Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

New era for The Viceroy

Wednesday 25 July saw the launch of a new menu at The Viceroy Restaurant in Milford, on the edge of Cannock Chase, and Sauce were lucky enough to be invited…

Wednesday 25 July saw the launch of a new menu at The Viceroy Restaurant in Milford, on the edge of Cannock Chase, and Sauce were lucky enough to be invited along.

At this fine dining Indian restaurant near Stafford chef-director Ain Ullah creates imaginative dishes using the finest local produce, with reference to a rich Indian and Bangladeshi culinary heritage.

A six-course taster menu allowed guests to savour the flavours of a number of dishes from the new selection, all cooked to order using seasonal, locally sourced fresh ingredients. Proceeds from the night were generously donated to Katharine House Hospice.

House of Townend, the Yorkshire-based family-owned wine merchants, have hand selected the finest wines from across the world to complement each dish on The Viceroy’s new menu, and there’s also a comprehensive gin menu for pre-dinner drinks.

The launch of the new menu is the first step in an exciting new era for The Viceroy, where the team is hoping to be awarded an AA Rosette and to feature in the 2019 Michelin Guide.

In order to meet the exacting standards of the AA, the management have invested in a new state of the art Unox Oven and new crockery and cutlery, the like of which is found in Michelin starred restaurants across the world, from Schott Zwiesel wine glasses to Fortessa tableware.

There are also plans afoot to build a 20-cover private dining room to the rear of the restaurant. This room, featuring a wall of handpicked wines from around the globe, will allow guests to book a taster menu dinner attended by their own personal butler. As well, The Viceroy plans to hold exclusive cookery demonstrations with chef-director Ullah.

The Viceroy Restaurant
8 Brocton Rd, Milford, Stafford ST17 0UH
www.viceroyrestaurant.co.uk

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You can now Forage at Coppice

A peaceful lane just outside Middleton in the southeastern corner of Staffordshire is where you’ll find Forage at Coppice. Founded in 2012 by the Smith family, Coppice has grown to…

A peaceful lane just outside Middleton in the southeastern corner of Staffordshire is where you’ll find Forage at Coppice.

Founded in 2012 by the Smith family, Coppice has grown to become home to The Fig & Olive restaurant, a florist, a spa and a homeware shop. The newest addition to the Coppice offering is the Forage Food Hall.

While the doors to Forage opened for the first time on Wednesday 6 June, Sauce went along to join the team for their grand opening on Saturday 30 June.

Born from a passion for great food and drink – one which we very much share here at Sauce – Forage has been set up with the aim of assembling under one roof some of the finest fresh produce from across Britain.  

With plenty of fabulous suppliers in store, you will be able to taste some delicious produce and learn the perfect accompaniments to dishes. There were over 20 suppliers in attendance from both Coppice and Forage, offering samples of everything from artisan baked goods to free range meats, unusual cheeses and seasonal fruits. There was also a butchery demonstration in front of the in-store dry-ageing cabinet.

Visitors to Forage can take home fine food and drink from passionate local producers and enjoy freshly made goods from the Butchery, Bakery and Deli counters. As well as a vast array of wines, spirits and ales, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses and cut meats, there’s also beautiful patisserie from The Patisserie Box of Cheltenham, and freshly baked artisan bread from The Bread Collection at Knowle.

Representing Staffordshire in the food hall are producers including R W Leedham & Son at Syerscote Manor. Their flock of 200 Lleyn x Suffolk sheep are crossed with Charolais rams and fed a home-grown mix of oats, barley and beans before being put out to pasture to produce excellent lamb, available from Forage.

You’ll also find great quality meat from Packington Free Range at Barton-under-Needwood on the butchery counter. The Mercer family’s low density, environmentally conscious approach to farming and high welfare standards have earned their products a reputation for quality that extends well beyond Staffordshire’s borders.

Well worth a visit if you are a fan of fresh produce and fine dining, Forage at Coppice is open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturdays 9am to 5.30pm and Sundays from 10am to 4.30pm.

Forage at Coppice Garden Centre
Coppice Lane
Middleton, B78 2BU
www.facebook.com/pg/ForageatCoppice

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Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap opens its doors

The latest independent business to join Hanley’s burgeoning food and drink scene is Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap on Piccadilly. Right in the heart of the Cultural Quarter and directly opposite…

The latest independent business to join Hanley’s burgeoning food and drink scene is Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap on Piccadilly.

Right in the heart of the Cultural Quarter and directly opposite The Slamwich Club, which opened just a couple of months ago, Mart’s Brewhouse welcomed us with floor-length windows and a great atmosphere for its launch night on 22 June.

Sauce grabbed a few minutes from a very busy evening with Holly, who launched Mart’s Craft Beer with husband and head brewer Will back in January 2017. Originally a venture between Will and his brother, the name is in memory of their late dad.

Inspired by a trip to New York six years ago, where the craft beer scene had recently exploded, Will and Holly couldn’t find anything similar back home in Stoke-on-Trent, and so began to brew their own ales at home. They later graduated to a 1000 litre kit in an industrial unit in Knutton, selling at makers’ markets and local outlets like BottleCraft, Klay and The Hopwater Cellar while still working full time.

“The Brewhouse and Tap was just a tiny idea we had that we thought we’d do eventually – it’s happened quite a lot quicker than we thought it would!” says Holly.

Holly and Will brought Jason Barlow and Sue Grocott on board with the new venture, bringing an invaluable 20 years of experience in running bars and keeping a good cellar. Call in and you’ll be faced with a choice of 8 cask ales as well as craft and continental beers – not to mention a selection of gins and wines.

With a fresh but traditional pub feel and windows directly onto the gleaming brewery in the downstairs bar area, it’s taken a great deal of hard work to transform the building, which was empty for around four years. Most recently it housed Club International, but it seems the bold colour scheme was inherited from one of its previous incarnations as a tapas restaurant.

Going from a one barrel to a barrel brewery means the team will be able to keep the five core brews on the go – a pale ale, an IPA, a marzipan stout, a porter and an IPA brewed with tea – while also allowing room to be more adventurous.

“The good thing about us having the bigger brewery is we can start to experiment a lot more with different hops and other ingredients,” Holly explains. “The craft beer market is driven by choice – people want lots of choice and you have to be constantly changing.”

Although a kitchen is not on the cards in the near future, customers are welcome to order from neighbours like Klay and Slamwich Club and eat while they drink – a great example of local businesses supporting each other.

“I’ve lived in Hanley for nearly 10 years now,” Holly adds. “In the last 18 months or so this stretch has really opened up. The more little businesses come, the more people it will bring to the area.”

Plan are in the works to build a stage on the spacious first floor to host live bands, comedy nights, acoustic sets and so on. Brewery tours and brew-your-own masterclasses are also in the pipeline.

While Will’s looking forward to brewing on the new kit for the first time this week, the team are also keen to support other budding home brewers having fun with their own creations. The winner of a Potteries Home Brew Club competition will be along in August to brew his winning beer on the Mart’s kit.

Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap
66-68 Piccadilly
Hanley, ST1 1HX
www.facebook.com/martscraftbeer/

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A chocolate lover’s paradise

Tucked away in Getliffe’s Yard, Leek, is Misco’s. Megan Walmsley-Pitts and Francisco Davies set up their business, specialising in handmade chocolates and truffles, after wowing family and friends with their…

Tucked away in Getliffe’s Yard, Leek, is Misco’s. Megan Walmsley-Pitts and Francisco Davies set up their business, specialising in handmade chocolates and truffles, after wowing family and friends with their homemade treats.

From the very start the pair have insisted on keeping their products free from artificial preservatives, despite the pressure to extend shelf-life. Because the chocolates only keep for between 2-3 weeks, Francisco and Megan have to make fresh stock every day.

“The taste and vibrancy come from the freshness,” explains Francisco. “It’s made it harder for us, so we have to work that much harder.”

Their chocolate is sourced from all over the world – Colombia, Venezuela, Tanzania – and is available to buy if you would like to use it in your own cooking, as well as going into ganaches.

“Depending on where it’s been grown you get different subtleties of flavour,” Megan says. “You can get really peaty, smoky, earthy or tropical fruit flavours.”

So what’s popular with the good people of the Staffordshire Moorlands?

“We probably sell double the number of salted caramel chocolates compared to anything else,”reveals Francisco. “But people definitely have their favourites; they’ll come in and wipe us out of a particular flavour.”

Among their more unusual creations is a new rosemary, olive oil and Himalayan pink salt chocolate. Cherry vodka was added to the range on customer request, but port and stilton is one combination that hasn’t made it.

“It’s about more than just food, having a shop,” says Megan. “You’re in the community. We’ve accidentally ended up being a luxury brand because we’re using the best ingredients, but we’re real with it and that’s important.”

