Could local schoolchildren be the next award-winning chefs?
Rowsley in the Peak District is celebrating once again as two of its best known local restaurants have taken both top spots in this year’s Derbyshire ‘Restaurant of the Year’ Awards. As finalists and a highly commended establishment once again, this recognition crowns a hugely successful year for East Lodge, that included the ‘Great Rowsley Menu’, culminating in the hotel winning gold at the recent East Midlands tourism awards and signing a major sponsorship deal with local tourist board Visit Peak District and Derbyshire.
The annual ‘Restaurant of the Year’ awards recognise the pinnacle of food and drink establishments in the county, as well as those such as East Lodge that actively support, utilise and promote local produce. As a shortlisted restaurant, East Lodge automatically qualifies for the new ‘Taste Derbyshire’ accreditation – as all the nominated restaurants will be among the first to received into the scheme – part of a nationwide campaign to encourage eating out venues to deliver the best and provide customers with the reassurance that they can count on quality wherever they see the ‘Taste Derbyshire’ logo. The scheme’s assessment process has been used in the judging process for the Restaurant of the Year and is seen as a fitting launch pad for the county’s latest culinary ‘kitemark’ of quality.
Iain Hardman, director of the award-winning East Lodge hotel and restaurant, commented: “We would like to congratulate our fellow local businesses on their success and on joining us in Taste Derbyshire accreditation status. In tough economic times, local businesses are ‘in it together’ and the determination of all of us to be the best inevitably drives standards very high. Our friendly rivalry in such a small area means we can boast some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the country and that can only be a good thing for both existing customers and in encouraging new business into our region.
East Lodge is focused on the national finals of the tourism awards, but this has not stopped the hotel continuing to develop the restaurant side of the business and its community involvement. Head Chef Simon Bradley is now in demand to showcase his skills, most recently helping local school children with their own ‘Great Rowsley Menu’ and appearing on Street Market Chefs for Channel Five.
East Lodge plans to make its innovative Great Rowsley Menu an annual event; the hotel provided the pupils of Rowsley Primary School with their very own vegetable plot and ultimately they picked and prepared what they have grown and together with Simon Bradley they designed and served the fruits of their ‘Great Rowsley Menu’ at the ultimate end of term school dinner. The aim is for pupils to learn about growing produce, nutrition and encourage healthy diet and lifestyle choices - perhaps even be inspired to follow in Simon’s award winning footsteps.
“We look forward to seeing ex-pupils from Rowsley Primary School at awards ceremonies in years to come,” added Iain Hardman. “Hopefully a few will be inspired enough to take up careers in the restaurant and hospitality trade; nothing would give me more pleasure than if some of the children we are teaching as part of the Great Rowsley Menu end up working for our award-winning restaurant brigade and hotel staff,” he said.
“The quality of our food speaks for itself. In addition to Simon’s skills, we make every effort to only use locally grown and farmed ingredients. This approach supports our fellow local businesses and gives regional authenticity to our food which is appreciated both by locals, tourists and schoolchildren alike! We are already looking forward to the next Great Rowsley Menu in 2011.”
East Lodge’s Head Chef, Simon Bradley, said: ”While it’s great to be shortlisted for awards and to receive accreditations, it’s by remaining focused on what we do best that keeps our customers coming back. We have a great rapport with our local suppliers and they are as passionate about food as we. We choose the very best beef and lamb from Highfield House Farm in Stonedge near Ashover and our pork is from White Peak Farm in Tissington. We grow a wide selection of fresh seasonal vegetables in our own gardens and have our own smoke house to add unique variety to our fish dishes. The Taste Derbyshire accreditation is a testament to the fantastic combination of great local ingredients and the skill and dedication of the team and my fellow chefs at East Lodge.”
East Lodge is owned by the Hardman family and has picked up a number of important accolades, achieving the coveted AA “Inspectors’ Choice” with three red stars for 2010/11, placing it within the top 150 hotels in the UK. Gold at the East Midlands Tourism Awards means the hotel will progress to the national finals - the tourism ‘Oscars’. Yet the hotel never loses sight of its regional roots:
“We have a real triumvirate of taste talent in this area,” concluded Iain. “There cannot be many places in the UK outside London where you could find such concentrated culinary quality and together with our peers we look forward to encouraging more people to try a taste of the Peak District in the months and years ahead.” For more information or to book your table call at East Lodge call 01629 734474