Local Do Nicely
Under new ownership and management, The Parson Woodforde, near Norwich, reopened for business a year ago. In just twelve months it is already landing the plaudits in a big way. With a menu that brings to the table the very best in local fayre, this country pub and restaurant is a firm favourite with its customers and is now award-winning to boot…
The Parson Woodforde, a pub already with a rich history, is now turning into a haven and must-visit for those who love their food. In September the pub was named as having Norfolk’s Best Pub Menu at the Eastern Daily Press Awards 2011 (sponsored by Bernard Matthews Foodservice) and chef de partie, Edd Watkinson also took home the Highly Commended award for Chef of the Future award.
Head chef Nik Hare explains: “It has been an amazing twelve months and it’s testament to the effort and dedication of everyone involved here. I wanted us to win an EDP category and I also wanted us to gain a rosette. We have achieved both and in such a short space of time. The bar certainly has been raised and we have to now continue to meet the high standards we have in place.”
From the moment you step into the refurbished pub you’re hit by its high standard, warm welcome and relaxing atmosphere. With local ingredients at the menu’s heart, head chef Nik Hare has developed an intriguing mix of starters, main courses and desserts.
In Nik, the Parson’s has a chef who has brought his vast global experience to its Norfolk kitchen. Nik began his career at Norwich City College and worked at The Park Farm Hotel twelve years ago. Since that time, he has lived and worked in some top establishments in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in the UK. He has also perfected the art of the perfect stir-fry after spending three months working on a noodle stall in Singapore.
“My travels overseas have been a great learning process for me and have helped me get to this stage in my career,” said Nik “It’s great personally for me to have learnt a variety of things and now be able to incorporate them daily into an establishment that supports quality food.”
Nik is now a key member of the management team at the historically rich pub. Although the pub has only recently reopened a year ago, the building which houses The Parson Woodforde impressively dates back as far as 1827. It was in 1987 when the pub changed its name to The Parson Woodforde, after local legend James Woodforde.
Back in the 18th century, James lived in Norfolk after he studied at Oxford. Although his life was relatively ordinary, he kept a diary for 45 years. His love for food and drink really shone through in his entries.
“We certainly share the Parson's passion for good food and good drink and we want the passion he had for food to really shine in our pub,” said Nik. “Honest and decent restaurant food is certainly what we are trying to achieve, as well as providing a separate bar menu.”
“Locality is extremely important, so using supplies like rape seed oil, turkey, and local chutneys help us to keep our food miles down and provide that authentic Norfolk flavour. Changing with the seasons is important and putting together menus, which are creative, is the only way of achieving this.”
Making the most out of the local bird
Being a Norfolk establishment, one of the most interesting parts of the award-winning pub menu at The Parson’s is how Nik and his team have utilised the humble turkey.
“One of the most common assumptions that you probably hear is that turkey is a dry meat and is lacking in flavour. I personally think that this notion couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Nik. “Many people in fact have formed this opinion due to its association with Christmas.
“Perhaps when they have had a roast turkey it has been cooked in a way that the moisture has been lost from the bird. For all intent and purpose it is because of this that these negative impressions have been left in the mindset of people.”
The homemade turkey burger now takes pride of place on Nik’s menu, with other dishes such as a Thai Green Turkey Curry featuring on specials boards.
Nik said: “The turkey burger works so well on our menu because it now means we have a healthy option burger. Served up with mango chutney, the meal tastes great, and our customers don’t have to worry about the fat content as turkey is low in fat, but high in protein.
“Thinking creatively is a great way of incorporating turkey onto any menu. We did try theme nights, such as a curry night, but for our clientle we found that it was the specials boards that produced better results. Our turkey curry, served up with homemade naan and pilau rice, is a fantastic hit and is a great way of making the most out of an entire bird.”
Simply by making the swap to using British turkey in recipes, in place of their usual meat, eating out venues can significantly lower the amount of saturated fat in the dishes they offer, all while saving money in a tough economic climate, with the cost of turkey typically being less than other meats.
Consumers more than ever want to know what they are eating, with more than 20 percent saying they want to know the fat content of their food and one in five saying they want to know the calorie content. Eating out, health might be more important than caterers think with 46 percent saying not enough healthy options are available when eating out, a considerable increase on 2009, when 41 percent felt this was the case1.
Being low in saturated fat, with 20 percent fewer calories than beef2, less than a third of the fat found in pork and less than a sixth of the fat found in lamb, skinless turkey breast is an ideal and versatile menu addition to attract health conscious diners.
On the up and up
With Nik at the cooking helm at The Parson Woodforde the success it has encountered in 2011 could simply be the start of things to come.
“We certainly want to take our successes further and continue to be a destination and venue that food lovers will want to visit to enjoy fabulous meals,” said Nik. “We hope by incorporating tasty menus with locally-sourced ingredients we can continue to see this pub move from strength-to-strength.”
Plump for change
For more information on ways to incorporate British turkey on your menus all year round then visit www.bernardmatthewsfoodservice.co.uk or call 0845 519 4097.
This case study was provided by Bernard Matthews Foodservice