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CAUSING A STIR Candice Brown winner of The Great British Bake Off 2016


‘Never in a million years did I ever go into the show thinking this would happen’

A word in your shell like… The 15th Rye Bay Scallop Week takes place in February between Saturday 18 and Sunday 26. This popular foodie festival offers seafood lovers the perfect excuse to taste and enjoy an array of delicious scallop dishes and to also attend cooking demonstrations, take part in workshops, quizzes and tasting events. A number of the town’s restaurants including The George Hotel’s Grill, Ypres Castle Inn and the Hope and Anchor Hotel will be showcasing a variety of scallop inspired menus. Visit

Dress to impress It’s no good slaving over a hot stove if the plates you’re serving your gourmet creations on aren’t up to scratch. If you’re still passing off chipped crockery then splash out on some gorgeous new plates and platters. We’ve discovered the heavenly Sthal collection’s new Arabesque range which allows you to create the ‘ulitmate colourful canvas for your food.’ The fact they also hit this year’s key Pantone colour trend is another added bonus. Talk about getting your greens! Prices start from £8 for a dipping bowl. For more information visit

The rise of a great star Life is looking pretty sweet for Candice Brown right now. Gastro finds out what’s in store for the winner of the Great British Bake Off and why she’s keen to get her fingers in plenty of different pies role as a regular contributor to The Sunday Times’ specialist monthly food publication The Dish but there are also rumours that Candice will be doing an Antiques Roadshow-style trip around France with her former Bake Off contestant and now firm friend Jane, and that she also has plans to open her own vintage-inspired tea shop. Add to this rich mix her numerous appearances on ITV’s This Morning and Loose Women as well as Channel 5’s The Wright

Stuff plus a series of personal appearances at specialist foodie festivals and you’ll instantly see that Candice is very much in demand these days. Born in North London, Candice was surrounded by food from an early age thanks to the fact her parents ran a number of pubs. But unlike her brother Ben and sister Tanya, the Bake Off champion showed a real interest in it, thanks mainly to the fact she often stayed with her ‘beloved’ nan Margaret who had a real penchant for baking.

In a recent interview Candice paid tribute to her saying: “She was brilliant and modest, and I loved spending as much time cooking with her as I could. She passed away eight years ago and my world fell away when she did. Lots of my ideas come from her and I still have her handwritten recipes. She was a dinner lady and would make everything from boiled fruitcake to Bakewell tart. All of it was perfect.” See page 3 for more on Candice Brown >>

PHOTO: @Radio Times/Jude Edginton


fter weeks of creating mouthwatering sugary confections and deftly avoiding the odd burnt crust or dull glaze, Candice Brown was crowned the victorious winner of the Great British Bake Off late last year. The 32-year-old, who beat Jane Beedle from Sevenoaks and Andrew Smyth from County Down in the BBC1 final, has since quit her day job as a PE teacher and is now considering numerous lucrative projects. The first confirmed one is her

More cheese please A group of expert cheese makers have recently launched The Cheese Academy, a professional accreditation programme for the UK’s top quality cheese makers. The idea is the brainchild of Mary Quicke, from Devon based cheesemakers, Quicke’s. Mary had seen how the Certified Cheese Professional (CCP) exam in America, elevated the role of those in the cheese supply chain and wante to see this happen in the UK. With the support of the Guild of Fine Food, the qualification programme is now happening and level one will be ready to sit and pass in spring 2017. Visit www.the academy ofcheese.

GASTRO | 03 Continued from page 1 >>

What’ll it be, then?


IRST AND FOREMOST, Happy New year to all our customers, both old and new. 2017 brings exciting times here at Whiting & Hammond as we launch our new edition of Gastro in a handy newspaper format in association with the Times of Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. Within the pages of our new spring issue you will learn all about the history of our prestigious family run pubs and what they have to offer. We’re fortunate enough to boast sites in Kent, Sussex and Surrey so there’s always a Whiting & Hammond hostelry to enjoy wherever your travels take you. Also in our new edition, we have some handy tips on what seasonal produce and ingredients are best to enjoy over the coming months as well as plenty of recipe ideas, including one from our Operations Manager’s favourite dish and which wine will perfectly complement it. We also kick off our new style paper format with a profile piece on the lovely Candice Brown, winner of the seventh series of The Great British Bake Off. Candice talks about how she got into baking and why she has recently quit her job as a PE teacher to bake full-time. I think I would need to do both jobs if I baked cakes all day and ate them but there you go! I thought it would also be a nice idea to feature some of the suppliers Whiting & Hammond use so you can see just how local and easily traceable all our food is. We work incredibly closely with our producers and try to use as many regional ones as possible, this allows us to have daily deliveries of fresh produce and to cut down on wastage. In this edition of Gastro we speak to Dion Massey from Penshurst Fine Foods who we have used since Whiting and Hammond was established back in 2003. We also have a round-up of the latest food and drink news for you to savour as well as the low down on some amazing new gadgets. We also have some great events coming up over the next few months so get in early if you would like to book a table for Valentine’s or Mother’s Day. We hope you like our new style and format of Gastro. The simple truth is that without your continued support we would not be where we are today and it’s because of you that we are able to proudly call ourselves not just a company but a family that grows with every person that comes through the doors. So pull up a stool, enjoy this issue of Gastro and get a round in… I’m off to the pub to do the same! Cheers, Brian Keeley-Whiting Managing Director

