American author, writer and pioneer natural perfumer Mandy Aftel is a force of nature, an inspiration to many and a good friend of The Perfume Society. So when she recently announced she’d be making a rare trip to our shores, we leapt at the chance chance to welcome her. And more than that, to introduce her to the brilliant chef behind our Scented Suppers – Pratap Chahal – who was, himself, inspired to explore the world of fragrant cooking through reading Mandy’s books…
Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, make us fully alive.
Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume has been translated into eight languages and was the winner of The Sense of Smell Institute’s Richard B. Solomon Award.
Aroma – a cookbook Mandy co-authored with chef Daniel Patterson, focuses on the essential link between food and fragrance and includes recipes for both.
Scents & Sensibilities guides the reader through the history and creation of solid perfumes.
In addition to these, the exquisite natural perfumes she makes and organising her extensive collection of historical perfumes, ingredients and fragrance-making paraphernalia into a museum due to open next year; Mandy somehow finds time to create fragrant ingredients specifically for chefs to use in their creations. Since 2003, she’s been supplying these Chef’s Essences® to the finest chefs and mixologists, along with many artisanal producers of fine chocolate, ice cream, sweets, and baked goods. Having pioneered the use of essential oils in home cooking in Aroma (see above).
For Pratap, having trained in Michelin-starred restaurants and worked with some of the greatest names around, including Gordon Ramsey; reading Mandy’s books inspired him to delve further into the world of fragrant ingredients, and of course it was a natural fit to collaborate with us at The Perfume Society to create exclusive Scented Suppers for our VIP Subscribers (keep an eye on our Events page for the next ones!)
In honour of Mandy Aftel‘s visit, it was a pleasure for The Perfume Society to host a press and bloggers evening of exquisite food by Pratap in his beautiful home, where even the menus were scented…
We began with cocktails of Opihr gin spiced with cumin, pepper, mint & lemon (sipped from mini bottles like Alice in Wonderland), then beetroot scented with rose & bergamot, magnolia mustard, orange, ricotta & pistachio. Quite the starter!
Main course was just the most fantastic sirloin of beef with patchouli & carrot pearl barley, labdanum pickled onions & celeriac purée. Truly one of the most incredible and delicious things any of us had eaten.
An off-menu extra treat was a kulfi of saffron and pistachio eaten from vintage silver skewers, then frankincense cream, cedarwood-scented pear and plum gel, apple & chickpea crumble. Unbelievably light and full of fragrant deliciousness. And THEN a chocolate tartlet scented with vetiver, jasmine & sandalwood with wisps of South Indian vetiver. Just the most fabulous finale to an astounding evening.
Good company, great food and perfume. What’s not to like…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale