Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Author: Katy

Little Seeds reopens with new Tapas Terrace

The next milestone in England’s roadmap out of lockdown will see restrictions on indoor hospitality ease from 17 May, with six people or two larger households allowed to meet and…

The next milestone in England’s roadmap out of lockdown will see restrictions on indoor hospitality ease from 17 May, with six people or two larger households allowed to meet and dine inside for the first time since last year.

Along with many other independent venues across the county and the Midlands, Little Seeds in Stone will reopen for service on Thursday 20 May. Sauce spoke to cofounders Jake Lowndes and Sophie Hardman to find out all about their exciting new concept and what they’ve been up to since last summer.

Jake, head chef, and Sophie, who manages the front of house, have certainly not been resting on their laurels during the most recent and previous lockdowns.

“We launched Little Seeds at Home at the beginning of November during the second lockdown,” says Jake. “Obviously it was a worry about what we would do over Christmas, but in the end we supplied more customers with our dine at home boxes over the Christmas week than we would ever have been able to serve in the restaurant.”

Little Seeds’ popular dine at home boxes have offered customers a new menu every week, in the same spirit as the monthly theme nights they have hosted in the past. Each box aims to take you away for an evening through the medium of food.

“Our style is modern British using what’s in season, but it would have been fairly boring to have Jerusalem artichokes, cabbage and parsnips on the menu every week throughout the winter,” Jake explains. “So, we tried to lift people’s spirits by taking them with our menu to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Scotland… For us, it meant we got to try different things and that’s all contributed to the new menu for our reopening. It’s been good creatively and kept us going without only relying on grants.”

So, do they have any plans to carry on with the dine-at-home offering when the restaurant is fully open again?

“We were thinking of bringing it back for special occasions – alongside the theme nights, and then maybe for Christmas,” Sophie tells Sauce. “As we said, we can only fit 30-35 covers in the restaurant so it would be a way for more people to enjoy our food.”

New Tapas Terrace opens

“It’s changing every day at the moment!” Jake laughs when I ask how Little Seeds has changed since the team last welcomed guests through the doors. “We’ve just had a new combination oven fitted, which is a piece of kit I’ve wanted since we started. All of our money went on the front of house and getting set up when we first opened, and then we had the refurb in 2019 to link with our new style. Now we’re at the stage where we can spend on equipment to take us to the next level with food and service, and also to accommodate the fact we’ve got the outside garden.”

The freshly landscaped outdoor courtyard, lined with bay trees and lavender, hopes to capture day time diners with a relaxed, Mediterranean vibe and a whole new tapas and drinks menu. It’s inspired by the likes of Simon Shaw’s El Gato Negro and Brindisa at Borough Market Kitchen.

Served outdoors only at Saturday lunchtime and all-day Sunday, the tapas menu ranges from nibbles like Gordal olives and salted Spanish almonds, to Cobble Lane Cured Meat and a mix of the finest Spanish and British cheeses. There are meat, fish, and veg dishes like pork and chorizo meatballs, pan-seared hake with Romanesco sauce and classic patatas bravas, plus desserts like crema Catalana and Basque cake with blood orange.

Jake has aimed for authentic tapas recipes using the best of British produce, including Cobble Lane meats from London, Cornish fish from Celtic Fish and Game, and Wellocks for seasonal fruit and veg. There are certain ingredients like the olives and almonds that come from Spain, but the spirit of the menu is very much in-keeping with the Little Seeds ethos.

“We’ve also tailored the drinks menu for drinking outside, with some lighter wines for you to relax and enjoy a few glasses of alongside the tapas,” adds Sophie. “And we’ve added some Spanish sherries and now have wine available by the carafe.”

There’s a new bar outside as well, for pre- and post-dinner drinks on sunny evenings. If the weather turns and you want to move inside, there will always be space to do so and the tapas menu available. The outdoor area will likely close in October for the winter, with the menu moving to comforting Sunday roasts.

A Taste of Little Seeds

Evening service will see the à la carte and A Taste of Little Seeds menus available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A Taste of Little Seeds was launched back in October and ran for two weeks before lockdown 2 kicked in. It will be available every evening, and although you don’t need to specifically book the tasting menu, Jake and Sophie ask that the whole table partake if you do choose it.

“We love what the team are doing at The Boat Inn, near Lichfield, but there isn’t much in a similar format closer to Stoke or in the Stone area,” Jake tells Sauce. “The dishes on the Taste of Little Seeds menu are similar to the à la carte, but with a few extra special courses and some surprises at the start and end of the meal. Basically we’re running three new menus when we open up!”

The couple are both looking forward to seeing the whole hospitality industry back up and running after an exceptionally tough year.