Candice also admits that she found baking a ‘haven’ from the stress of teaching. Until recently she was a PE teacher at Ashlyns School in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire but made the decision to leave her post at the end of last year. “This has been such an agonising decision to make,” she said at a press conference at the time. “Never in a million years did I ever go into the show thinking this would happen. This is why I have been back at school teaching since I won the Bake Off final. “At first I kept telling the school I would stay until December but they were so incredible and told me I had to grab everything whilst I could. “My headteacher told me: ‘You’ve got to do this, you can’t do it half-heartedly. I wouldn’t forgive myself if you missed out. It’s not that we don’t want you here but you have to give it 100%. If we can’t encourage our staff to follow their dreams and inspire, then we are not doing our job properly. You are showing the kids that anything is possible.’” Candice, who is an avid Tottenham Hotspur and England rugby fan, was crowned Bake Off’s 2016 winner thanks to the array of impressive sweet and savoury creations she whipped up in the show’s famous tent. These included a gingerbread replica of a Medieval Bedfordshire pub

she’d lived in as a child and an ambitious marzipan peacock cake with a blueberry surprise in the middle. Intriguing and inspired bakes such as these helped Candice to land the show’s prestigious Star Baker title three times in the series of ten episodes, which drew in a record 14.8 million viewers for the final. “I baked continuously,” Candice said when commenting on what she did to prepare herself for taking part in the much loved show, that will soon be screened on Channel 4 with only one original cast member, Paul Hollywood, left presenting. Mary Berry, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc all declined to move with the show. And when Candice was introduced as the Sunday Times’ new Dish contributor she revealed the key to her cooking prowess: “I would say my style is homely and old-fashioned with a twist. I’m particularly good at what I call the ‘guessa-cake’, when I make a cake by measuring all the ingredients by eye. My theory is that if it tastes good raw, it will taste good cooked.” Her love of posh, rich toned lipsticks and chic chignons which became her trademark look on the show - belied the fact that Candice is also very much a homely kind of girl when it comes to her personal life. She and her tree surgeon boyfriend Liam Macaulay and their pug Dennis live near her brother Ben in Bedfordshire

My headteacher told me: ‘You’ve got to do this, you can’t do it halfheartedly. I wouldn’t forgive myself if you missed out. It’s not that we don’t want you here but you have to give it 100%.’

THREE’S COMPANY Candice with her fellow finalists Jane Beedle and Andrew Smyth

and she’s still very close to her parents, often tweeting pictures of her with her dad at sports matches. Perhaps the toughest time for Candice since officially winning the show was having to keep quiet about her impressive victory. The Great British Bake Off is filmed in late spring and the final takes place in June but it wasn’t until October that the result was officially announced and Candice could talk about it. When asked by colleagues and pupils what she’d done at the weekend (when the show is filmed) she says she would just say she ‘baked a lot’. The support of her fellow contestants on the

show helped though. In a recent interview Candice revealed they had a WhatsApp group entitled Bakers Uncensored where they all chat and catch up on a regular basis. Given the amount of fame past Bake Off finalists including Frances Quinn, Ruby Tandoh and last year’s Nadiya Hussain have enjoyed, the future looks very bright for Candice. And whether she wants to turn her hand to presenting cookery shows or open that dream tea shop Candice Brown is certainly someone that’s able to have her cake and eat it right now. “I’m a very lucky person,” she concludes.

The Gastro team Editor

Eileen Leahy Design and Production Manager

Lee Smith

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Whiting & Hammond Gastro is owned by Whiting & Hammond Ltd and published/distributed by One Media and Creative UK Ltd. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the owner or publisher. All prices are correct at the time of going to print. Neither the publisher nor the owner can accept responsibility for any errors or omissions relating to advertising or editorial. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent from the publisher. No responsibility is taken for unsolicited materials or the return of these materials whilst in transit.


