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Celebrating Burns Night around Staffordshire

Burns Night is on the horizon, and that means it’s time to dig out the tartan and raise a wee dram to the iconic Scottish poet that was Robert Burns….

Burns Night is on the horizon, and that means it’s time to dig out the tartan and raise a wee dram to the iconic Scottish poet that was Robert Burns.

As The Bard of Ayrshire’s 261st birthday fast approaches, we’ve scouted out the best places to get your fix of haggis, neeps and tatties – as well as plenty more dishes inspired by traditional Scottish fare – across Staffordshire this January. Slàinte Mhath!

Little Seeds, Stone
Thursday 23 January, 18:00-20:30

Little Seeds are offering a delectable five course tasting menu to honour the legendary Bard. Expect dishes such as warming cock-a-leekie broth with Scottish soda bread and whisky cured salmon, pickled cucumber & lemon creme fraiche to get you in the Scottish spirit. And we couldn’t forget the star of the show: the ‘Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race’ (also known as haggis) will also be on the menu!

Priced at £35 per person, £10pp deposit required. Add drinks pairing for £25pp. Booking essential.

Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe, Denstone
Saturday 25 January, 18:30 onwards

You’re in for a real treat at Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe on Burns Night. With four starters, four mains and four desserts on the menu, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting your perfect Burns Supper. We’re especially excited for the starter of Gamekeeper’s bon bons, carrot & cardamom purée and pink peppercorn cream sauce, and of course, haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky cream sauce.

Must book in advance.

Darwin’s Restaurant at The George Hotel, Lichfield
Saturday 25 January, 19:00-23:00

Burns Night is coming to Lichfield! Visit Darwin’s Restaurant at the George Hotel and enjoy a traditional Scottish four course dinner with a tot of whiskey. Expect dishes such as cullen skink to start, Scottish salmon, chateaux neeps & tatties with creamed leeks for the main, and to end the evening, Scottish oat biscuit apple crumble and custard.

Priced at £35 per person. Menu options are required at the time of booking.

No. 26 Bar & Dining at Aston Marina, Stone
Saturday 25 January, 17:00-21:00

No. 26 at Aston Marina are also honouring ol’ Rabbie Burns, serving a mouthwatering three course meal of all our Scottish favourites. To start, Oak smoked Scottish salmon fillet with cucumber jelly, crayfish & capers, followed by Haggis-stuffed chicken breast, oxtail croquette, neeps & tatties and rich Balmoral sauce. And what’s Burns Night without a whiskey-soaked raspberry and Scottish oat cranachan to finish?

Three courses: £25. Three courses with whiskies: £35.

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Where to eat out this Veganuary

Now that we’ve said farewell to mounds of turkey and pigs-in-blankets and the cheese boards have been put away, lots of us are trying to forge habits for 2020 that…

Now that we’ve said farewell to mounds of turkey and pigs-in-blankets and the cheese boards have been put away, lots of us are trying to forge habits for 2020 that will be kinder on the environment and our bodies…

Yes, Veganuary is back, and we’ve been scouring Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire for the most delicious vegan meals to give you the kind of meat-free indulgence you need this January. Hopefully you’ll agree this is proof that vegan food isn’t all about bland salads and nut roast.

There’s a different spot to try for each week in January to keep you motivated – tag #staffordshiresauce on social media to let us know how you get on!

Week 1: The Roebuck, Leek

Now the warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas has disappeared, we’ve been left with a cold January chill. Enjoy some heat with the Spicy Bean Burger at The Roebuck in Leek. Served in a Live Love Loaf bun, the spicy bean burger comes with iceberg lettuce, tomato & red onion and is served with skin on fries and relish. Who knew vegan food could be so flavoursome, eh?

Week 2: An Apple a Day, Stone

If you’re looking for a clean, light lunch, head over to An Apple a Day on Stone High Street. Everything on the menu has vegan alternatives and a selection of breads so you can personalise your perfect sandwich. Our favourite is We’ve Got the Beet!, which features beetroot, carrot, hummus and avocado. And if you want to give your body a little extra lovin’ after all those Christmas choccies, try one of their delicious homemade juices. We’re obsessed with the Russet Reboot – a blend of beetroot, red cabbage, carrot, lime and apple.

