Food news,Upcoming Courses

Focaccia, Croissant, Brioche…21 Aug

Exciting new breads…

Not long to go before James’ first bread course at Shires.  Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September.  He is looking forward to sharing his passion.

Do you fancy catching the bread baking bug?  It’s definitely contagious!


Events,Food news

Masterchef judge opens new food festival10 Jun

William Sitwell1Masterchef judge, TV food critic and writer William Sitwell will be setting aside his campaign against square plates to cut the ribbon on the new Love Northampton Food and Drink Festival being staged in the town next month!

The free festival, being funded by the Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and supported by Northampton Borough Council, is taking place from 11am to 4pm on Friday 4th July and Saturday 5th July and will centre on a food fayre in the Guildhall, while nearby restaurants, cafés and pubs will tempt diners and drinkers with month-long festival vouchers and special offers and be promoting the best of Northamptonshire produce on their menus.

William, who lives in the south of the county and who has recently been hitting the culinary headlines for leading the charge on round plates over their square counterparts, is looking forward to the opportunity to sinking his teeth into the array of tasty wares from the local artisan producers who are sampling and selling their mouth-watering range of goodies across the two days – everything from beers to biscuits, chutneys to cheese; “My beloved Northamptonshire represents so much that is great about modern foodie Britain – and it’s getting better!” enthused William.

“So I really hope that this new festival will attract a large number of visitors to Northampton, keen not only to discover the local delicious delights that we have to offer but also to help our county town flourish as a real dining hub” he added.

Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company, who is organising the festival on behalf of Northampton Town Centre BID, says she is thrilled to have the Masterchef judge’s backing; “We’re absolutely delighted that William is showing his support for this event as it offers a culinary stamp of approval to what we know is going to be a wonderful festival” explained Rachel.


“There’s already a real excitement building up among the town’s eateries and the food businesses involved who are all really looking forward to the two days and so we’d encourage all food lovers to join us and make the most of the fantastic dining discounts and tasty treats that will be on offer!” she added.


For more details of the Love Northampton Food and Drink Festival, please visit or like us on facebook or follow us on twitter @NorthamptonBID or #LoveNFADF. Alternatively please call 01933 664437.

Food news

Probably the finest chefs in the county07 Aug

Mike briefs the chefsWith the saucepans bubbling and the frying pans sizzling, some of the county’s finest chefs have been battling it out to win one of three prestigious titles in this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.

The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), is now in its fifth year and is again aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

The first of the tasty trio of cook-offs was that of ‘Spice Chef of the Year’ and the finalists were (in alphabetical order):

Ondine Hartgroves of Diner Privé Par Ondine, Northampton
Nadir Hussain of Sedgebrook Hall, Chapel Brampton
Mohammed Adbul Hye of Saffron, Northampton
Lakhvir Singh of Mem-Saab, Northampton

The four were invited to the impressive kitchens of Northampton College to prepare the two-course meal that they had submitted with their entry, including peppermint chicken, lime and ginger sea bass, rose water pilau rice and beetroot halwa. Among the judges charged with the task of choosing a winner were Ian James of category sponsor British Pepper & Spice and the former European ‘Curry Chef of the Year’ Raj Mandal from Bedford College, both of whom have judged in previous years. As Raj explained, the challenge was another tough task; “Each year that I come I imagine the standards couldn’t get any higher, but they do! The variety of dishes and the skills that each chef displayed was really top class and Northamptonshire should be very proud of its spicy talents!”

The second cook-off, also at Northampton College, was the bid for the title of ‘Aspire Chef of the Year’ and the five who took part were (in alphabetical order):

Gavin Austin of Oundle Mill, Oundle
Nick Baba of The Snooty Fox, Lowick
Viktorija Bernataviciute of The Wig & Pen, Northampton
Hao Dang of Dang’s, Northampton
Lee Gaskins of The Terrace Restaurant at Highgate House, Creaton

This time, the chefs were set a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style challenge, each being provided with a selection of store cupboard products from category sponsor Booker as well as their key Northamptonshire ingredients of rabbit sourced from Boughton House, cider from Vale of Welton Cider at Welton near Daventry and Warner Edwards gin from Harrington.

The judges facing this task included Northampton College’s Head of Catering and Hospitality, Mike Coppock, Northampton’s Flying Chef, David Bishop and a Fellow Master Chef of Great Britain, Steven Saunders from category sponsor Aspire Hospitality, based at Silverstone. Each watched and scored the chefs in action before tucking into their created dishes of roast saddle of rabbit, dark chocolate soufflé and vanilla and sweet wine poached pears.

For Steven, choosing a winner proved an equally difficult decision. “What amazed me in particular was the creativity with which the different chefs approached their task. When the dishes were laid out for the judging it was really difficult to imagine that they’d all started with the same set of ingredients!” he revealed. “Yet each of them used their own specialist skills to their best advantage and left me and the other judges thoroughly impressed. If had room in my kitchen, I’d employ all of them!” he added.