The Blue Ball gets a bounce after


Our popular hostelry in Walton on the Hill near Epsom, The Blue Ball, has beaten off competition from 1,100 other pubs to be crowned Star Pub of the Year in national awards run by the Heineken owned Star AWARD WINNING Brian accepts the Pubs & Bars. Star Pub award The prestigious from Chris Kamara award was received at a gala celebration night in Liverpool from football legend and broadcaster Chris Kamara. Brian Keeley-Whiting took over the establishment in 2015 after it had been closed for two years and the award marks the dramatic transformation he has brought about thanks to a stunning £750,000 refurbishment which has restored The Blue Ball to a thriving village pub once again since it reopened in September last year. The judges said it brought together all the most valued features of the British pub: ‘An excellent pint, good food and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere’. They noted how everything was delivered to the very highest standards, singling out the pub’s perfectly served range of draught beers and cask ales and its seasonally changing menu which is freshly prepared using locally sourced ingredients. The Blue Ball also received a special commendation for its careful renovation which


has made it an ‘attractive feature’ of Walton on the Hill’s green. The judges loved the pub’s garden and heated huts as well as its large central fireplace and beautifully decorated interior. Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director said: “The Blue Ball puts the ‘great’ into great British pub. Brian and his team saw the potential in The Blue Ball when it was in a sorry state and are to be commended for their commitment and vision in reopening it. Its success is proof of the enduring popularity of the traditional pub.” Brian commented: “We’re thrilled, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. It’s great to be recognised, especially against such tough competition, and a real tribute to all our brilliant staff. We see it as an award not just for The Blue Ball but for the whole community who have welcomed and supported our reopening of the pub.”

All the dates you’ll need on your W&H calendar


being named ‘Pub of the Year’






UK COFFEE WEEK 10th – 16th April GOOD FRIDAY 14th April EASTER SUNDAY 16th April

Whiting & Hammond up for two top awards


It’s been another great start to 2017 for another of the newest Whiting & Hammond pubs. The Rose & Crown in Green St Green are finalists in the Best Designed Casual Dining Pub or Bar and the Whiting & Hammond group are also a finalist in the Multiple Casual Dining Pub of the Year. Visit

ST GEORGE’S DAY 23rd April For more information on how to book any of our events, check with your local venue or visit You can also keep up to date with what’s happening by liking us on Facebook at or by following us on Twitter @Whiting_Hammond

The food of love

Under new management We are pleased to welcome Harrison Mackenzie as our new manager at The Blue Ball. He has completed the team with his great enthusiasm and energy and comes with good experience from running food-led sites. Harrison will be an integral part of the team working alongside the Head Chef, Steve Ednie, to produce some great home cooked food in the Whiting & Hammond way.

Treat your nearest and dearest to a slap-up meal at any of our award winning pubs and restaurants over the coming months. On Tuesday February 14 you can wine and dine your beloved with some of our sharing platters on Valentine’s Day, while on Sunday March 26 you won’t want to forget to spoil the most important woman in your life by taking your mum out for a traditional British meal on Mother’s Day. For more information on how to reserve a table visit your nearest Whiting & Hammond local or head to our website for further details. Visit

Seasonal sensations 06 | GASTRO

Every season brings with it a new crop of delicious ingredients to enjoy. Here’s a taste of what spring has in store for the keen cooks who want to liven up their mealtimes…

As the cold winter months ebb away and we edge closer to springtime we bid farewell to all those wonderful root vegetables such as swede, turnips, sweet potato and celeriac which have helped us to create hearty, fulfilling soups, stews and pies in order to satisfy our tastebuds. With the arrival of a new season there’s a wealth of inspiring ingredients and specialist produce to discover and enjoy cooking with. Heading towards the official start of spring you’ll start to see plenty of fresh fish including cod and oysters coming into season as well as citrus fruits and leeks. To help you plan your menus and mealtimes we’ve produced this handy guide which shows you the culinary highlights of the season. We’ve also singled out a couple of hero food ingredients for each month and given you some tips on how to use them in your own recipe repertoire. Bon appetit!

February’s Must Buy Meat: Venison Although it’s coming to the tail end of its official season venison is still a great meat to cook with this month. Its lean, red meat is low in fat but packed full of flavour. Venison is the name given to any species of deer sold as meat in the UK and can be classified as wild, park or farmed deer. The most common varieties in the UK however are red, fallow and roe. Cook it as you would beef to create mouthwatering casseroles, pan fried steaks or shred it into fresh pasta. Perfect pairings for venison include juniper, gin, red wine, port, rosemary and redcurrant.

