Sophie Michell Gets Festive for Winterville

sophie1webSophie Michell’s first encounter with cooking was at the tender age of 4 with her grandmother. Later, she spent six months travelling Bali and Australia as an 11-year-old with her mother before going on to run services in a Somerset gastropub.

She was just 15.

Now, with 22 years in the industry, Sophie has never looked back.

We love success stories like this, and Sophie’s passion for food and hospitality shines through in the awesome dishes and experiences she creates.

Sophie’s interests have always centred on eclectic cuisine, nutritional virtue and quality ingredients. It’s this taste for adventure that has led her to cater for some very high profile events, including time as executive chef for The Royal Polo, where the guests included Princes William and Harry.

Sophie now runs her own catering company, Sophie Michell Catering, which offers a tailored service that includes bespoke menu design and Sophie’s personal participation at events.

This year, she’ll be parking her super festive food truck at the Winterville Christmas festival in Clapham Common. Running from 23rd November to 2nd January, Winterville is billed as London’s “alternative festive experience”, and features everything from an ice rink, to street feasts, roller discos, a backyard cinema and much more.

Check out Sophie’s truck in its full Winterville regalia:

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 10.49.27

The menu looks absolutely amazing, too. To whet your appetite, here’s what you can expect to be served by Sophie’s team:

Christmas Burger (pictured)

Fried turkey breast, chestnut, sausage stuffing patty, bread sauce mayonnaise, cranberry relish and bacon

Truffle burgers

Aged beef patty, melted gruyere, crisp shallots, truffle mayo, red onion chutney

Duck fat fried potatoes

Chestnut stuffing, bread sauce mayo, cranberry chutney, pickled red onion and gravy

Cheesy balls

Deep fried cheese balls with quince & honey jelly

Chef Special

Pink peppercorn and Juniper Venison lion, caramelised shallot puree, pickled cherries and hazelnuts

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 10.51.06

The Sophie Michell Christmas Burger

One of Sophie’s biggest achievements took place in 2013, when she became the UK’s youngest female executive chef at London’s chic Belgrave Hotel; a title that was certainly deserved, after Sophie completely overhauled the food offering in the luxury boutique venue, drawing in a superb response and numerous good reviews.

Following appearances on a huge range of TV shows, from MasterChef to Loose Women, Sophie has gone on to become an ambassador for a number of global brands including Ocado, Wedgewood, Haagen-Dazs and Danone.

A published author, Sophie’s fabulous recipes can be found in several titles (she’s currently working on book eight!), and we’re delighted to say she’s shared one with London Talent, which we’d love to pass onto our readers! Say hello to Sophie’s venison with pickled cherries, shallot puree, charred radicchio and hazelnuts. Yum!

We used a mixture of charcoal and oak wood for cooking the venison, I felt the oak worked well with the environment that deer live in, for some reason it seemed fitting. It does add a different taste level to it too of course, and it works with each flavour layer in this dish.

Serves 4

  • Pink peppercorn, juniper and thyme salt (make enough for a few meals)
  • 2 tbsp. pink peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. of juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp. of thyme leaves
  • 6 tbsp. of sea salt crystals
  • Pickled cherries;
  • 500g of Dark red, plump cherries, cut in half with stones removed
  • 750ml of cider vinegar
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2-star anise
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • bay leaves
  • Caramelised shallot puree;
  • 500g banana shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 150g butter
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 100ml of double cream
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 heads radicchio
  • 100g of roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 600g of trimmed venison loin
  • 50ml veg oil mixed with 50ml of hazelnut oil
  • 1 bunch of thyme to use as a brush for oiling the meat

Firstly, make the pickled cherries. Half and de-seed them and place in a bowl. Then take a medium to large saucepan and add the vinegar, sugar, herbs and spices then bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Then take off the heat and cool completely. Finally pour over the cherries and keep in an airtight container, this can be made a few weeks before, but is equally good with just a few days to macerate.

Then make the salt by blitzing the pink peppercorns, juniper berries, thyme and sea salt crystals together until semi fine. Set aside and keep in an airtight container. You can make this ahead, but truthfully, it loses the aroma if done too far in advance.

On to the caramelised shallot puree. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and then roughly chop the shallots and add to it along with the sugar and thyme. Gently fry off for about 15/20 minutes, you want them starting to colour and completely softened. Really do not rush this point at all, it has to be full of sweetness. Then add the seasoning and the cream, cook for 5/10 more minutes, until thickened and finally check the seasoning, take off  the heat and blitz until smooth.

When you are ready to go, get the BBQ to the correct cooking/heat level. Using the thyme as a brush, dunk it in the oil mix and brush all over the venison, then sprinkle in the herb and salt mix. Lay the whole venison loin on to the BBQ and cook for about 7/9 minutes on each side. This massively depends on the width of the loin and can vary a lot, depending on the type of venison you have. You want to cook it maximum medium rare, but it’s best rare and rested for a good 10 mins after.  Then quarter the radicchio, brush with the hazelnut oil mix and grill on both sides until charred, also take a saucepan and reheat the shallot puree too. When all these components are ready to go, you can plate up.

Put a dollop of puree, then radicchio, then a good few slices of venison, top with cherries and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

To find out more about Sophie Michell Catering, please visit her website:

You can also follow Sophie on the following social networks:

Instagram: @sophiemichell

Twitter: @sophiemichell

Facebook: sophiemichellchef