“I think hospitality will be key to giving people the confidence to come out, because a lot of people are suffering anxiety about it,” says Sophie. But what they are most looking forward to is getting their team back together again. “In our industry, who you work with becomes a massive part of your social life because you work evenings and weekends, so it will be good to have everyone back. And of course we’re lucky to have lots of regular customers, so it will be good to see them and learn how to chat again; you lose the art of conversation during lockdown!”

Jake has a new chef starting in the kitchen, who has recently qualified from Stoke-on-Trent College, and Sophie is happy to have some new additions to the front of house team, too.

“We’re trying to bring some new young people into the mix,” she explains. “It’s been hard for a lot of school and college leavers, with not sitting their exams and teaching being online. We’re trying where we can to help a few young people get onto a new ladder, because they probably haven’t had many opportunities over the last few months.”

One additional change is that the restaurant will open Thursday to Sunday to give the team an extra day off, although Jake and Sophie will still be there on a Wednesday to do paperwork and prep for the week ahead.

“We want to be a progressive company and that’s another reason behind the four-day week,” Jake states. “We’ve got this small, elite team and ideally we want everyone working all the time we’re open, so it feels like everyone is in it together and pushing towards the same goal of making the restaurant the best it can be. That work-life balance is part of showing that it can be a great career, whether you want to stay here or move on eventually.

“It is a lifestyle but if you enjoy food and drink there is no better job.”

You can book your table at Little Seeds online now. The outside Tapas Terrace will be open every weekend, weather-permitting, and guests will have the choice when they arrive of whether to sit indoors or in the courtyard. Drinks on the Terrace are on a walk-in basis, no reservations.

Little Seeds
16-18 Radford Street, Stone, ST15 8DA

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White’s Coffee Bar reopens with new chef & menu

Among the hospitality businesses across Staffordshire and England who excitedly opened up for outdoor service this week was White’s Coffee Bar at Wolseley Bridge. Sauce caught up with owner Charlotte…

Among the hospitality businesses across Staffordshire and England who excitedly opened up for outdoor service this week was White’s Coffee Bar at Wolseley Bridge. Sauce caught up with owner Charlotte Dewsnap to find out what’s changed since guests were last allowed to dine there.

Based in the courtyard at Oakedge Park, which is also home to Charlotte’s father’s gun-making workshop, White’s has been around since 2016. It began as a tiny coffee counter next door to the family’s sporting goods business. When it became hugely popular, they decided to close the shop and expand the café, serving locally roasted Chartley Coffee and homemade cakes. Many of the bespoke fittings and furniture were made by Charlotte’s brother, Matthew.

Full English breakfast at White's

The quirky venue had a growing band of loyal customers when Covid-19 came on the scene and shut hospitality down last year. One of the silver linings for Charlotte and the White’s Coffee Bar team is that closure has given them the chance to expand even further, relocating the kitchen into a freshly empty unit, extending their coffee counter and increasing indoor seating options. They are not the only changes, with the team also welcoming new chef Luke to the fold.

“Molly has been with us for just over a year, and she started out baking our cakes and tray bakes. She’s got such a flair for it. I put her on an apprentice scheme, so she’s now at college one day a week and works here for the rest of the week,” says Charlotte.

“Our new chef, Luke, has just joined us and helped to set up the new kitchen, as we’ve gone from a tiny space with just a panini press to a full-on industrial kitchen. He’s been a great help and has lots of experience. They’re both real foodies and passionate about the job.”

A new chef and a new kitchen mean there’s a new menu on offer, of course. While some customer favourites from menus past have been kept on, including hearty breakfasts, there are wholesome new additions like a steak ciabatta, homemade lasagna, and chorizo and chicken skewers, as well as their new range of Gunmaker’s Boards.

Gunmakers board with Freedom lager

“We make as much as possible ourselves and try to use local suppliers where we can, so the meat comes from Perry’s butchers, we’re getting Lowndes’ fruit and veg, and our scotch eggs are from Wissage Bakehouse.”

Outdoors there’s a brand new covered wooden canopy softened by ivy and planters, and additional tables in the courtyard, increasing White’s covers to around 80. The extension and renovations will allow Charlotte and the team to host more of their popular theme nights and live music when they’re able, and they’re also hoping to open on Friday and Saturday evenings if all goes well. Also on the cards – when hospitality venues can reopen for indoor service – are Sunday lunches.

So, what was Charlotte most looking forward to about reopening?

“I just can’t wait to see everyone. I can’t wait for all our customers to try the new food, and I think they’ll be so excited to see what we’ve done. And to get all the staff back and just be normal!

“We’ve got the most amazing neighbours here – there’s an antiques shop, beautician, hairdresser, dog groomer, and of course my dad’s gun shop,” Charlotte explains, as if visitors needed any more reason to stop by. “But also because we’re on the shooting ground, people of all ages can come and do that. There are lovely walks near here on Cannock Chase, and Shugborough Hall is literally just down the road.”

