A Q & A with chef Bonny Porter of Balls and Company about her global festive menu
Sometimes the most simple dish can updated with a little creativity and the right touch. Last year, chef Bonny Porter, founder Balls & Company, a meatball-centric restaurant in London, decided to create a special meatball for the holiday season made of ham and traditional stuffing and was surprised to find that it was the season’s top seller.
Inspired by her customer’s reaction to this festive take on a classic dish, Porter decided to create an entire festive menu of meatballs inspired by Christmas traditions around the globe. The menu includes meatballs and accompaniments inspired by Cape Town (a boerwors sausage ball served with a gratin), Boston (a turkey and stuffing meatball served with hasselback potatoes), and Sydney (prawn su mai with charred cabbage), where Porter is from. The menu also includes festive dessert balls made from pie to complete the holiday feel.
We spoke to chef Porter to learn more about this colourful menu and what advice she has for other chefs on how to make their festive menus more creative.
How did you conceptualise the ‘Around the World’ Christmas menu?
As an Australian, my past Christmas experiences are vastly different from that of my UK ones. Despite this, the festive spirit remains true on either side of the world. I began to think about how other countries celebrate Christmas and thought it would be fun to showcase the differences in cuisine within a common celebration.
Why was it important to create a different menu for Christmas? Did guests ask or did you want to do it?
Last Christmas we kept the menu the same, and added a festive ham & stuffing ball which flew out the door! This year will be our 3rd Christmas, as such we decided to really embrace the festivities and go all out!
How have guests reacted to the menu?
Really well! Early favourites are the Cape Town – Boerewors with Mrs M H Balls Chutney paired with a silverbeet, leek & gruyere gratin, and the Boston – turkey & stuffing balls with cranberry sauce paired with roasted hasselback potatoes & herb butter. The pumpkin pie balls with pumpkin seed brittle for dessert are very popular too!
Do you have any favourite dishes that are on the menu?
I love the company for London – crispy fried brussels sprouts with puy lentils & herbs – I can eat it all day, everyday!
How does your staff get in on the festive fun?
We close on Sundays, so this year we are having a festive staff event where we all wear crazy Christmas jumpers, drink mulled wine, eat roasted ham and decorate our beloved restaurant!
What advice would you give other chefs on how to create festive menus?
Here in the UK, Christmas tends to be a time where the menu is very heavy. Remember it is important to provide options that cater to the health conscious too!
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