Misco’s Chocolates
19 Getliffe’s Yard
Leek, ST13 6HU
www.miscoschocolates.co.uk

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Sit back, relax and watch the world pass by

Café culture is most definitely thriving in Staffordshire, whether it be on the high street, tucked down a cobbled alleyway or nestled in a courtyard down a high-hedged country lane….

Café culture is most definitely thriving in Staffordshire, whether it be on the high street, tucked down a cobbled alleyway or nestled in a courtyard down a high-hedged country lane. We’ve selected just a few of the county’s favourite places for coffee and cake.


The Cakery

Launched quietly in November last year by mother and daughter team Jackie and Harriet Gallimore, the cafe is sited just off Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Ironmarket. The selection of mouthwatering homebaked cakes varies from day-to-day, and breakfast items like pastries, Staffordshire oatcakes and eggs Benedict are also available. The lunch menu features favourites like local lobby, quiche and soup. Dogs are more than welcome at The Cakery, too.

3 Fogg St, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 2RE
www.facebook.com/thecakeryh


The Artisan

Independent local coffee shop on Eccleshall’s pretty High Street serves up quiche, paninis and rolls alongside quality coffee, big slices of homemade cake and speciality scones, all while you’re treated to their eclectic music mix. The Artisan prides itself on sourcing as much stock as possible from Staffordshire suppliers.

14 High St, Eccleshall, Stafford, ST21 6BZ
http://theartisaneccleshall.business.site


15 on the Corner

Proud to serve artisan locally roasted coffee from Has Bean alongside tea from Waterloo Tea, based in Cardiff. A small but well-executed menu of home cooked food is available, including delicious cakes. The cafe is fully licensed so you can also enjoy craft beers, wine, gin and cocktails.

15 Bore St, Lichfield, WS13 6LZ
www.twitter.com/15onthecorner


Cobwebs Coffee Shop

Established November 2012, this hidden gem sits in a cosy red brick building on a farmyard just outside Abbots Bromley. Homemade vegetable soups are on offer and every day brings a fresh cake, with flavour combinations including raspberry and white chocolate, toffee and walnut, hazelnut praline and baked chocolate mousse cake.

Goose Lane, Abbots Bromley, Rugeley, WS15 3DB
www.facebook.com/Cobwebs-471667122892228


The Grove Coffee House and Kitchen

In a peaceful and secluded spot overlooking St Mary’s Church, the family-run Grove Coffee House and Kitchen is a great place to savour a latte or a lunchtime meal. Welcoming staff go out of their way to treat you as a friend rather than a customer, and they serve homemade scones in flavours like fruit, wholemeal and date, or cheddar and smoky bacon. The Grove also caters for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.

9 St Mary’s Grove, Stafford, ST16 2AT
www.facebook.com/The-Grove-Coffee-House-and-Kitchen-480971155330500

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Drink Aware

When it comes to alcohol, many of us are drinking less, less frequently, these days. According to market researchers IWSR, global sales of alcohol dropped 1.4% in 2016, with beer…

When it comes to alcohol, many of us are drinking less, less frequently, these days.

According to market researchers IWSR, global sales of alcohol dropped 1.4% in 2016, with beer taking a big hit. However, there’s a corresponding demand for better products when we do indulge.

There’s a thirst for more high-quality drinks made with the best ingredients.

Whilst as consumers we are spending less on alcohol we are demanding better quality products for our money.

We’re also getting more adventurous, and brands are making the most of this by finding ways to stand out with interesting flavours and innovative hybrids. Wild and foraged ingredients continue to be popular, and ‘botanical beers’ are a growing trend, with the likes of tree bark and mushrooms featuring in ingredient lists.

Wellness is another factor here, with low and no alcohol drinks coming to the fore. More and more of us are cutting down our alcohol consumption, particularly younger people.

Low alcohol wines and beers, shandies, spritzes and even ‘spirits’ are constantly being launched. Brands are also increasing vegan, organic and gluten free offerings – Skinny Booze’s vegan lager, for example, is low-calorie, low-fat and low-sugar.

Craft and heritage has been the leading force for a while now, but now that the movement is firmly established brewers and mixologists are taking the opportunity to be more adventurous and playful. They’re not to everyone’s taste, but so-called pastry stouts flavoured with everything from cacao nibs to blueberry cheesecake are becoming more popular.

Many brewers and distillers are creating limited edition brews and spirits and embarking on collaborations, as in the case of Forest Gin’s Earl Grey Gin or Fifth Spire’s Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur. This creativity is extending into category crossovers – like Jameson’s aged in beer barrels, Glenfiddich’s Winter Storm whisky aged in Canadian ice wine barrels, or vintners such as Chapel Down creating their own gin and vodka.