And the third cook-off, also at Northampton College, saw eight of the county’s finest up and coming chefs from across the county battle it out in the semi-final of the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ – a category sponsored by Booker for those aged 18-25. Like their senior counterparts, they too were provided with a basket of standard kitchen ingredients by sponsors Booker with their key Northamptonshire ingredients being chicken legs from Pastures Farm Poultry at Yardley Hastings, pork sausages from Pargiters Butchers in Far Cotton and again, Warner Edwards gin, from which they had to provide a main course dish for two people.

The octet drew upon their wide variety of cooking talents by serving up a wonderful array of dishes for the judges, including gin-soaked chicken legs, chicken roulade with a spicy vegetable ravioli, and a sausage cassoulet.

Those contending with the tricky, but enjoyable task of choosing the finalists were Northampton College catering lecturer Richard Curtis, reigning ‘Young Chef of the Year’, Will Mountain of The Saracen’s Head at Little Brington and Peter Saunders from the category sponsors; “Booker is delighted to support this category because we’re very proud of the fine eateries that the county’s foodies can already enjoy and we’d like to think that these rising stars are those venues’ head chefs of the future.” Peter explained. “We were all really impressed by the skills they’re showing so early in their careers and I’m only sorry that I can’t be at the final because I know the judges are set for an wonderful morning!”

The four finalists, who now go forward to compete for the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ title in the final cook-off at Tresham College in Corby later this month, are (in alphabetical order):

Arthur Dzerins of The Hopping Hare, Northampton
Sophie Fountain of The White Swan Inn, Holcot
Bethany Fry of The Lanes Restaurant, Northampton College
Laura Gibbins of The World’s End, Ecton

All finalists now have until Thursday 17th October to discover their fate when the winners and runners-up in all 13 categories of this year’s Awards will be announced at the Awards Dinner (sponsored by Electrolux) taking place at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton. Tickets priced at £90 (plus VAT) or £850 (plus VAT) for a table of ten are available by calling Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or emailing For more details about the competition, please visit the Awards’ website


Food news

Probably the best culinary competition?30 Mar

The team behind the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards are delighted to announce that the competition has been launched for its fourth year – and it’s bigger and better than ever!

The Awards, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), are aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

Thanks to ongoing support from NEP, its other sponsors and partners, including headline sponsor Carlsberg UK, Booker, British Pepper & Spice and Whitco, and the addition of four new sponsors – Beckworth Emporium, Explore Communications Ltd, Leatherhead Food Research and Whitworth Bros. Ltd – the competition has expanded yet again to an impressive twelve categories – those being:
‘New Local Product of the Year’ – sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd
‘New Local Drink of the Year’ – sponsored by Beckworth Emporium
‘Artisan Local Product/Drink of the Year’ – sponsored by Leatherhead Food Research with Image Magazine
‘Restaurant of the Year’ – sponsored by Whitco with Business Times
‘Pub or Bar Restaurant of the Year’ – sponsored by Whitco with Great Food Magazine
‘Community Pub of the Year – Town’ – with the Chronicle & Echo and Evening Telegraph
‘Community Pub of the Year – Rural’ – with the Chronicle & Echo and Evening Telegraph
‘Booker Chef of the Year’ – sponsored by Booker with Taste Magazine
‘Young Chef of the Year’ – sponsored by Booker
‘Spice Chef of the Year’ – sponsored by British Pepper and Spice in conjunction with Northampton College and with WOW Magazine
‘Local Food Hero’ – sponsored by CPRE Northants (Campaign to Protect Rural England) with Aspire Magazine
‘Northamptonshire Jubilee Breakfast’ – sponsored by Explore Communications Ltd

The details of the new-look competition were revealed at the launch at The Malt Shovel Tavern in Northampton, the current ‘Community Pub of the Year – Town’, by NEP’s Executive Director Rob Purdie. Speaking before an audience made up of last year’s winners, sponsors, judges and competition partners, he explained the increasing value of the awards in supporting the visitor economy in Northamptonshire; “I am delighted to be launching this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards which reflect our support for this sector in the county. We developed the awards because food and drink is of vital importance to the local economy – representing 18% or £150 million of overall visitor expenditure each year – and demonstrates strong potential for future growth. We are also committed to encouraging people to ‘buy local’, not least because this approach further strengthens the local economy and benefits local communities.”