Week 3: The Slamwich Club, Hanley

If you’re a fan of pork and are missing the pigs-in-blankets already, you’ll love The Slamwich Club’s Not-So-Porkie-Pig Slamwich. Enjoy BBQ jackfruit, vegan cheese, potato and onion rosti, vegan sausage and rawslaw between two pieces of locally sourced artisan bread. Plus, you can get 3 for 2 on sides! We adore the Rings of Fire (crispy peri-peri battered onion rings), Polenta-ee of Fries (herby polenta bites with truffle mayo) and Caulipower (tempura cauliflower bites served with jalapeño mayo – pictured). Free onion rings, you say?! Yes please.

Week 4: UVC, Lichfield

If you’re looking for a great restaurant which serves only vegan food look no further than Lichfield’s Ultimate Vegan Cafe. We love the Nofish cakes, made with smoked tofu, potatoes and seaweed, carefully wrapped in breadcrumbs and served with salad. If you’re particularly hungry, we would recommend the Ultimate Moving Mountain Burger, served with chips, slaw, salad and topped with onion rings… it’s a beast! Plus they’re offering 10% off all main dishes during January.

Week 5: The Orange Tree, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Craving a curry to get you through thee longest month of the year? Say no more. Head to The Orange Tree and enjoy sweet potato fritters with katsu curry sauce, baby gem & radish salad and steamed coconut rice. The oriental flavours will have you dreaming about warmer days and will definitely have you cruising through the final week of Veganuary.

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Michelin unites local businesses for a good cause

Sauce caught up with Mike Lawton, Head of Global Marketing and Communications – Brand Licensing, at Michelin to find out more about the company’s 2019 charity dinner in aid of…

Sauce caught up with Mike Lawton, Head of Global Marketing and Communications – Brand Licensing, at Michelin to find out more about the company’s 2019 charity dinner in aid of Dougie Mac. Click here to watch our behind-the-scenes video.

The sell-out event took place on Monday 21 October at World of Wedgwood in Barlaston, following on from the success of the first dinner back in October 2018. You can read more about the origins of the Michelin charity dinner in the Autumn 2019 edition of Sauce magazine, but we chatted with Mike to find out more about the success of the most recent event.

Rob Palmer smoked eel dish

Through ticket sales, along with the auction and raffle on the night, the event raised more than £60,000 to support Dougie Mac’s work providing end of life care across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. It was made possible by Michelin (whose employees chose Dougie Mac as the Stoke site’s charity of the year and volunteered to provide table service on the evening), World of Wedgwood (who provided the venue), J&J Wines (who supplied the wine pairing), and the two visiting chefs and their teams.

In the kitchen at World of Wedgwood this year were John Williams MBE, executive chef at The Ritz London, and Rob Palmer, head chef of Peel’s Restaurant at Hampton Manor – both Michelin starred chefs.

“It was a fantastic honour to bring such names up to Stoke-on-Trent in support of the charity,” says Mike. “Frankly, the two chefs and their teams were amazing. Of course I was expecting to see Rob Palmer and John Williams when I arrived, but I wasn’t expecting that John would have brought Spencer Metzger along too.”

Chef John Williams MBE

Spencer won the prestigious and highly competitive Roux Scholarship this year. Past winners in the scholarship’s 35 year history have included Andrew Fairlie, Sat Bains and Simon Hulstone, along with many others who have gone on to create starred restaurants in their own right. Also in the kitchen from Peel’s was Monty Stonehewer, a contestant on the current series of MasterChef: The Professionals. As Mike explains, the amazing level of talent working in unison in the kitchen was a key factor contributing to a fantastic evening of food and fundraising.

“I believe Dougie Mac were truly thrilled with the evening,” he expands. “The people that I spoke to said it was one of the best fundraising events they’ve attended and the results would suggest that as well. We’ve not had one single negative comment. There’s nothing more pleasing than seeing lots of happy, smiling faces at the end of the night and having achieved a fantastic objective for the hospice.”

Beef tournedos by John Williams MBE

Having proved such a success last year, this year’s dinner had sold out a month beforehand. The lucky guests enjoyed snacks and canapés, followed by five mouthwatering courses including a lobster, carrot and lemon verbena starter from John and a smoked eel, kohlrabi and sea herb dish by Rob.