Social media is a game changer for cocktails, with statement serveware and stylised garnishes appearing everywhere. Take The Dial at Burton-on-Trent’s rhubarb and custard cocktail – made with a limited edition local Nelson’s Gin and served up in a Bird’s custard container.

Prosecco is enjoying huge popularity and other drinks are looking to cash in on this surge – sparkling rose cider, sparkling beer and sparkling Pinot Grigio in a can are just some of the fizzy products launched recently.

The key takeaways for alcohol producers and retailers are to be bold and think big – not necessarily within conventional boundaries. If you can also make your product fun and interesting, and tie it into the wellness trend, then so much the better.

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Cocktails to go

Operating out of Tamworth, this mobile cocktail bar is housed in a converted Rice horse trailer. Ben and Nicky are the husband and wife team behind Trailer Made Cocktails. They…

Operating out of Tamworth, this mobile cocktail bar is housed in a converted Rice horse trailer.

Ben and Nicky are the husband and wife team behind Trailer Made Cocktails. They created the trailer bar to enable them to take classic cocktails and carefully chosen small batch spirits on the road. The pair work in close concert with various craft distilleries and up-and-coming brands so that customers have the opportunity to sample exciting new drinks.

Matching the vintage look of the sage green and cream trailer with the theme of a contemporary speakeasy, the couple installed solid wood bar tops and feature wallpaper. The look and approach have established the mobile business as a popular choice for weddings and events across southern Staffordshire and beyond.

Trailer Made specialise in bespoke drinks packages for weddings. Despite their primary offering being based around cocktails, gin and rum, they are extremely flexible. A pr-selected range of wines, craft beers, ciders, mocktails and soft drinks can also be arranged if need be.

If you don’t have the excuse of a wedding to hire them, Nicky and Ben are more than happy to bring the fun to you with a personalised tasting event in the comfort of your home, holiday cottage or other location of your choosing.

Their Instagram feed is a great source of inspiration for cocktail recipes, but to try one of their creations first hand you could do worse than head to the next Lichfield Grub Club on the last Wednesday of the month.

www.trailermadecocktails.co.uk

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Spout Brew House

Spout Brew House, 70 St Edward St, Leek, ST13 5DL www.spoutbrewhouse.co.uk It’s a bright afternoon when we take a stroll down to the bottom of Edward Street in Leek. Looking…

Spout Brew House, 70 St Edward St, Leek, ST13 5DL
www.spoutbrewhouse.co.uk

It’s a bright afternoon when we take a stroll down to the bottom of Edward Street in Leek. Looking welcoming and cosy, Spout Brew House is nestled between Odeon Antiques and what we can only assume is its namesake, Spout Hall.

With eye-catching signage by traditional canal boat painter Phil Speight and a tungsten glow through the big old windows, this cafe-bar-gallery is certainly not lacking in kerb appeal.

The first thing that draws your attention when you enter is the fantastic array of home-baked cakes under glass on the counter top. Victoria sponge, chocolate pizza slices and blood orange sponge were just a few of the options, all of which come from the upstairs kitchen.

Busy but not rushed

People-watchers will covet the stools in the window and there are some appealing nooks and crannies if you prefer a bit more privacy, but you have to be quick off the mark to catch either, especially of a weekend. Grabbing one of the smaller tables in the hallway, we watched more than a few people come and go for lack of seating. Footfall in this passageway wasn’t a bother, though.

It’s an informal set-up; you order at the counter, where the staff were very busy but always helpful and friendly. We were warned that food orders were taking a little while, and only waited around 20 minutes – not unreasonable at lunchtime on a Saturday.

The cinnamon latte smelled like heaven. Atkinson’s Teas and Has Bean Coffee are also on offer, plus a range of alcoholic drinks including four guest ales on tap. There’s artwork for sale by local artists and a wall dedicated to craft beer and spirit sales, known as The Bottle Lab.

Satisfy your palate and pocket

Although tempted by the beetroot falafel Buddha bowl special, we went for the avocado toast. Mashed with white beans and basil, the Spout take was tastier than the plain avocado you find elsewhere. Topped with a perfectly poached, golden yolked egg and a slice of halloumi for an extra pound and a hint of saltiness, the Skandi rye bread toast was delicious. A sprinkle of sesame seeds and sunflower hearts added some texture and a nice finishing touch. While the beetroot in the side salad was a little dry, the grated carrot dusted with poppy seeds was simple and really satisfying.