What’s in store:


Fruit and Vegetables:

Banana  Bramley apple  Brussels sprouts  Cabbage  Cauliflower Celeriac  Chicory  Grapefruit  Jerusalem artichoke  Leek  Lemon  Onion  Pak choi  Parsnip  Pepper  Pomegranate  Potato (coming in)  Purple sprouting broccoli  Rhubarb  Sorrel (coming in)  Spinach (coming in)  Spring greens  Spring onions  Sweet potato  Watercress (coming in) Meat and Fish:

Beef  Chicken  Cod  Mussels  Oyster  Pork  Salmon  Spring lamb

What’s in store:

February Fruit and Vegetables:

Apple  Banana  Bramley apple  Brussels sprouts  Cabbage Cauliflower  Celeriac  Chicory  Clementine  Grapefruit  Jerusalem artichoke  Leek  Lemon  Onion  Orange  Pak choi  Swede  Sweet potato  Turnip  Parsnip  Purple sprouting broccoli  Radicchio  Rhubarb  Pepper  Pomegranate Meat and Fish:

Beef  Chicken  Cod  Mussels  Oyster  Pork  Spring lamb  Venison

February’s Must Buy Vegetable: Jerusalem Artichoke Knobbly and rather odd to look at, what they lack in aesthetic appearance Jerusalem artichokes more than make up for in taste. Full of nutty, sweet and crunchy goodness they are satisfying and delicious. This particular type of artichoke is a member of the sunflower family and is simple to cook and surprisingly diverse. You can prepare it like potatoes or parsnips and then roast or sauté it. Alternatively, try dipping some slices of it in batter and then frying. Jerusalem artichokes are also fabulous puréed for a warming, delicious soup or you could try adding it to a pork and cider stew, including it in a white fish and cheese gratin or pan fry with plenty of garlic, sage, bay leaves and olive oil then toss into a crisp salad.

March’s Must Buy Fruit: Pomegranates Red, round and bursting with scarlet pulp and juice, pomegranates have been enjoying somewhat of a super food status over the past few years. Native to Iran but also now grown in India, Africa and South East Asia the pomegranate dates back two thousand years or so but it would seem that foodies here in the UK have only discovered its health inducing benefits and its ability to conjure up a culinary delight relatively recently. Its sweet and sharp juices and pulp are great used in a healthy smoothie or a naughty vodka-based cocktail, while its berry-like red beads liven up a lamb dish or exotic North African couscous salad perfectly. March’s Must Buy Meat: Spring Lamb As we head into spring now is the time to start seeking out the first cuts of new season spring lamb. Spring lamb is fantastic for roasting simply with garlic and herbs and is on average three to five months old. It is very tender and boasts a more delicate flavour due to the fact the animals haven’t had as much time to graze. The younger the animal the sweeter, more tender the meat and milder the flavour. When cooking it just needs a bit of seasoning; this is one reason why new season lamb is so popular. The spring lamb season runs roughly from February until June. Try roasting a leg, grilling some loin shops, braising a shoulder or mince it to make lamb burgers.

What’s in store:


Beef  Chicken  Lamb  Spring lamb  Pork  Salmon  Halibut  Crab  Banana  Cabbage  Cauliflower  Celeriac  Grapefruit  Lettuce (coming in)  New potatoes – At their best Peas (coming in)  Pepper  Pomegranate  Potato  Purple sprouting broccoli  Rhubarb  Sorrel  Spinach  Spring greens  Spring onion  Watercress – At its best.

April’s Must Buy Fish: Fresh crab There are more than 4,000 species of the crustacean known as crab including European brown, Dungeness, Spider and Atlantic Blue. Its season runs from April until November and its claws boast sweet, rich white meat, not too dissimilar to that of lobster, while the flesh in the upper shell is dense, soft and brown. If you buy cooked crustaceans, eat them within 24 hours of purchase and never after the ‘best before’ date. Crabmeat can be eaten hot or cold and is a luxurious and tasty addition to salads, fresh pasta dishes or homemade fish cakes. Its perfect partners are cream, chilli and lime. April’s Must Buy Vegetable: Rhubarb This long, pink tangy ingredient is actually a vegetable and not a fruit and although it is traditionally eaten sweet, it can also work well in savoury dishes such as duck and fish. Originally used as a medicine in ancient China it was brought to Europe by Marco Polo and is one of the UK’s favourite seasonal ingredients. The reason it is classed as a vegetable is due to its botanical roots – it’s related to sorrel and dock. It grows in two crops with the first being forced up by candlelight around January. The second arrives around now and is known as ‘maincrop’ rhubarb. Unlike the earlier variety it boasts a more intense flavour and has deeper red stalks. Neither type of rhubarb can be eaten raw as it is too tart and should always be cooked, preferably with plenty of sugar. To mix things up try roasting it with pork and black pudding or infused in a chutney with dates and ginger – perfect with cheese.