“The feedback from the chefs was tremendous,” says Mike. “I’ve had some lovely emails from John, Rob and their teams. Their experience and skills made it a really successful and unique event. World of Wedgwood were delighted to be a part of it too. Their involvement in donating the use of the dining room, kitchen and all the beautiful tabletop items is pivotal in putting on the event. It depends on a lot of factors, but if everything lines up correctly, there’s no reason we couldn’t do it again next year. And yes, I have already been asked about next year!”

Michelin UK employees

Mike’s colleagues at the Michelin Guide have also been delighted with the positive outcome of the event. So delighted, in fact, that the model is set to be shared so it can be rolled out across the world in the 38 countries where the Michelin Guide currently exists.

“It’s hard work because there are 150 people to serve, but the Michelin and World of Wedgwood employees who took part really enjoyed it. It was great to see Craig and the front of house team from Hampton Manor training them and giving them the confidence to deliver the food in such a great way. You’ve only got to look at some of the pictures to see how engaged everyone was.

“Last year we had around 20 volunteers; this year we had 37. That tells you the kind of reputation the event has got after such a short time. We had some employees from World of Wedgwood volunteer to take part too, so it was a great coming-together.”

For Mike, that’s what the event is all about.

“Once again we’ve proved what local businesses coming together can achieve,” he concludes. “The collective activity of Michelin, World of Wedgwood and all of the other businesses that were involved is much, much greater than any of us individually could achieve on our own.

“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for believing in the concept and for supporting us and Dougie Mac. For them, the fact that almost £60,000 could be raised in a single night is really very meaningful.”

Watch our video for a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the dinner.

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Michelin Dinner: John Williams & Rob Palmer at World of Wedgwood

Chefs John Williams MBE and Rob Palmer will be in Stoke-on-Trent this autumn for the Michelin Dinner 2019, raising money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice. Two fantastic Michelin starred chefs…

Chefs John Williams MBE and Rob Palmer will be in Stoke-on-Trent this autumn for the Michelin Dinner 2019, raising money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

Two fantastic Michelin starred chefs will prepare a 5 course tasting menu for 150 lucky guests in the stunning World of Wedgwood Tea Room at Barlaston on Monday 21 October. Coordinated by Michelin, whose UK headquarters are nearby on Campbell Road, the dinner is a fundraiser on behalf of Michelin employees’ chosen charity of the year.

Every pound raised will help Dougie Mac to continue providing priceless end of life care, free of charge, to people across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Starting at 6.30pm, this special event gives Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire foodies the chance to enjoy a night celebrating exceptional food as well as the power of local businesses to work together to do good.

In the kitchen on 21 October will be two Michelin-starred chefs and their brigades. John Williams MBE has been executive chef at The Ritz London for the last 15 years, winning numerous industry accolades, and readers may recognise him from the TV documentary Inside the Ritz Hotel. Also soon to be seen on Channel 4’s Great Hotel Escape is Hampton Manor, where head chef Rob Palmer won his first Michelin star in 2016 at Peel’s Restaurant.

There will be some phenomenal prizes up for grabs in a charity auction on the evening too, including some practically priceless foodie experiences.

Last year, the first dinner raised £50,000 for the Donna Louise Trust. Stoke-on-Trent born chefs Niall Keating and Simon Hulstone treated diners to dishes including duck liver parfait, smoked duck and pickled cauliflower with windfall apple purée, and beef fillet with fermented lettuces, horseradish and dill.

Stoke-on-Trent foodies won’t want to miss out on this unique event. A few tickets are still available at the time of writing. At £175 per person they include a welcome drink on arrival, 5 course tasting menu and accompanying wine flight.

Go to the Dougie Mac website to book.

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Meynell Ingram Arms welcomes new executive chef

Matthew McKinley has joined the team at The Meynell Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross as Executive Chef. The rural Staffordshire pub and restaurant reopened after extensive refurbishment in May –…

Matthew McKinley has joined the team at The Meynell Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross as Executive Chef. The rural Staffordshire pub and restaurant reopened after extensive refurbishment in May – read our review here if you haven’t already.   

Matthew began his career in some of Northern Ireland’s finest restaurants, cutting his teeth with Northern Ireland’s first Michelin starred chef, Paul Rankin, at Paul’s signature restaurant Roscoff.  He later continued to develop his skills at Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast.