Spout’s eclectic decor features a modern palette of dark grey and aqua blue with bright, quirky accessories and mismatched furniture. The scheme stays sympathetic to the lovely old building, with the original black and white tiles, quarry tiles and stained glass window in the toilet upstairs.

Overall, this friendly cafe provides great value for money, wholesome freshly cooked food and a welcoming spot to relax in a thriving market town.

Coffee and cake from £3.50
Lunch from £3.95-£6.95
Dog friendly
Garden seating area

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Eating for Wellbeing

Thankfully, fad diets and extreme nutrition plans are looking more and more like a thing of the past. What we are seeing now is reflective of healthier attitudes towards food,…

Thankfully, fad diets and extreme nutrition plans are looking more and more like a thing of the past.

What we are seeing now is reflective of healthier attitudes towards food, with an increasing emphasis on eating and drinking for wellness rather than weight control. Better understanding of how our food and drink choices impact our bodies, especially our brains, is driving a more mindful approach to consumption.

It’s not just our physical health that’s affected by what we eat. Changing your diet can improve your mood, increase your energy levels and help you think more clearly, according to mental health charity Mind.

Body and mind

Blood sugar: You can feel anxious, irritable or even depressed if your blood sugar dips. Maintain steady levels by eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly.

Vitamins and minerals: Eating lots of colourful fruit and veg every day means you get the range of nutrients needed to support healthy brain function. Himalayan salt blocks are more widely available now, and help bring out the flavours of food while also containing natural minerals.

Fluids and fibre: Feeling stressed can make your gut speed up or slow down. Get plenty of fibre, fluids and regular exercise to keep it in good working order.

Good fats and nootropics: Oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocados and dairy products contain fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 which keep your brain healthy. Nootropics – substances that can improve creativity, memory and motivation – are also a hot food trend at the moment, with powdered mushrooms one of the more unusual products to come on the market.

Look out for…

Buddha bowls: Not only will they look good on your Instagram feed, if they’re made right these food bowls are nutritious complete meals, featuring grains, veg, healthy fat, protein and greens. Look out for brightly coloured fruit acai bowls and trendy Hawaiian-inspired poke bowls too.

Fresh produce boxes: Make it easy to cook using fresh, seasonal produce by getting it straight to your door. Walkers Farmshop in Stoke-on-Trent supply a range of vegetable, fruit, salad and mixed bags, while Green Fields Farm deliver to some Stafford postcodes.

Turmeric: Touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is one of the most colourful food trends of the moment. Get your fix with RAWR’s turmeric golden milk, or replace your tea or coffee at home with one of at least four different instant turmeric lattes now on the market.

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Chef Interview – Jake Lowndes

Jake Lowndes, 29, is head chef at Little Seeds in Stone, which he co-owns with restaurant manager and partner Sophie Hardman. The pair launched their bar and kitchen on Radford…

Jake Lowndes, 29, is head chef at Little Seeds in Stone, which he co-owns with restaurant manager and partner Sophie Hardman.

The pair launched their bar and kitchen on Radford Street in June 2016 and have gone from strength to strength since, building a reputation for fresh, local food at reasonable prices.

Sauce sat down with Jake to find out about the ethos (and the garden) behind Little Seeds, as well as their plans for the future. His favourite food might surprise you, too.

When and why did you decide to become a chef?

I suppose it was my grandma. I used to go to her house and she would make me really nice food, or we would make it together. I didn’t decide there and then to become a chef, but I thought, “I really like food, what can I do with it?”

My first job was at La Dolce Vita in Stone. I started as an apprentice and did my NVQ Levels 2 and 3 on the job. They put me in for Staffordshire Young Chef of the Year in 2008. I ended up coming third. Before then, I didn’t really know much about the world of high-end cookery, so it opened my eyes. I was there for two years and worked my way up to sous chef.

I left to do a ski season in France, which was fun, then came back to David’s Brasserie at Trentham for five years. In the last two years I was finishing my degree in Business at MMU. I left and went to Macclesfield, to a three rosette restaurant then called The Lord Clyde, under Ernst Van Zyl. I learned a lot from him about techniques and flavours. From there, it was Little Seeds.

Who has inspired and influenced you most in your cooking?

I’d say it was a combination of all the people I’ve worked for, to be honest. I’ve taken the best of everything I’ve learned and put it all together. Ernst taught me a lot of new techniques, because he’s quite a modern chef. He likes the Scandinavian style so he taught me a lot of pickling, salt-baking – those old techniques that are coming back. From other chefs I’ve learned management style, organisation and how to run a kitchen.