Spring into action Acclaimed local food expert Mary Gwynn gets your tastebuds tingling with some delicious seasonal delicacies which can be sourced from your nearest farmers’ food market February and March are sometimes referred to by chefs as the hunger gap or famine months, as we all wait for longer days and warmer weather to stimulate the new season’s growth and the bounty ahead. But spring is just around the corner, and as the clocks go forward, it’s time to say goodbye to hearty comfort eating and welcome the arriving warmer and lighter days with fresh flavours and textures in our food. After all, that’s one of the real joys of seasonal local shopping – life moves on, ingredients come and go with the changing year, and we can all enjoy knowing we are eating food at its finest whilst giving vital

Linguine with scallops, chilli and parsley A really wonderful way to enjoy scallops while they are at their finest, is this simple recipe which can also be made with prawns. Use quality dried pasta made with durum wheat for the best results Serves: 2 Prepare: 5 minutes Cook: 10 minutes

support to local producers who are working flat out to cope with the challenges the British weather keeps throwing at them. So, although the basket may be less varied in the spring why not make it a time to appreciate the simple pleasures of what we have available. For fish lovers, sea bass is a good choice this month or try a wonderful warming fish stew as a good way of enjoying superb local fish and seafood - a combination of cod, mussels and clams cooked with parsley, garlic and lemon will go wonderfully with a chilled locally made white wine. Or you could spoil yourself a little with the finest local lobsters and native oysters, clams, cockles and mussels. Spring storms permitting, Kent and Sussex scallops are at their finest in early spring so enjoy one of the great pleasures of the season. For meat eaters, venison is available both farmed and wild in many farmers’ markets and game dealers. With only 5% to 7% fat, compared to red meat such as lamb which has on average 25% or more, depending on the cut, venison makes a healthy choice for spring eating. The lower fat content means picking the right cooking method to stop the meat from drying out, so avoid cooking it in traditional stews and casseroles. Today’s game has been very carefully selected and prepared by your local dealer; it’s no longer hung to quite the same stage of ‘gameyness’ and as a result is less strong and much more tender. Therefore it calls

150 – 200g linguine 2 tbsp olive oil 5 fresh scallops with their coral, cut into pieces 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped large pinch crushed chillies 2 -3 tbsp dry white wine 3 tbsp chopped flat leafed parsley squeeze of lemon juice salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Keep the water at a good boil to avoid the pasta sticking and don’t stir apart from when you first add it to the water.

2 When the pasta is nearly cooked, heat the oil in a medium frying pan. Add the scallops and sauté quickly over a high heat to seal and brown. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for half a minute – don’t allow to burn - then add the wine and boil to reduce by half. Stir in the parsley and seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice. 3 Add a splash of cold water to the pasta to stop it cooking then drain thoroughly. Toss with the scallops and all their lovely juices. Serve immediately in warm bowls. For more recipes by Mary Gwynn visit

for more modern, time-friendly techniques such as flash-frying, grilling or even home smoking which are all better suited to lean, tender cuts. Cabbages, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and kale are all good now. They need little cooking and are at their best simply shredded and steamed. Or try quickly stir-frying them with garlic, ginger and chilli for an accompaniment to good local sausages. Cauliflower goes well with an array of Asian spices so try it in vegetable curries, soups and fritters. The harbinger of spring in the vegetable world must be local asparagus, one of the great treats of the season. Asparagus is at its best when picked and cooked within hours, something easily achievable when bought locally at the market. Make the most of the delicate flavour by serving simply steamed with melted butter or hollandaise, or toss with crumbled local goat’s cheese, some toasted pine nuts and a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. As the season progresses, use in risottos, tarts, salads and soups. Beautiful pink forced rhubarb is at its best in spring but the season is short so make the most of it before the main crop arrives. Use in crumbles, fools, ice creams and sauces – it goes particularly well cooked with ginger. Or make up batches of rhubarb compote and freeze in pots for later in the year. For information on your nearest farmers’ market and dates visit


It’s All Inn Keeping Since 2003, we have worked hard to build a chain of local, independently-run pubs that have made their names from great grub, amazing ales and exciting annual events. In this the first issue of our new look Gastro we thought it would be fitting to take a look back at each of our success stories and get the lowdown on how they started, where they are now and what the future holds for them