White’s Coffee Bar is open Tuesday-Friday 10:00-16:00, Saturday 9:30-16:30, and Sunday 10:00-15:00 from Tuesday 13 April for outdoor service and takeaway. You can book your table over the phone or by Facebook message.

White’s Coffee Bar
Oakedge Park, Wolseley Bridge, ST17 0XS

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The friends connecting their community through food

Thus autumn, before Lockdown 2.0, Sauce met Amanda Turner and Gemma Heath, co-founders of Collective Skills Project, to find out more about their projects building community through food in Hartshill…

Thus autumn, before Lockdown 2.0, Sauce met Amanda Turner and Gemma Heath, co-founders of Collective Skills Project, to find out more about their projects building community through food in Hartshill and Penkhull.

Firm friends Amanda and Gemma met through their work for a Thames river boat event company, and launched their community interest company (CIC) Collective Skills Project in 2019. Their aim is reducing loneliness and isolation by bringing people in their local communities together to develop and share key life skills.

This December, Collective Skills Project have launched their latest project in collaboration with Feasted and Sanctuary Ale House, with funding and support from Hartshill and Harpfields Residents’ Association Events and The Community Foundation for Staffordshire. The Teatime Tuesday project aims to help Hartshill residents who are struggling financially due to the impact of COVID-19. The team will be distributing free meal bags containing all of the ingredients to make a hearty, healthy meal from scratch – enough to feed up to four for one meal.

With recipes written by local chef and educator Cris Cohen of Feasted, the bags will contain cards with instructions to create simple, comforting vegetarian dishes including lentil & vegetable cottage pie and broccoli & cauliflower macaroni cheese. Every Tuesday in December and on Tuesday 5 January, there will be 40 bags available on a first come, first served basis from Sanctuary Ale House between 15:00-17:00, but a delivery service is on offer for over 60s who are unable to leave the house.

Teatime Tuesday follows on from Amanda and Gemma’s main autumn project. Through ‘Fallen from the Tree’ they collect unwanted or excess fruit each year from private gardens, allotments and public spaces to be redistributed for free. They ask fruit donors across Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme to join them in combating fruit waste, and have been creating a database of gardens, orchards, public and private spaces with surplus or unwanted fruit that can be donated.

This year Gemma and Amanda have done most of the collection runs themselves, as coordinating volunteers has been complicated during the coronavirus pandemic, but the pair are hopeful that next year they will be able to reach more fruit trees and give out more fruit. In spite of the pandemic, they received donations of all sorts of fruit from apples and pears to plums, damsons and sloes – even some walnuts. The produce was given out for free at community stalls and at the first Newcastle-under-Lyme Artisan Market on 18 November. One donors’ apples went to local charitable association Helping Angels, who made a slow cooker apple crumble.

And Collective Skills Project not only connects the community through food. During the first lockdown, Amanda and Gemma coordinated a Community Clay project, delivering 300 packs of clay to households in Hartshill and encouraging people to make decorations that were then hung along the main road to create a pop-up outdoor gallery that all residents could enjoy.

You can follow the Collective Skills Project on Facebook or Instagram to stay up-to-date and find out how you could get involved.

Collective Skills Project

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Which Wine When?

Released in August 2020, Which Wine When is the first book from Staffordshire-born sommelier and food and drink consultant Bert Blaize and chef, writer and marketer Claire Strickett. At first…

Released in August 2020, Which Wine When is the first book from Staffordshire-born sommelier and food and drink consultant Bert Blaize and chef, writer and marketer Claire Strickett.

At first glance it might seem like one of those novelty books a well-meaning but ultimately bamboozled relative buys for your birthday, which you thank them for profusely and never pick up again. But it is absolutely not one of those. 

This is a true reference book and one that if you’re a regular wine drinker it would be wise to have within arm’s reach when you’re planning meals and doing the weekly shop online. It’s a springboard to being able to talk about the experience of drinking wine and understanding which wine to choose when, exactly as it says on the tin.

Which Wine When doesn’t just explain what to pair with venison or roast pheasant (although these bases are covered, of course). It has pairings for everything from chicken nuggets and cheese puffs to Chinese takeaway. And what’s more, Blaize and Strickett very clearly explain not only which wine will work best, but why each pairing works, following up with alternative suggestions under the heading ‘If you can’t get this, ask for…’ and a generic last resort under ‘If all else fails, ask for…’. 

Picking the right wine to complement what you’re eating isn’t some dark and mysterious art with this book to hand – it’s as easy and natural as making spaghetti and meatballs and sitting down in front of Netflix. For which, incidentally, you’ll want a nice Chianti.

It’s written and structured in a way that’s accessible and genuinely useful. It feels long overdue, but the authors seem to be aiming to democratise wine in the same way that a new generation of young chefs have democratised fine dining. Self-consciously anti-snobbish and un-stuffy, the book has a sense of humour backed up by some serious knowledge and an abundantly clear passion for the grape.  

