In the year of the pandemic, a lot of restaurants and delivery services have taken advantage of the ‘Make It Yourself’ at home cooking trend.
While restaurants were closed and favourite dishes were missed, many of us became culinary wonders in our own homes due to the wonderful DIY packages that were delivered to our front doors.
The latest in a long list of at-home meal boxes is Banquist, a brand focussed on providing the world’s most entertaining cooking classes, that doesn’t just involve heating up Michelin standard food, but actually cooking it from scratch. With their slogan ‘Can't book? Then cook?’, Banquist has targeted the section of the market who are desperate to go out to a Michelin-starred restaurant, but who simply have not booked a spot early enough in advance.
Banquist provides ingredients and recipes in boxes curated by some of the world’s most famous Michelin star chefs. The Sybarite was sent this month’s box, curated by Theo Randall, to review and it was filled with some of his most iconic Italian dishes… that we cooked from scratch! Our Editor received the box while she was in quarantine after arriving to the UK, and it was the perfect activity for a cosy weekend at home.. keep reading for our full review.
On the menu:
Starter - Tagliatelle with fresh pesto, zucchini and parmesan cheese
Main- Tagliata with borlotti beans, roasted tomatoes, rocket and salsa verde
Dessert - Amalfi lemon tart, with a mascarpone creme
The Banquist box is normally suitable for 2 people but as I was on my own, I kept the leftovers and they were delicious for days after!
Banquist boxes are sent out on a Friday, ready for you to create some magic in the kitchen at the weekend. Unfortunately my box arrived a day late, so a Friday night cooking session was not on the cards, but all the ingredients were still fresh. The main box contains cooling elements and is especially lined to keep all ingredients fresh. Each course of your meal is put in separate, small (eco-friendly) boxes with clear stickers on each box for each course. Together with all the boxes you get cards with all your ingredients and the cooking instructions, which have also previously been sent via email. A QR code on the menu leads to a video by Theo Randall, showing you exactly how to cook each course.. Let the feast begin!
I opened all the boxes before I began cooking and was pleasantly surprised by the amount and quality of the ingredients. Everything was incredibly fresh - from a beautiful piece of steak, to the fresh basil, to an array of beautiful vegetables, to a pot of mascarpone for the dessert - no ingredients were damaged or wilting in any way. And they do not scrimp on amounts - for the starter I got a full packet of basil, half a bottle of olive oil, a full courgette and a full bag of pine nuts. The steak for the main course and the tart for dessert would have been enough for three people.. Beautiful ingredients for a beautiful meal.
In the email I was sent beforehand, it was clear that the cooking process would take a few hours and I was alerted to a couple of things I would need myself to cook all the courses - I was very impressed by how clear the instructions both in the box and via email were.
The instructions began with the prep stage, to rest the beef for the main and make the pesto for the starters. As I did not have a food processor nor a pestle and mortar, I chopped the basil and pine nuts by hand, which actually worked out just fine.
Once the pesto has been made, the starter is actually an easy one. The pasta was so fresh, it only needed a couple of minutes in boiling water. I will be honest and say I was not watching the video for most of my cooking process, but when chopping the courgette I did just check in with Theo on how exactly this was meant to look (the instructions were a little confusing). And I highly recommend you put the video on as it is actually such an interactive fun part of the cooking process. Once the courgettes were boiled and fried, and the pasta was ready, I mixed all the ingredients and voila!
This is probably the most complicated part of the whole process - but frying the sirloin steak is really as complicated as it gets. I personally enjoy cooking - and I do think that Banquist is made for those of us who enjoy cooking - and the main dish has quite a couple of components to it that you have to cook at the same time. Yet again, nothing was rocket science, and there was something really satisfying about serving this up, albeit it just for myself! The salsa verde was pre-made, which I was initially disappointed with, but actually turned out to be quite handy as the rest of the dish took quite some time to make.
I ended up making the dessert the next day, as all the ingredients lasted all weekend so you can really make any dish, any day. This dish was very easy to make, as you are provided with the lemon curd and the tart base. I can imagine that if you cook everything on the same day, it is extremely satisfying to make a delicious dessert with not too much effort.
I was actually impressed with the result more than I thought I would be, not only because it ended up looking quite similar to what Theo was making, but also because it genuinely tasted delicious. The pasta was very fresh and all the ingredients were similar to what I would have used myself for the pesto. Being guided through the whole process with fun yet precision really made a simple dish like pesto tagliatelle a joy to cook. I probably impressed myself the most with the beef dish, and the beans with garlic underneath were an absolute revelation. Again, super impressed with the quality of the sirloin and the vegetables it came with. The dessert was an absolute superstar flavour-wise - a tart lemony bite with delicious maple syrup mascarpone.. What more could you want?
Our final verdict
Theo Randall’s box really encompassed the taste of Italy in every flavour of every dish, and from what I can see from Banquist’s further boxes, they are all carefully curated to give a real taste of whichever Michelin star chef they represent. If you do order a Banquist box, which we highly recommend you do, make sure you have time, as it absolutely does take a little while to make everything. But if I’m honest, that is half the fun. The instructions are fun and dynamic and there is great satisfaction in having made these dishes from scratch yourself, and serving up a Michelin starred three course meal in the comfort of your own home. And if like me, you live alone, you will have delicious Banquist food to last you for the next few days!
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