Table talk: Where Tom Stiles eats..

I was looking for a way to bond with a team of Chinese partners, and Venturi's Table struck me as a perfect idea. It worked out brilliantly.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

You walk in and it's like you're on the set of a TV cooking show. It's this beautiful professional kitchen with a large work-island in the centre. The initial reaction is to be a bit intimidated - there are no chairs or tables, which gives you a sense of 'okay, this is not a traditional restaurant', and it dawns on you that you'll have to prepare your own meal. It was a bit of a risk: I don't think men in the Chinese culture do a lot of cooking. But it was worth a try, and proved a great experience.

The staff ply you with drinks and hors d'oeuvres, then put you into three groups, each preparing a different course under a professional chef. You cook, then pull up stools, sit round the island and eat the food you've made.

It was absolutely delicious. Our theme was Italian - one of the starters was pasta with a homemade ragu. I made one of the main-course dishes - rolled chicken breast stuffed with cheese and Italian herbs - and the dessert was a beautiful meringue with a fruit coulis.

They use fresh ingredients, and help you blend all the flavours, so you end up with something that tastes like a professional restaurant meal. Yet you've done 80%-90% of the work.

When you're meeting on a regular basis with someone from another culture, the small talk can run out. But we had something to talk and joke about. Food is something we all have in common.

Venturi's Table Corporate Cookery Centre

6 Morie Street, Wandsworth, London SW18 1SL 020 8875 7488

Italian menu
£135 per person
Indian/sushi menu
£160 - including canapes and champagne

Tom Stiles is Angola Block 18 co-ordinator, BP.

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