It was my 40th birthday a couple of months ago, and Vicki's gift was a voucher for this experience at my favourite local restaurant. The concept is basically that you pay for the experience of working in a Michelin star kitchen for the day, then return to the restaurant in the evening for a dinner for 2. I have never worked in any sort of kitchen before so really had no idea what to expect. For those not familiar, The Box Tree is an ultra traditional French/British restaurant decked out top to bottom in antiques and was one of the original UK Michelin stars back in the 70s. Menu is heavy on classics (ever changing fruit soufflés are probably the signature dish here), techniques are old school and most dishes contain more butter than you can shake a cow at, although the current head chef is modernising aspects of the menu slightly and lightening certain dishes, as well as introducing some more eclectic flavours. The day started at 10am where I was met by the head chef, and after brief introductions and basic safety info it was straight on with prep for lunch. Everyone in the kitchen (6 chefs + porters/runners) was doing fairly menial tasks at the point. I was given a box of Girolles to clean and then pickle and then a load of chorizo to micro dice for making chorizo and apple jam. I was then sent to pastry to make bread dough for flatbreads used in canapés, sweet pastry for caramel tarts and craquelin for glazing choux buns. I was surprised at just how much they let me do to be honest. All the chefs were friendly and helpful and all were asking me about my favourite ingredients, dishes, restaurants etc as well as sharing theirs. The head chef gave me a "master class" in sauces - he showed and gave me his recipes for red wine sauce, game sauce, escabeche, butter emulsion etc. He also showed me how he makes soups/veloutes and vegetable purees, as well as sharing and explainingthe various mistakes and pitfalls that people often make with all of these. As service started I was on the passe with head chef as he plated and perfected dishes, before going back to pastry for a tasting experiment (they were trialling a raspberry sugar vs plain sugar as a brulée top for the lemon mousse). I was then taught how to quenelle ice cream for desserts and finally was given a soufflé master class by the pastry chef. Time flew and before I knew it service was over and I left around 3:30pm. I'd been fed various things throughout the day (including 3 full desserts!) and had various tips, recipes etc written down. Dinner in the evening was as good as always at The Box Tree - 3 tasty little canapés (particularly the exceptionally well made flatbread...), a celeriac espuma with almonds and parsley oil as an amuse was like eating tasty air. My starter was one of the chef's more modern dishes, lamb sweetbreads in a Korean glaze with compressed cucumber, peanuts, radish and avocado puree. Completely the last thing I'd have expected in The Box Tree but absolutely delicious, the glaze sweet, salty, sharp and hot. Vicki had escabeche of red bream with crab toast and bon bon, which was a mass of interesting flavours and textures. Main course we both had lamb - beautifully pink and tender cutlets, a piece of pressed crispy belly with broccoli 3 ways, smoked almonds and a feta bon bon, with the incredible sticky red wine sauce drizzled over. Divine. To paraphrase WG Grace, dessert at The Box Tree is easy - 9 times out of 10 you order the soufflé, the other time you think about it and then order the soufflé. Last night's was apricot served with a peach sorbet. Beautiful. Vicki had a brown butter parfait with various strawberry and clotted cream accompaniments. She said it tasted like the Wimbledon final. Wine wise, we had a glass each of Pedro Romero Manzanilla as aperitif, then a superb bottle of 2003 Gerard Metz Muenchberg GC Riesling for an incredibly reasonable £42. I also had a glass of the sommelier's suggestion of an Alicante Bouschet from Languedoc with the lamb, which was slightly jammy but a decent match. All in all a very enjoyable way to spend a day and night of my summer holidays!