Where has been your favourite place to work so far?

I’d say David’s Brasserie. It was a nice place to work and everyone there was really nice. The now-owner, then-manager, John is a good guy. He was flexible with me, because I was working full-time while I was at uni. But everywhere I’ve worked has been pretty good.

Tell us about your food philosophy.

As seasonal as possible, to sum it up. We change the menu with the season, and we use local suppliers. We try to get the highest quality local product we can, because it all starts with the product. From the eggs we get down the road for our brunch menu, to the quality of the meat from our local catering butcher, it is really important. Our philosophy is high-quality local ingredients, as seasonal as possible, and mainly British, where we can.

Tell us about your restaurant, Little Seeds.

We’ve evolved organically since we opened. We opened with a more casual style and a narrower offering. Now we’ve evolved to reflect what our customers want at different times of the day and the week. So we’ve got a full brunch menu at the weekend, which people really love. We have a daytime brunch/lunch menu for Wednesday to Saturday. Our new weekday evening menus are more focused and balanced, to allow us to provide high-end, special occasion dishes as well as casual favourites like the buttermilk chicken and burgers.

Every week we write the Sunday lunch menu on Saturday night. You can come all week for the combinations on the menu, but Sunday lunch changes everything up. There’s always a roast on there – usually beef – but suppliers are tricky on a Sunday, so it allows us to offer the best of what we have. Trying out different combinations helps us to make new dishes too.

What would you want your last meal to be?

I’d really like to go to the Fat Duck. That’s my number one. I always go on about that.

If you had to live on one food forever, what would it be?

Just trifle. Trifle’s my favourite thing in the world. A Bird’s trifle, I’ll eat that.

What’s your favourite seasonal ingredient in spring/summer?

I love it when the Staffordshire strawberries come out, because we try to create something new with them every year. Last year it was a strawberry and elderflower jelly – because elderflower is in season at the same time – a strawberry meringue and strawberry sorbet. We get our strawberries from Canalside Farm in Great Haywood – you can pick your own and they’re really good. The wild garlic as well. When the wild garlic comes out everybody gets excited because it’s the start of spring.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Probably something fermented. At Carters of Moseley I had raw kohlrabi injected with cabbage juice. That was pretty weird. The main course was lamb with grass.

Do you get the chance to eat out often? Where’s your go-to place?

We like the Sticky Walnut in Chester. We go there whenever we can because it’s really casual and relaxed but with high quality food – the same thing we’re trying to do at Little Seeds.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

Maybe a roast dinner. We eat that most weeks.

What is your focus for the next year?

To continually evolve Little Seeds in the direction we’re going now. Every service is a lot more refined and focused. Now we need to keep pushing forward and bringing the standard of food up. Last year we started making a sourdough; this year we’re making focaccia as well. We keep evolving the desserts, too.

Since the back end of last year we’re getting busier and busier, and that’s the main thing. I could do stupidly good things that people don’t want to eat and nobody will come – then it’s not fun anymore. Hopefully we’ll keep evolving with our customers, the menu and the team so everyone’s going in the same direction.

We want to double the size of our kitchen garden. Last year we started with some raised beds where we mainly grew herbs. This year I want to build a caterpillar tunnel so we can grow more. We grew lemon verbena and apple marigold that you can’t get from local suppliers. I want to do more of that but with different ingredients, like radishes and tomatoes.

We’re also planning a couple of fun theme nights – maybe a French and a Spanish night. Little Seeds is British and that is great, but sometimes you want to mix it up a bit.

What are your longer term goals?

We want to get this one right and running smoothly first, with the customer base at a level that’s sustainable – knowing it’s going to be busy week on week. Then who knows what we could do? Opportunities could come up. We’ve got concepts. We think Stone needs a great hotel. So many people come here for weddings, events and business; there are lots of decent bars and restaurants in the town but limited places to stay.

We also want to start working with schools to encourage people to be chefs and come into our industry. We would like to do an open evening for Year 11 students and their parents to give them a taster of what we do. It’s not like Ramsay where we shout at you. It can be a rewarding career if you can get over the unsociable hours. Our weekends are Monday and Tuesday instead of Saturday and Sunday. The most annoying thing is all the restaurants we want to visit are closed!

Little Seeds
16-18 Radford Street,
Stone, ST15 8DA
Tel. 01785 818925
www.littleseedsstone.co.uk

Photo Credit: Matthew Owen Photography

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