Croquembouche served on the backs of swans


Simon was commissioned to create a fitting celebration for the reopening of the iconic Middlesbrough Town Hall – following a huge £8 million refurbishment funded by Middlesbrough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Simon’s Proposal

Communities have come together to celebrate around food for millennia. Our ‘Banquet for the 21st Century’ will look back to the honesty and opulence of historical banquets and forward to an age of thinking globally and acting locally.

Our banquet will be full of awe and wonder, surprises and discoveries. It will be boisterous and entertaining, delicious and thought provoking. It will be unforgettable.

Our banquet will be inspired by bawdy Medieval feasts; delicious, cheap and plentiful local food, torn, shared and devoured without pomp or fuss, conviviality and laughter encouraged, strong characters and raucous performance abounding.

And also by the exquisite era of chef Antonin Careme, whose nineteenth century banquets and book ‘Cooking for Kings’ propelled him to global fame. Unfamiliar foods, unorthodox cooking, tables adorned with talking points; sugar swans, molded jellies, food carvings and titillating trompe l’oeil foods will inspire our modern day take on food art.

Against these historical reference points, our banquet will look forward to the concerns of Millennials and Generation Z, to an era where access to global cultures has become so easy that the importance of re-discovering and preserving one’s own culture and heritage is heightened. And to where the pace of change and industrial development has been so great, and has brought with it such environmental destruction, that there can be no longer be a disconnect between choice, conscience and consequence.

Our menu will reflect this global outlook – a collision of iconic foods and dishes from around the world and from our region, each ingredient – whether traditional or ‘future food’ – carefully chosen with reference to its environmental impact; so seasonal and local, meat and fish in small quantities, animal welfare and fair trade prioritised.

The setting and service will subtly reframe the lavish abundant feasting of the past – both refined and unruly – and make it appropriate for an era of responsibility and resourcefulness.

Guests will be encouraged to eat slowly, to consume consciously, to laugh wantonly, to talk fervently, to celebrate enthusiastically and to waste nothing.

Papier Mache Swans by Calim Renton