Today's Daily Telegraph features a review of the Royal Academy of Arts' Sargent and the Sea exhibition. John Singer Sargent was an American portrait and landscape painter who, early in his career in the 19th century, devoted much of his work to maritime subjects.
The reason I mention this is because last week I was invited to a private dinner and viewing of the exhibition (which opened at the weekend). Somewhat bizarrely, the evening included the "opportunity to participate in a culinary masterclass alongside award-winning celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson".
According to the invitation:
Antony, one of only seven chefs in the world to have merited the lifelong title of Meilleur Ouvrier de Grande Bretegne (the chefs' Oscar) will guide us in creating some mouth-watering recipes, inspired by the coastal regions of France and the Mediterranean, much loved by John Sargent.
After Antony's demonstration guests were split into teams and we had to recreate his dishes or, if we were unable to do that, improvise. I was a team leader and because I hadn't been paying full attention I decided we should improvise.
It was a bit like the Generation Game but with very sharp knives. Antony, I need hardly say, was stone cold sober when he showed us what to do. The same could not be said of every guest. In fact, by the time my team began chopping everything in sight we must have been on our third or fourth glass of champagne. I felt more like Keith Floyd than AWT.
No surprise, then, when at least two people suffered cuts to their fingers. (Was that tomato purée or something else on the plate? It was very hard to tell.)
Anyway it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The exhibition wasn't bad either.
Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy. Until September 26.