It would make a great Christmas gift for someone who enjoys and is curious about wine but doesn’t take it (or themselves) too seriously. If it’s for someone really special to you, you could even consult the book before giving it alongside a bottle of something that will pair perfectly with their favourite meal. This is one they’ll enjoy reading through on a wintry afternoon and then referring back to for years to come.  

Which Wine When by Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett (Ebury Press) is available to buy online and from all major booksellers. 

Look out for our upcoming Sauce: The Podcast episode with Bert Blaize.

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You Can Dough It: DIY pizza in a pan

Looking for a rainy winter’s afternoon activity to do with the kids? Stuck for date night ideas while restaurants are closed? We might have just the thing you’re looking for…

Looking for a rainy winter’s afternoon activity to do with the kids? Stuck for date night ideas while restaurants are closed? We might have just the thing you’re looking for – with an exclusive discount, no less.

As you might have seen on our Instagram Stories (you can follow us @staffordshiresauce if you don’t already), we recently got to try out You Can Dough It, the new DIY pizza in a pan kit from Staffordshire-based Parogon Group.

You Can Dough It box

Launched at the start of November as hospitality venues across the UK closed their doors to diners yet again, these aptly named kits are now available for collection from Thursday to Sunday at five of Parogon’s seven pubs: The Orange Tree (Newcastle), The Wayfarer (Stone), The Blockhouse (Baldwin’s Gate), The Seven Stars (Brocton) and The Red House (Lilleshall, Shropshire).

Order and pick-up couldn’t be easier. Simply visit the dedicated You Can Dough It website, choose your closest or most convenient participating venue from the dropdown menu, select your collection time and pay in advance. When you arrive, all you need to do is call the venue on the phone number provided and someone (wearing a mask, of course) will bring the box out to you.

You Can Dough It contents

The pizza box packaging doubles as a method of presentation, if you want to relish that takeaway feeling alongside the satisfaction of making your own pizza (almost) from scratch. From the moment it’s handed over you can’t fail to notice that distinctive aroma making your mouth water. Inside, all the components are nestled in plastic tubs, neatly labelled and ready to go.

Included in the DIY kit are two readymade dough balls (big enough to make two medium-sized pizzas), chunks of Fior di Latte mozzarella, a generous portion of San Marzano tomato sauce, ditto Grana Padano cheese, a few basil leaves, a seasoning mix of dried herbs and salt, a flour/semolina mix to dust your work surface, and some extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the top of your pizzas.

The only equipment you’ll need is a frying pan (or pans, if you want to make both pizzas at once). You can use a rolling pin to shape the base if you like, but it’s much more satisfying – and really easy – to stretch it by hand. It’s a good idea to prepare any extra toppings you like beforehand, too. We used some sliced chorizo, red onion and green olives (which was delicious, if we do say so ourselves), but all the ingredients you need to make a perfectly respectable margherita are provided in the kit – as shown in the photo at the top of this article.

Easy to follow instructions are helpfully printed on the inside of the box lid. It’s a really straightforward process with plenty of room to get creative and relatively little room for error – great if you want to get the kids involved. It’s as simple as putting the stretched dough in a pan and adding your toppings. You’ll want the underside quite well done before you transfer to the grill to finish off the top; as the instructions suggest, it’s worth checking you’ve got a good colour on the base by lifting the edge gently with a spatula.

Good quality ingredients make this kit worth the £15 price tag, in our opinion. The well-seasoned tomato sauce, firm mozzarella and crumbly Grana Padano, along with the airy, gratifyingly chewy texture of the base, allow you to recreate the experience of eating out in the comfort of your home. There’s minimal washing up to contend with, and it’s a relatively affordable way to support a local hospitality business at a time when many are struggling.

Only marginally more expensive than fast food takeaway pizza, the added value here is in the enjoyment you get from opening up that box and creating a delicious meal in not much more than 15 minutes. And there are few things more satisfying – especially after the year we’ve all had – than curling up on the sofa to eat hot, cheesy bread fresh out of the pan.

Exclusively for Sauce readers, use the code SAUCE20 when you order for 20% off. This offer is available until 31 December.

You Can Dough It

This review is part of a paid partnership with You Can Dough It. All views are our own.
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Trentham Bakehouse launches afternoon tea

We first met Curtis at Trentham Bakehouse back in February 2020, when he explained why he went from being a professional chef in high end restaurants to opening a bakery…

We first met Curtis at Trentham Bakehouse back in February 2020, when he explained why he went from being a professional chef in high end restaurants to opening a bakery in Stoke. In case you missed it, you can read our interview here.