After spending time cooking in Thailand, Matthew lived in Australia for four years, developing his own style and refining his technique. He returned to Northern Ireland in 2016, where he worked as Head Chef at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, which was awarded Northern Ireland’s AA Hotel of the Year 2017 during his time there. He recently moved to the Midlands to be with his fiancé.

“I’m delighted to have Matthew joining us; his wealth of experience in leading culinary environments will be a fabulous asset for The Meynell,” said Berkeley Inns’ Managing Director Howard Thacker.

“Customers are becoming constantly more discerning and demanding of authenticity. ‘World’ food is increasingly popular, and our menus feature dishes originating from all points of the globe.

“Matthew’s worldwide experience will facilitate our ability to deliver the authenticity required within these dishes.

“I’m really excited to see Matthew developing The Meynell menu over the coming months and hope and expect our customers will be delighted with the results.”

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Sunday Homework Sessions launch at The Boat Inn

On Sunday 1 September, Liam Dillon and the team at The Boat Inn will launch an innovative new concept – Sunday Homework Sessions – where the kitchen team will be…

On Sunday 1 September, Liam Dillon and the team at The Boat Inn will launch an innovative new concept – Sunday Homework Sessions – where the kitchen team will be creating new dishes based around a different ingredient each weekend. 

A select number of guests will play the role of critics while taking part in a dining experience quite out of the ordinary. The chefs’ original dishes and flavour combinations may or may not make it onto the menu, depending on your feedback.

Every Sunday, a small number of guests will be invited to dine at the chef’s table in order to help the kitchen team with their ‘homework’, tasting new flavours and plates, and giving their honest feedback on the different dishes served.

Developing dishes without constraints or limitations is something many chefs relish the chance to do. The Sunday Homework Sessions will give them the opportunity to do just that. Each chef in the team will be challenged to dig deep and channel their inner creativity, playing with fresh ingredients in order to produce plates of food that showcase their abilities. Only those that meet the diners’ critical approval will have the chance to win a coveted place on one of The Boat’s menus.

Tickets for the Sunday Homework Sessions are just £15 each and can be purchased through their website. Starting at 6pm, guests will be treated to a number of small plates throughout the evening, and each asked for their thoughts whilst trying a myriad of different combinations.

The first Sunday Homework Session will be on Sunday 1 September. Follow The Boat Inn on Instagram to see the focus ingredient revealed.

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Little Seeds 2.0 is coming soon

Popular Stone restaurant Little Seeds will shut its doors for a week at the end of August as the eatery receives a makeover to give it a fresh new look….

Popular Stone restaurant Little Seeds will shut its doors for a week at the end of August as the eatery receives a makeover to give it a fresh new look.

After opening its doors in June 2016, the restaurant has flourished in a town which is quickly becoming known as the foodie capital of Staffordshire. The team recently celebrated their third anniversary and are now gearing up to create a new dining environment to better reflect their ever evolving menu and ethos of using the best seasonal produce in the UK.

Owners Sophie and Jake describe the changes as ‘Little Seeds 2.0’. They hope to take the popular restaurant to a new level, developing an experience that all their customers can enjoy.

Alongside the fresh new look, they will be launching a new menu – ‘A Taste of Little Seeds’ – that’s been designed to provide guests with a fresh dining experience and the chance to try more of what Little Seeds can offer. The Taste menu will be running alongside their current à la carte menu on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The restaurant will be closed from Monday 26 August until Tuesday 3 September for the refresh. In the meantime, you can still view the summer menus and book your table via the Little Seeds website.

You can also follow @littleseedsstone on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date with the team and news of the refurb.

Little Seeds strawberry trifle

Photos: Matthew Owen Photography

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Strong Staffordshire showing in Great Taste Awards 2019

No fewer than 40 food and drink products from Staffordshire companies made the list of winners in this year’s Great Taste Awards. The Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild…

No fewer than 40 food and drink products from Staffordshire companies made the list of winners in this year’s Great Taste Awards.

The Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. More than 500 judges, including food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, buyers, retailers and producers as well as specially trained food writers, blind-taste each of the entries in teams of three or four.

The one star award is for products judged to have fantastic flavour. Two stars mean the judges dubbed it above and beyond delicious, while the three star award means the product was described as ‘extraordinarily tasty’.

