 minutes for the flavors to soak up.

Meanwhile, remove the meat from the cooked lobster and cut it into large pieces. Place the cleaned/washed lobster shells on a small baking sheet and fill them with the pieces of lobster meat. Preheat grill to high heat.

For the sauce, gently heat the milk. Melt 20 g of butter in another small saucepan, incorporate the flour and cook for a few seconds. Strain some hot milk through a sieve and whisk until smooth. Gradually stir in the rest of the milk, bring to a boil, then add the cream and lower the heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring. You have 200ml sauce left with the consistency of heavy cream (a béchamel) and now add the mustard and stir well. Taste and season.

Put the lobster meat back in its shell and cover with the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese, place under the broiler or in a preheated oven, bake for five to six minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Serve with the steak cooked to your liking, it won’t need any sauce, just a fresh leafy summer salad or a few new potatoes on the side. We serve it with truffle fries at the Willow Tree.


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