Meanwhile Matt Callan, Carlsberg UK’s Production Director, gave an insight into why the company is lending its support again this year; “Carlsberg has been brewing in Northampton since the seventies and we are really proud to call it our home town. Our local community is really important to us so we’re delighted to once again be sponsoring this fantastic initiative and look forward to celebrating all that is great about our local food and drink.”
Also present was Paul McManus of the McManus Pub Company which owns The Sun Inn at Hardingstone, the current ‘Community Pub of the Year – Rural’. He spoke of the significant impact that success in the competition is having; “Given the current climate, any pub that’s holding its own is doing well, yet at The Sun Inn we’re seeing a 20% rise in like-for-like sales compared with last year. I’m sure that being involved in this competition has played a major part in that so I’d urge everyone who can, in whatever category, to take part.”
Finally, the Awards’ co-ordinator, Rachel Mallows of the Mallows Company, thanked those who have enabled the expansion of the competition; “I believe the support of our existing sponsors and of those joining us this year demonstrates the increasing prestige of these awards and we’re delighted that those companies are behind us in helping to celebrate and nurture the county’s food and drink sector.”
She also talked of her excitement at the new categories being introduced; “We want the awards to encourage growth and innovation which is why we’ve brought in the categories of ‘New Local Product’ and ‘New Local Drink’, while the ‘Artisan Local Product/ Drink of the Year’ still enables Northamptonshire’s traditional produce to bid for culinary glory! I’m also really looking forward to the ‘Northamptonshire Jubilee Breakfast’ category as we believe that food and festivities go hand in hand and it seemed the perfect way to celebrate the Queen’s sixty years on the throne!”
Following the speeches, the guests were treated to a Northamptonshire ploughman’s lunch created almost exclusively from local produce. It included salad drizzled with Farrington’s Balsamic Vinegar Dressing from Farrington Oils in Hargrave and a hearty slice of Diamond Pie from Sauls of Spratton, winner and runner-up in last year’s ‘Best Local Product’ category respectively. They were washed down with glasses of Fleur Fields Rosé from Fleur Fields at Brixworth and Medium Apple Juice from Flore’s The Village Orchard, which were first and second in the ‘Best Local Drink’ category respectively.
For more details on all twelve categories in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2012/13, including downloading entry forms or how to nominate in both of the ‘Community Pub of the Year’ and ‘Local Food Hero of the Year’ categories, please visit or contact Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email

Food news

The search is on21 Apr

Do you consider yourself something of a Nigella in the kitchen? Reckon you could give Jamie a run for his money?

If so, then make sure you take part in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards, which has this year launched the search for county’s finest chefs!

The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited (NEL), is aimed at celebrating all that is great about the county’s produce and drink, to recognise excellence within its dining venues and to reward those who work so hard within the culinary sector. Thanks to new sponsor Booker, there are two brand new categories for the 2011/12 Awards – the ‘Booker Chef of the Year’ and ‘Young Chef of the Year’.

Area Manager, Alistair Rogers, explained why the company wanted to get involved in this way. “Booker is delighted to be supporting those chefs who work so tirelessly to put the region on the culinary map. As a local supplier to many chefs throughout Northamptonshire, we understand how important it is to reward those individuals who continue to create outstanding food”.

One of those taking up the challenge is Teresa McCarthy who runs ‘The Swan and Helmet’ in Northampton’s Grove Road. “I used to work as a chef on the QEII and in Michelin-starred restaurants in London so I reckon I stand a decent chance! It’s been a while since I’ve entered any competitions, but I’m really proud of the food we serve at the pub and since I want to put it on the local culinary map, this seems like the ideal way to do so!”

The ‘Booker Chef of the Year’ is open to chefs aged 18 or over while the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ is for 16 to 21 year olds. Entrants, either amateur or professional, need to submit a three-course menu plan and from those, a shortlist of finalists will be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges to go through to the final cook-off later in the summer which will decide the winners.

Said Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company which co-ordinates the Awards “We’re really grateful to Booker for lending their support as this has enabled us to introduce these new categories and help us publically applaud some of the many hundreds of creative and skilled chefs we have here in the county. So whatever your age and whether you’re a working chef with a menu to be proud of or in your element at the stove at home, we look forward to receiving your entry!”

Meanwhile Kate Dent, Head of Tourism at NEL, commented on the wider impact of the new categories. “It’s great to have these two additional awards, not least because greater value is being placed on local food and drink thanks to our hardworking professional chefs. It’s therefore right that they should be publically recognised in this w

Food news

Michelin-star chef takes pub restaurant to new heights26 Aug

 One of Northamptonshire’s most successful pub restaurants has undergone a change of ownership.  

Adam Gray and wife Amber are now partners at the Red Lion at East Haddon, joining forces with existing owner managers Nick Bonner and Ren Averio. 


Michelin-starred Adam says: ‘My wife and I are absolutely delighted to be partners with Nick and Ren at the Red Lion. East Haddon is my home village and where I grew up. As a schoolboy I used to wash pots here over twenty years ago and I started my cooking apprenticeship at the Red Lion while attending Northampton College, before heading out of the county to further my career.
‘My aim for the food is to build a simple, affordable British menu using local seasonal ingredients where possible. Hopefully this will also encourage more local producers to let us know about their produce. ‘‘I am very much looking forward to developing the business over the next few years and putting Northamptonshire on the map as a county of culinary distinction.’
Nick took over the Red Lion with his partner Ren in 2006. Since then the restaurant has been refurbished and has built up an enviable reputation for superb food using fresh, high quality and where possible local ingredients.
Also joining the team as head chef is 24-year-old Anthony Horn, who worked with Adam for five years at Rhodes Twenty-four in London. Anthony, who like Nick and Adam was born and brought up in Northampton, gained his catering qualifications at Northampton College before moving to London to start his career at the top end of gourmet restaurant cooking. He is delighted to be returning to his home county to take up his first appointment as head chef.


Under Adam’s guidance a fabulous new menu has been unveiled, which has been warmly received. The new team at the Red Lion look forward welcoming you for a memorable dining experience. 
For information call (01604) 770223 




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