THE CHASER INN Shipbourne Welcome to the one that started it all. As our maiden voyage into the uncharted seas of hospitality and catering, it has been smooth sailing for this tremendous tavern since its inception, even boasting some rather prestigious punters in the form of Hollywood movie stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who were partial to popping in for the occasional tipple every now and then. The Chaser Inn well and truly got the ball

rolling when we took it over from Greene King in the summer of 2003. It was a big refurbishment to this beautiful site; we relocated the kitchen and toilets and increased the overall capacity to 90 covers. Taking its name from the local Fairlawn Estate, where the Queen Mother’s steeple-chase horses were trained The Chaser is situated in the heart of the British countryside. Sitting next door to the beautiful church of St. Giles and opposite a large grassy common with spectacular views, it dates back to 1880 when it was built by the Cazalet family, who owned the huge estate at the time. In fact, Major Peter Cazalet trained the Queen Mother’s horses personally and upon her arrival to visit them, the jockeys would wait in the Chaser’s now affectionately named ‘Jockey Room’ to meet her. It is this sense of time-honoured tradition rooted in a comfortable, friendly and homegrown environment that has made The Chaser the success story it is today. Stumble Hill, Shipbourne, Tonbridge, Kent, TN11 9PE  01732 810 360

THE MARK CROSS INN Mark Cross Another notch on the Whiting & Hammond belt was added in September 2006, when we happily purchased the lease of this extraordinary pub near Tunbridge Wells. What drew us to this new location was the view; we knew that the rolling hills and luscious greenery of the East Sussex landscape would be a key factor in drawing in customers who love nothing more than an ice-cold cider on a warm summer’s day in their local pub garden. Once again, wanting to get the most out of this new development before it opened, we immediately shut down the pub for an intensive 12 week renovation, which included a substantially enlarged kitchen, as well as the installation of brand new toilets. Inside, we made great use of the large space that was available to us. Much like The Little Brown Jug, the open plan design was hugely beneficial, allowing us to be creative with the pub’s interior. So, whether you’re just popping by for a cheeky half or settling in for a full-blown three course meal, there is a lively bar to prop up, as well as more intimate, secluded dining areas for those special occasions with your nearest and dearest. The beauty of a pub like the Mark Cross is that

THE LITTLE BROWN JUG Chiddingstone Causeway Following the previous owner’s decision to cease trading, we were approached by the Greene King brewery with an offer we couldn’t refuse and therefore jumped at the chance to take on this exciting new project in April 2006. Opening with a small team from our existing establishments, this latest operation soon boomed and saw an abundance of new faces passing through its doors. Ever the perfectionists, however, we decided to close for six weeks in February of the following year for a major refurbishment, including moving the pub’s kitchen. As a result, turnover doubled and continues to grow to this day, with punters being drawn to the pub’s sleepy, idyllic location in a small Kentish village, not to mention the open-plan layout, filled with rustic bookshelves, cosy corners and a roaring wood burner, which

THE FARM @ FRIDAY STREET Eastbourne In the wake of The Mark Cross’s hugely successful opening, we were next approached by Enterprise to take over this enthralling inn, which we gladly did in December 2007. Located on the outskirts of Eastbourne in Langney, The Farm is a more urban environment than many of our other locals. Dating back to medieval times, it benefits from a unique open kitchen and many of the

we have endeavoured to make as inviting as it is charming. There are three distinctive and immensely popular in the beer garden, which create a fantastic, one-of-a-kind dining experience that makes the Little Brown Jug stand out in its own right. Chiddingstone Causeway, Tonbridge, Kent, TN11 8JJ  01892 870 318

pub’s original beams and walls are still in place today. Before the early 20th century, Friday Street was also the only access road to and from Eastbourne, making the pub an important local landmark through the centuries. Our ‘Mezzanine’, which we refer to as the Gallery, is the perfect place to hold private functions for up to 50 guests, while also providing an ideal setting for numerous annual celebrations. We are also particularly proud of our senior management team here at The Farm, who have been showered with an assortment of accolades for their efforts. In 2009, the honour of South East Managed Pub of the Year was bestowed upon them at the Morning Advertiser Great British Pub Awards, as well as a finalist position for Managed Pub of the Year at the Great British Pub Awards, which it was also recognised for in 2011. 15 Friday Street, Langney, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN23 8AP  01323 766 049


every customer who comes in has their own personal story, memory or anecdote about it. One such story is that of the underground tunnels that supposedly ran between our cellar and the local church, evidence of which can still be seen today. They were used by members of the clergy as a means of popping into their local for a pint without causing a stir among the community. According to local legend, the tunnels were hit by bombs during wartime, collapsing on one unsuspecting vicar as he tried to make his way to the bar and trapping him inside. Over time, the pub has borne witness to endless ghost hunts, this story being the basis for many of them! Mark Cross, Nr Tunbridge Wells, East Sussex, TN6 3NP  01892 852 423