Today we’re here to talk about the fact that Trentham Bakehouse are launching a range of very special afternoon teas, which we were lucky enough to try. Curtis and the team are offering three different options, each of which is presented in a beautiful picnic hamper complete with plates and cutlery. You have the choice of afternoon tea only, the sparkling afternoon tea with a bottle of Freixenet prosecco, or a luxury hamper which includes a bottle of yellow label Veuve Clicquot.

Picnic hamper with prosecco

Add a set of beautiful linen napkins, a big blanket and some glasses and you’ve got everything you need to head off to your favourite secluded spot and enjoy an al fresco feast this summer.  While everything comes in neatly arranged pairs, the hamper would easily be enough for a family of four or two couples to share. Unless you’re not into sharing, which would be totally understandable given the level of deliciousness we’re dealing with here, in which case you’re set for the next couple days!

Look away now if you don’t want to feast your eyes on a blow-by-blow account of this epic afternoon tea…

Let’s start with the quiche. In my experience opinions can be divided here, but this one’s oozy filling, rich with cheese and ham, could convince even the most quiche-sceptical. It has a puff pastry casing that reminds me of pastéis de nata. The sausage roll is another textbook case of perfect puff – light and flaky without being greasy – and it’s generously filled with tasty sausage meat seasoned with fresh herbs.

Picnic basket with quiche and scone

Possibly my favourite item in the whole hamper is the savoury scone. Crumbly and short, topped with an umami hit of cheese and shot through with onion seeds, it’s filled with chunky, moreishly salty bacon jam.

Out come the sandwiches next, and I would say they are more typical picnic fare than the dainty finger sandwiches you would associate with high tea – which is fine by me! The fillings in our basket are New York Deli, salmon and cream cheese, ham salad, and egg with lettuce, all served on the bakery’s own soft, floury white baps. They’re fresh and tasty with just the right filling-to-bread ratio.

Ham salad and New York Deli

It’s hard to know which sweet to tackle first, but the pineapple and passionfruit pavlova looks like a worthy contender. The only component of the afternoon tea that actually requires cutlery, it’s a kind of pastry-less twist on lemon meringue with a slice of lightly charred juicy pineapple, a squiggle of vanilla crème pâtissière and a scattering of super-tart, bright orange amazingness across the top.

Pineapple and passionfruit pavlova

The sweet scone is everything you want a scone to be: crumbly texture, strawberry jam and a vanilla crème pât, juicy raisins and a dusting of icing sugar.

Stick with me here because the rich, fudgy brownie has been turned on its head, pretty literally, and piped with a white chocolate frosting, then a chocolate sauce, then a sprinkle of even more delicious brownie crumbs. And the white chocolate and honeycomb flapjack is not like any flapjack you’ve ever had before, I promise. Then there’s a big, satisfying slice of millionaire’s shortbread with a smooth dulce de leche filling and short, crumbly base, topped off with creamy chocolate.

Flapjack, brownie, millionaire's shortbread

Last but not least is the alluringly shiny dark chocolate eclair, scattered with fudge pieces and filled with a thick, toffee flavoured cream. The choux pastry has texture and bite to it, with very little resemblance to the sad, chewy excuses for an eclair that you’ll find in the supermarket. Absolute heaven and definitely in the running for favourite item. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know there’s another very important part of afternoon tea that I’ve not mentioned yet. But there’s no need to worry, because Curtis and the team have got that covered too, with a selection of two different Teapigs teas included in the package. Maybe bring your flask?

Trentham Bakehouse picnic

This is an indulgent treat of an afternoon tea that takes as much care with the savoury elements as with the sweet. It would make the perfect centrepiece for a birthday or a special date (if this was the accompaniment to a wedding proposal, I can’t think of anyone who would say no), especially with the addition of the lovely chilled bottle of prosecco or champagne.

Add your own finishing touches to make it personal and the Trentham Bakehouse afternoon tea hamper will be a stunning experience that I’m willing to bet you’ll be talking about for months to come. Get it booked in!

Prices start at £40. Call, email or message Trentham Bakehouse on Facebook or Instagram to place your order with at least 48 hours notice.

Trentham Bakehouse
8 Atherstone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JY
01782 657812

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Let them eat buns

After working for almost 20 years as a chef, executive chef and chef consultant, Curtis Stewart has taken on a whole new challenge in the form of Trentham Bakehouse. Originally…

After working for almost 20 years as a chef, executive chef and chef consultant, Curtis Stewart has taken on a whole new challenge in the form of Trentham Bakehouse.

Originally from Manchester, Curtis now lives in Stoke with his partner Jenna and two young children. When the previous baker at 8 Atherstone Road – Dave – retired last summer after 22 years running The Bread Basket, Curtis and Jenna stepped in to take it on. A lot of Dave’s regulars still come in for their daily bread, or a sandwich and a chat, which has helped smooth the transition. But as far as Curtis is concerned there’s still a way to go.

