They may be small, but creating canapés is no easy feat. What’s consumed in mere seconds takes hours or days of preparation, and consideration on every level. The complexity and creativity behind canapés is a testament to the chef’s skilful talent and ability to fuse colour, taste, and texture on the plate.
As The Independent says, “each small mouthful [of a canapé] is a chance for the chef to exhibit limitless culinary trickery”. But what’s the process behind this complex canapé creation? Here’s how the masterchefs at CHEFIN create the decadent morsels for your events.
1. Creative brainstorming
The seed for every canapé our chefs create starts with you. Your ideas, your needs, your budget, your guests. The type of celebration, the venue you’ve chosen, the theme you’ve gone for. You plant the seed, and our chefs get busy brainstorming a creative menu that’s indulgent, instagrammable, and bound to impress your guest list.
Your ideas will form the base of our chefs’ canapé recipe, merging with the culinary trickery and techniques they’ve picked up throughout their career. Each of our chefs has a different skill set, is versed in different cuisines, and brings their own set of artistry to the table.
Food doesn’t just fall onto the plate like this naturally. It takes meticulous design, consideration, and effort.
2. Sourcing fresh, gourmet ingredients
Flavour doesn’t just come from a combination of spices and seasoning. The best flavour comes from within, and our chefs go straight to the source when shopping for their canapé ingredients. The secret sauce to any mouth-watering dish is the freshness of ingredients used, and our chefs look for produce that has reached peak flavour and maturity.
Farmers’ markets, fish markets, delicatessens, bakeries… it’s funny how shopping for something so small can take hours, or days of attention.
Shopping at CHEFIN isn’t as simple as checking the list and grabbing the number of vegetables needed. It’s a laborious task of inspecting each and every item, smelling it, feeling it, and getting a good sense of ripeness before putting it in the basket. You’d better bet that inventive recipe is not going to be wasted on a less-than-incredible vegetable.
And if the grocery person doesn’t know where the fruit and veg came from? Forget it! Our chefs work hard to source the freshest ingredients, from produce to fish to meat. If they can’t trace the supply chain back to the source, it’s a no-go.
Time in the markets is not only spent on picking ingredients and assessing quality – a lot of effort also goes into cosying up to the stall owners. Build rapport with the fish market staff and you’ll be given the freshest and best salmon. Know your farmer and treat him well, and he’ll save you the ripest pick of the bunch each time.
Of course, our chefs genuinely love interacting with and getting to know their producers and farmers, but there’s a mutual benefit to it if we’re completely honest.
3. Slicing, dicing, and prepping
Canapés are complex. The number of ingredients and the amount of preparation that can go into a single bite-sized piece of art is astounding. That dollop of sauce? It could have taken hours to cook. Picture: making the broth for the sauce, chopping the ingredients, boiling it down, thickening it, refrigerating it… and then each canapé may end up with only a few drops. Extremely flavoursome drops, but still.
Every ingredient in the tiny flavour bombs that are canapés requires precise chopping, slicing, dicing and prepping. Some ingredients are roasted while others are fried. Some are steamed while others are experimented with and turned into foam. Some require freezing, others require toasting. Some are glazed, others are reduced.
Canapé creation is all about balancing the unique needs and aspects of every delicate ingredient and bringing them together seamlessly. It’s no easy feat. Next time you pop a canapé in your mouth, stop for a moment and appreciate all the effort that has gone into that end product. Relish it.
4. Plating up
Sometimes our chefs cook and prepare food on-site, and when they do, everybody loves to gather around and watch the plating up process. Why? Because plating up is a true art and an absolute joy to witness.
It’s the final coming-together of all the exquisite ingredients and elements of the canapé. Plating up is all about precision, structure, focus, and meticulous design. This is where our chefs can truly showcase their mastery in their craft, presenting their dishes with real aesthetic while also sticking to the easy-to-eat finger food rule of canapés.
Thin slices can be wrapped or overlapped to create a pattern. Moulds are used to help sauces, creams, and purees retain texture and shape. Plating up is all about creating composition, a sense of elegance and intrigue, and making your canapés extremely Instagrammable.