For our next foray into food and fine ales, we took on The Cricketers Inn. Steeped in history and tradition, this magnificent pub dates back to the 18th century, and its name has stayed intact for almost 300 years. Set in the picture postcard village of Meopham in Kent, it is flanked by a stunning windmill on one side and a cricket green on the other, cultivating a nostalgic feel that will take you back to a quaint, bygone era. We acquired the pub in the summer of 2010 and have made it our goal to give the people of Meopham their local pub back, returning it to its former glory and restoring the locals’ faith in a place of which they can be truly proud. To that end, we have been heavily involved in local community projects, including taking up sponsorship of the Meopham Cricket Team and supporting various events that the local parish council have undertaken. Having undergone a complete refurbishment,

our bar and lounge have a wonderfully warm and welcoming feel, complete with wood and stone flagged floors, four open log fires, bookcases and curious pictures. This look, while in keeping with the village’s rustic aesthetic, has ensured that we do not cater to any stereotypical customer type. Wrotham Road, Meopham, Kent, DA13 0QA  01474 812 163

GASTRO | 09 THE KINGS HEAD Bessels Green

THE BLUE BALL Walton on the Hill

THE ROSE & CROWN Green St Green

The Kings Head is situated in the beautiful setting of Bessels Green, two miles from the centre of the historic and picturesque town of Sevenoaks. The Kings Head joined the family nearly three years ago. After an intensive refurbishment the pub reopened within weeks with highlights including the three huts in the garden and the fascinating wall of rolling pins. The Kings Head menu ranges from traditional British classics such as fish and chips and a steak burger to interesting, seasonal dishes which use the freshest ingredients sourced from our local suppliers. It’s in a beautiful listed building, opposite a green and near a church and has a stunning garden – funnily enough, much like a lot of our other pubs! Our usual Whiting & Hammond touches have been added, as well as a few extra bits to give The Kings Head its individuality.

The Blue Ball is situated in the beautiful setting of Walton on the Hill, Surrey, midway between the market towns of Reigate and Epsom. The village has a large pond, offers lovely walks and is home to the famous Walton Heath Golf Club. It is a little further afield than our usual heartland, but we were keen to spread our wings and expand into Surrey. This pub was a perfect choice, having been closed for more than two years, it was in a sad old way, but we couldn’t wait to get it up and running once more. Working closely with Star Pubs we brought the site back to life with an extension, a top of the range kitchen on the first floor and three magnificent huts in the garden. A combined budget of £750,000 enabled us to reopen the doors in August 2015, carrying forward the true Whiting & Hammond style and ethos of providing fresh locally sourced produce and a top selection of draught beers and cask ales in the pubs food and drink offering. It is suggested that the name derives from the blue ball that innkeepers hung on a post outside as a signal for stagecoach drivers to

Our latest addition to the family is The Rose & Crown in Green Street Green. The newly refurbished Rose & Crown has had a wonderful makeover with an oak extension in the restaurant; we’ve moved the bar to create more space and extended the kitchen to make room for the charcoal flame BBQ. Heralding the Whiting & Hammond ethos for excellent customer experience, our menu changes daily, all produce is sourced locally and uses the best fresh ingredients that are sourced through carefully selected local suppliers to ensure the daily offerings on the menu are of great quality and value as well as interesting and flavoursome. We have an extensive wine lists

2 Westerham Rd, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks TN13 2QA  01732 452081

stop for passengers. Last year The Blue Ball won the Star Pubs’ ‘Pub of the Year 2016’. It also received a special commendation for its careful renovation which has made it an ‘attractive feature’ of Walton on the Hill’s green. The judges loved the pub’s garden and heated huts as well as its large central fireplace and beautifully decorated interior. “We’re thrilled, it makes all the hard work worthwhile,” says Brian. “It’s great to be recognised, especially against such tough competition, and a real tribute to all our brilliant staff. We see it as an award, not just for The Blue Ball, but for the whole community who have welcomed and supported our reopening of the pub. Deans Lane, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, KT20 7UE 01737 819 003

containing great descriptions for each bottle, if you are still unsure of which bottle would best go with their meal the front of house staff are all on hand to help. One of the Rose & Crown’s unique features is the commanding “Tiki Huts” in the pub’s garden. Four perfectly cylindrical huts, two seating 8-10 people, one seating 10-12 and the largest 20-22, they’re perfect for any special occasion. The huts give a sense of privacy with heating, lighting and comfy cushions, blankets to make them cosier and a ‘waitress call’ button for service. With its roaring fires and wonderful garden it is the perfect place for families and friends. The garden has also had its own makeover with the children’s play area, including swings and climbing frame and a boules pit. The garden also hosts its own kitchen and BBQ hut. Inside, there is seating for 140 people with space outside for 200. Farnborough Way, Orpington BR6 6BT 01689 869 029  www.