“We’ve rewired, we’ve taken out walls, we’ve got new flooring down and new tiles going up,” he tells Sauce. “It’s been hard because we’ve not been able to close. I’ve been working on it in the afternoons, evenings and at weekends. My day starts at 3:00, and I’ve been here until 22:00 or 23:00 most nights, which is a bit mad.”

Curtis would like to grow organically, recruiting more staff so that their production volumes and product range can increase. As of March, The Slamwich Club on Hanley’s Piccadilly were the bakery’s only trade customers, but that side of the business is set to expand too. Curtis also has plans to introduce a new sandwich menu, combining his freshly baked bread with a deli-style offering of local charcuterie and cheeses. The aim is to offer something customers can’t get from the supermarket, but he recognises it will take time.

The next step is to build seating around the front of house area – a place for people to sit and enjoy a coffee (from Staffordshire Coffee, of course) and a pain au chocolat. The process of making pains au chocolat, croissants and the buns Trentham Bakehouse is rapidly becoming Insta-famous for takes three days. Stage one starts on Tuesday, so they’re ready for the weekend. With a new pastry chef on board to assist, Curtis is hoping to offer what has only been available on a Saturday, every day of the week.

“Monday and Tuesday are normally our prep days,” he explains. “We won’t normally do a brown bake on a Monday, because we are just gearing up then. Tuesday we will add a brown bake. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we do white tin loaves and bloomers, organic rye, wholemeal, toasted wheat flake and malt barley loaves.”

However, it’s the traditional twisted buns filled with anything from cinnamon sugar to Lotus Biscoff spread that are fast becoming their bestsellers.

“I’ve been to a lot of bakeries and I think there has to be something that draws you in,” Curtis says. “The bun is very versatile, but there are loads of other things that we want to introduce as well, like duck egg custard tarts and cruffins.”

Viennoiserie will be the focus – a category of patisserie which uses a yeasted (or leavened) dough. Croissants, danishes, kouign-amann and cruffins all fall into the viennoiserie category because they are yeasted and laminated. With new ideas in the pipeline all the time, it looks to be these droolworthy pastries that will set Trentham Bakehouse apart locally.

“People don’t think certain things would work here in Stoke, but I think there is a lot of opportunity for small businesses,” adds Curtis. “If you’ve got a good concept there is a good chance that it will work. Because the market isn’t saturated here, there are opportunities to do something that nobody else is doing. People are always willing to pay for things if they think they’re getting value for money.”

Do you think a bakery is seasonal in the way that other places are?

“When you work with flour and yeast it is very unpredictable. You’re working with something that is alive. You see how differently the dough reacts when the seasons change. In the summer time, your window for working with it is very small; in the winter your window is very large.”

In terms of flavours, the winter has been a time of malts and ryes, but when it comes to spring time Curtis will be looking towards wild garlic and Canadian sourdoughs as well as alternative different flours, wheats and seeds. From a pastry perspective, spring and summer will be all about the mille feuilles, pavlovas, meringues – anything that is fruit-based or fruit-filled.

“The beauty of doing this is that there’s no blueprint; you can do as you want, when you want. Consistency is the only thing I’m searching for. It is the key.”

Trentham Bakehouse
8 Atherstone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JY

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Dining in: Sauce Supper Club Dine at Home

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was…

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was on 1 May that they delivered their first Dine at Home boxes in partnership with Tom Shepherd. The former head chef at one Michelin starred Adam’s Restaurant in Birmingham is planning to open his own restaurant in Lichfield later this year.

Each weekend there’s a different fine dining menu for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, with minimal effort required. This week, Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is reviewed for us by passionate Stoke-on-Trent-based foodie, Mike Lawton. Mike shares his thoughts on the food and considers whether it’s truly possible to recreate the restaurant experience at home.

The menu

Milk bread with marmite butter
Pulled barbecue pork fritter, wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots, watercress
Slow roasted lamb shoulder, tenderstem broccoli, toasted couscous, cumin yoghurt, imam bayildi, pomegranate, lamb jus
Chilled coconut rice pudding, Alfonso mango salsa, coconut crumble, lemongrass and lime leaf sabayon
Chocolate fudge

In any business environment, it’s the innovators who survive; those who make the most of the situation and are able to adapt to changes in a way that suits their skillset. I think the emergence of ‘Dine at Home’ experiences plays very well into that; opening up new channels for consumers to create experiences in their own homes is a perfect example of innovation and will no doubt be a feature of the industry in the future.

When we first spoke about doing this review, I’d already had a couple of these types of experiences, from WOOD Manchester and from Peels on Wheels at Hampton Manor. To do the same with Sauce Supper Club and Tom was a great opportunity to compare the offers of three very credible contenders.

