Events in the art world allow us to blend luxury and creativity with a dose of playfulness, and we were thrilled to be selected as the caterer for another fabulous Summer Exhibition Preview Party. Set against the grand backdrop of the Royal Academy, invariably brimming with remarkable artworks, as well as London’s best dressed, the occasion is something our team looks forward to every year. This year’s party felt particularly jubilant after being postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, and there was a palpable sense of enthusiasm and appreciation for the occasion amongst both guests and organisers.
The vision for the menu stayed true to the Rocket ethos; it was dictated by the season and our culinary philosophy of ‘thinking global, sourcing local’. This year’s menu and décor was inspired by nature, sustainability, and highlighted the humble ingredient. Accordingly, our food stalls celebrated two ingredients that are inherently pleasing, versatile and sustainable: the mackerel and the potato – and put these wonderful ingredients centre stage.
At the Mercy of Mackerel paid homage to this indigenous fish, with dishes such as mackerel and Inverawe haddock scotch egg; “The Great British Caesar” with grilled mackerel; and escabeche mackerel with a kohlrabi and fennel slaw. Displayed at each end of the 360 stall were beds of Lindisfarne oysters on ice alongside our “oyster-less oyster” – a vegan-friendly taste of the sea.
Our second stall was inspired by Lindsey Bareham’s book, In Praise of the Potato, and it championed the much-loved tuber and all its versatility. Menu items included potato mash with Salt Marsh lamb ragu; fondant potatoes with Inverawe smoked trout rarebit; potato pancakes with quail egg and roasted mushrooms; and Jersey Royals with minted peas, broad beans and crispy Dorset onion crumb.
By 9pm the grand finale came from our friends at BRIK, who make chocolate that is inspired by surfaces and textures found in the natural world. A large display filled the museum’s vestibule and guests were invited to smash sheets of chocolate with hammers, turning dessert into an interactive experience that was perfectly suited to the occasion.
Though the months ahead are still somewhat uncertain, we can seek comfort in the ongoing traditions of this great party. Whether it’s being greeted by the buoyant sound of The New York Brass Band, or co-chair Grayson Perry’s fabulously over-the-top outfits, or the food and drink which always surprises and delights, the Summer Exhibition Preview Party has given us a glow we’ll be carrying into the coming autumn-winter party season.
Photography courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts and Benedict Johnson Photography