Out of 12,772 products sent in from more than 100 countries, 40 from the county received awards this year. Staffordshire producers featured range from long-established businesses like Packington Free Range and Cottage Delight (both with more than five products on the list of winners) to relative newcomers like Sead Foods, who achieved two stars for their sesame butter, and Trotting Potter Salts, whose pastis salt was also awarded two stars.

The Pie Life, based in Tean, won five awards for their luxury pies, including two stars for the roast lamb and mint. Suncream Dairies picked up five awards for various flavours of their Gelato Lusso range, while Mr Trotter, Jeyel’s Foods, Midland Snacks, Just Crisps, Zago and Judy’s House Foods were also recognised by the judges. 

Among independents previously featured in Sauce magazine, Seed Chocolate and The Good Life Meat Company also received accolades. Seed’s 75% Peruvian Yapatera dark chocolate won two stars, as did The Good Life Meat Company’s Organic Longhorn Bresaola.

Other winners include street food favourites The English Indian, for their mint and chilli mushy peas, and Stone-based Lee Walker Family Butchers, for their champion pork pie. Nelson’s Timur Gin was one of only three Staffordshire products to walk away with the coveted three stars. 

The Great Taste Awards 2019 will conclude on Sunday 1 September, when the Great Taste Golden Fork trophy winners for each region will be revealed, with final applause reserved for the Great Taste Supreme Champion 2019. 

You can view a list of all the winners on the Great Taste website.

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Have a Just Perfect evening at BEAR Stone

If you’re a fan of fizz, get yourself down to BEAR on Stone High Street this summer for an evening with an expert. BEAR have teamed up with Julia from…

If you’re a fan of fizz, get yourself down to BEAR on Stone High Street this summer for an evening with an expert.

BEAR have teamed up with Julia from Just Perfect Wines – the prosecco and sparkling wine specialists – to host their first prosecco tasting experience on Friday 9 August, starting at 7pm and running until around 9.30-10pm.

Julia, who owns Just Perfect Wines and featured in the Autumn/Winter 2018 edition of Sauce magazine, is extremely knowledgeable and keen to share her passion for prosecco and sparkling wines. She’ll be running the evening from the cosy mezzanine in BEAR’s Stone store.

Guests will receive a glass of bubbles on arrival, and then have time to settle into the mezzanine space before tasting a series of five different proseccos. Julia will talk through the origins of each and the processes that are involved in making them. Each wine will be carefully paired with a menu of special canapés made in-house by BEAR’s kitchen team.

Bottles of all the sparkling wines sampled on the evening will also be available to buy.

Tickets are priced at £25 per person and you can book your place via Eventbrite today.

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Midlands’ best restaurant launches Versus Supper Clubs

The Boat Inn at Muckley Corner, Lichfield, took Best Fine Dining Restaurant at The Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards 2019, while head chef Liam Dillon walked away with Best Chef for…

The Boat Inn at Muckley Corner, Lichfield, took Best Fine Dining Restaurant at The Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards 2019, while head chef Liam Dillon walked away with Best Chef for the second consecutive year.

Liam DillonThe fourth Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards was hosted at Villa Park on Monday 24 June, and saw the movers and shakers of the food, drink and hospitality industry from across Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands come together for an evening of celebration. Liam Dillon and his restaurant were flying the flag for Staffordshire as the only representatives of the county to walk away with awards on the night.

Liam has recently launched his new Versus Supper Club series which will see guest chefs go head-to-head against him in The Boat’s open kitchen. The next event is an evening with Kray Treadwell – former head chef of Michelin-starred The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds who was recently part of Great British Menu 2019 – on Monday 15 July.

The chefs create rival six-course menus and guests get a score card to track whose dishes are their favourite with the winner revealed at the end of the night. Tickets for each supper club are £75 per person, with a donation from each sale going to the guest chef’s chosen charity.

The Versus Supper Club line-up for the next six months looks like this:

Kray Treadwell – Monday 15 July

Bruce Cheyne, head chef at Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield – Monday 12 August

Tom Shepherd, head chef of Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham – Monday 23 September

Will Holland, executive head chef at The Atlantic, Jersey – Monday 7 October

Matt Cheal, head chef of Cheal’s of Henley – Monday 18 November

Louisa Ellis, MasterChef finalist and private chef – Monday 9 December

 To book tickets for any of these events, go to: theboatinnlichfield.com

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