The experience began on Friday morning at 7:30am when the package was delivered to our door. Just to receive it was intriguing: excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm delivered in a cardboard box – that doesn’t happen every day!

The first thing I have to applaud the team on is the packaging. Today it’s really important to think about sustainability and how we respect the planet’s resources. The product packaging was genuinely thoughtful, not just in terms of what was in it, but in the way it was presented, including the use of fully recyclable WoolCool insulation.

Dine at Home box constituents

At the forefront of your mind when ordering a meal like this is, can you create a restaurant experience in your own home? What can it deliver? Is it going to be the same? How authentically can an amateur re-create the skills of a chef at home? There is an inferred responsibility – you want to perform well for yourself but also to represent the chef and their team’s hard work in preparing the food.

Inside the box is the skill, the enthusiasm, the knowledge and dedication of the chef in the product. It then comes down to you to engineer that into your own experience, using your knowledge of where you’ve eaten, what you’ve observed, what you like and what you dislike.

Of course, the end result is not the same, but I would argue it can be better because you’re able to apply your own influences to that of the chef – you can give your own care, attention and creativity. When expressed in these terms this is in no way a degraded experience – it’s a different experience influenced by you. It’s a fusion of chef and customer that presents a blend of skill and experience on each plate – it’s a chance to express your personality in the solid knowledge that the food quality will be assured.  

We received the box on the Friday and decided not to cook it until the Saturday. It was unpacked and we stored it in the fridge. It kept beautifully for 24 hours – plenty of time to plan, no need to rush. Adding to the experience was that every time I opened the fridge there was a thrill of anticipation, thinking ‘Ohh, look what’s coming!’ – it played an unexpected role in making the dinner special. 

Then Saturday night came and my wife and I laid everything out in the containers. It was very clear what to do because each of the courses had a colour-coded dot. The instructions were well-presented, very clear and concise, and enabled you to plan ahead. We switched on the oven and the fun began.

The first step was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done; I warmed up the bread. The difference – and this is where the value of this experience lies for me – is the skill you find in the detail. Although the bread was of course delicious, it was the marmite butter that created an incredible depth of flavour and taste – unbelievable to be able to create that in something so usually “ordinary”. That was a fitting precursor for what was to come. 

Milk bread with marmite butter

Whilst we were enjoying the bread, the pork fritters went into the oven and we laid out the mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots and watercress. Each element when tasted individually was well-prepared and delicate – together it was genuinely tremendous. The fritter was very easy to warm up. I used my Thermapen to check the temperature was right inside, and it came out crisp on the outside with great flavour and depth on the inside. Paired with the little apricots and mustard mayonnaise, we didn’t want it to end. I’m sure Tom would laugh at my basic plating skills, but the dish was a great mix of textures and flavours and we both really enjoyed it. We enjoyed a white Côtes du Rhône which paired beautifully with the construction of the dish.  

The lamb was a benchmark main course in terms of the combination of flavours and textures. The North African inspiration was clear to taste and smell; it came with couscous and imam bayildi, which I hadn’t heard of before, but is a Turkish aubergine dish. It was fantastic. The smell coming from the kitchen was like walking through a souk on a warm summer evening; with aromas of spices wafting through the warm confined streets. The lamb was beautifully prepared, compressed and rolled, perfectly ready for simply placing on a baking sheet and waiting for the magic to happen.

As ever, the winning part was in the detail, in the lamb jus. Wow. That’s the bit that you can’t create at home. It was truly phenomenal. All the science, the skill, the experience, and the professionalism of the chef comes in those little pots. This was a stand-out dish for me, not only because of the construction and the ease of bringing it together, but also because it demonstrated a complexity and depth in food that I could never have made myself.

Lamb, couscous, imam bayildi, broccoli

The dessert was spectacular. It was everything I want a dessert to be: rich, sweet, a beautiful texture. I’ve eaten at Adam’s a couple of times and had this dessert in the dining room there. The rice pudding was fantastic, the vanilla judged perfectly, the mango was delicious, and then there was the sweetness of the sabayon sauce… Just a beautiful balance. For me to have created that would have taken hours and hours of work and it wouldn’t have tasted anywhere close to that good. It was an absolute pleasure to serve it up, and it wasn’t difficult! All I needed was a plate and a spoon. I can’t speak highly enough of this dessert.

Throughout the lockdown I’ve tried to make the weekends special by trying to cook something a bit special – to make Saturdays different. These experiences really cater to that, they inspire you to be creative in the safe knowledge that if anything goes awry the food will carry the evening. If you’re in the house and you can’t get out, whether for lack of childcare or other commitments, you can be sure that this is definitely not second best. What you miss in the restaurant experience, you make up for with your own enthusiasm and dedication. It’s a perfect blend of creativity; yours and the chef’s.

I genuinely think these experiences should continue to be available once the hospitality industry returns to normal. Not only because it’s a revenue stream for restaurants, but also because it extends the restaurant or chef’s brand to new audiences who may never have found it accessible before. It’s a good introduction to bring people into fine dining, and a great way to involve the whole family in preparing food. The preparation and the plating became a talking point for my wife and I, creating possibly an even more engaging experience than eating in a restaurant.

It does make you appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant and understand what you’re paying for, but at the same time this model allows consumers to enjoy and be inspired by this level of cooking. I was certainly inspired. I would do it again, and I would recommend it to anybody.

Ordering & delivery
Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is available for Friday and Saturday delivery, with prices starting from £37.50pp. Delivery is free to Lichfield and the surrounding area, with nationwide delivery now available at a charge of £24.

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Strawberry, vanilla custard & baked white chocolate


Strawberry, vanilla custard & baked white chocolate

Strawberry sorbet dessert

Private chef and MasterChef finalist Louisa Ellis brought this recipe for strawberry sorbet, vanilla custard and baked white chocolate to her residency at The George at Alstonefield in 2019.

With British strawberry season in full swing, now is the perfect time to make this light and summery dessert.

  • Author: Katy


For the strawberry sorbet
600g strawberry purée
120g caster sugar
50ml water
50ml lemon juice

For the vanilla custard
400ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
100g sugar
5 egg yolks

For the baked white chocolate
200g Callebaut white chocolate

For the macerated strawberries
1kg British strawberries
25ml white balsamic
25g caster sugar


For the strawberry sorbet

  1. Bring the water, sugar and lemon juice to the boil.
  2. Pour sugar water onto strawberry purée and whisk.
  3. Leave to cool.
  4. Churn in ice cream machine for approximately 20 minutes or until set.
  5. Set in the freezer before serving.

For the vanilla custard

  1. Whisk the egg and sugar together lightly in a bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and vanilla pod to the boil.
  3. Pour hot cream over the sugar and egg removing the vanilla pod skin.
  4. Place custard mix into a deep tray/ramekin/silicone mould and bake in the oven at 110°C.
  5. Pour hot water around the dishes/moulds to create a bain-marie. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or until firm but with a slight wobble) and chill.
  6. Portion or scoop mixture as needed.

For the baked white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Line a tray with baking parchment and spread the chocolate out so that it is flat.
  3. Bake the white chocolate for 10 minutes and check to see if it is slightly golden. If the chocolate has only melted with no colour then place it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until light brown.
  4. When caramelised, cool and break into small pieces.

For the macerated strawberries

  1. Take half of the strawberries and blend into a purée with the white balsamic and 25g sugar.
  2. Strain the purée through a sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Take the unprepared strawberries and remove the stalk but keep whole.
  4. Submerge the strawberries in the purée mix overnight.
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Cured, torched mackerel


Cured, torched mackerel

Cured torched mackerel dish

Feast with Friends chef and educator Cris Cohen shared this recipe for mackerel with carrot purée, pickled carrot and wasabi avocado in Sauce’s spring 2019 issue.

Most of the ingredients will probably be in your store cupboard, so why not add the others to your shopping list and give it a go this weekend?

  • Author: Katy


For the cure
40g sea salt
40g caster sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds (ground)
2 mackerel fillets (all bones removed)

For the carrot and citrus purée
1 large carrot
100ml lime juice/ lemon juice mix or 75ml yuzu juice

For the pickled carrot
250ml water
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 heritage carrots (different colours)
2 tsp salt

For the wasabi and avocado
1 avocado
2 tsp wasabi paste
Squeeze of lime juice


For the cure

  1. Mix together salt, sugar and fennel seeds to make cure mix.
  2. Sprinkle half of the mix onto tray. 
  3. Lay mackerel fillets skin side down and cover with remaining cure mix.
  4. Place in fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Take out of the fridge and wash mackerel gently in cold water.

For the carrot and citrus purée

  1. Peel and cut carrot into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Cook until tender in salted water.
  3. Remove a little of the cooking water.
  4. Liquidise with an immersion blender, adding a little of the cooking liquid back in if required.
  5. Add the juice until purée has punchy citrus flavour.
  6. Adjust seasoning if required.
  7. Pass through a fine sieve using the back of a spoon.
  8. Transfer into a squeezy bottle for plating up.

For the pickled carrot

  1. Warm water and put vinegar, sugar and salt in water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Thinly slice carrot on a mandolin and place into warm pickling solution.
  3. Steep in solution for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from pickling solution when ready to serve.

For the wasabi and avocado 

  1. Mash avocado on a plate using a fork.
  2. Mix in salt, wasabi to taste and lime juice.
  3. Pass through a fine sieve.

Serve with toasted rice or crispy noodles.


If you enjoyed this, follow Cris on Facebook for more tips and ideas:

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