A taste of China If you’re looking to expand your recipe repertoire then why not get a little adventurous with Asian style cooking. This beautiful new foodie tome, China: The Cookbook is brimming with delicious culinary creations and is a very comprehensive guide to the world’s oldest and best-loved cuisine. It boasts all the recipes you’ll need to conjure up an Eastern style feast including grilled fish with Chinese celery and Beijing noodles. It will be a luxurious addition to your cookery book shelf thanks to its gilt-edged pages which contain over 650 different recipes and cultural notes by authors Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan. Published by Phaidon www. and available for £29.95

My Favourite Dish

Anyone who has ever perused one of our menus will know what a tough process it can be deciding which dish to go for. With our fresh and flavoursome offers changing on a daily basis, it certainly isn’t difficult to see why. When we posed the million pound question to our Operations Manager, DARREN SOMERTON, however, he came through in style with a decidedly delicious option...

Jack’s the fad Jackfruit, a spiny-shelled Asian fruit that’s closely related to the fig, is set to be big news in 2017. Dubbed the ‘pulled pork for vegetarians’ it’s one of the hottest trends to emerge in the happening kitchens around the globe thanks to the fact its texture makes a convincing, all-natural alternative to meat. The largest tree-borne fruit on the planet, it’s delicious savoured with plenty of pickles and fried shallots. Try it in tacos or flatbread with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chillies and coriander.

Bear Necessities Every now and then a new idea comes along and you think to yourself now why didn’t I have that clever brainwave? Bearfaced Groceries is one such example as it’s a clever box scheme that caters for those who are gluten free, dieting or just don’t have time to get to the shops. Bearfaced Groceries’ Gluten Free box for example costs £65 and contains everything you need to create a variety of delicious dinners including gluten-free chicken, grass fed 28-day aged beef stewing steak and haddock fillets as well as a range of healthy fruit and vegetables. All Bearfaced Groceries boxes are packed full of premium quality produce that is locally sourced and handpicked by their specially trained teams. So now there really is no excuse not to eat well – if you’re starved for time. For more information visit www.

“My favourite dish is a real winter warmer. I’ve chosen braised oxtail in a red wine sauce served with roasted root vegetables and creamy mashed potato. It’s a real hearty dish and I think it’s also typical of Whiting & Hammond as it showcases classic ingredients that you don’t always see on menus anymore. Oxtail is a great test for a chef. To get the best out of this relatively cheap cut of meat, they will need to have some good cooking skills so that, when cooked properly, it results in a truly fantastic dish that’s bursting with flavour. Whenever I see it on one of our menus, I can’t resist!”


Braised oxtail in a red wine sauce

Serves: 6 Preparation Time: 20 mins Cooking Time: 2–3 hrs Ingredients • 6½ lb (3kg) oxtail (separated) • ½ cup seasoned flour • 3 tbsp olive oil • 2 tbsp chopped thyme • 2 tbsp chopped rosemary • Salt and freshly ground black pepper • 2 onions finely chopped • 5 shallots finely chopped • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks • 2 sticks celery, diced • 2 garlic cloves, sliced • ½ tbsp tomato purée • 300ml beef stock • One 750ml bottle of hearty red wine • Chopped parsley, to garnish

Directions Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Toss the oxtail in flour to coat lightly. Heat two tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over medium to high heat. In batches, add the oxtail and cook, turning occasionally for about five minutes until browned. Keep to one side. In a large flameproof casserole dish, sweat the chopped onions, herbs, garlic, celery and diced carrots in a little butter until softened. Add the tomato purée and cook out for a few

seconds. Arrange the browned oxtails over the vegetables and add the wine and enough broth to just cover the oxtails. Bring the liquid to the boil and braise the oxtails, covered, in the middle of the oven for three to three and a half hours, or until the meat is very tender but not falling off the bone. Transfer the oxtails with a slotted spoon to a bowl and keep warm. Pour the braising liquid through a fine sieve into a large saucepan and discard the solids, then skim off any fat and check the seasoning. Serve the oxtails with creamy mashed potato and roasted root vegetables.

WE’LL DRINK TO THAT WHITING & HAMMOND’S WINE SUPPLIER LINTON NEIL RECOMMENDS THE PERFECT WINE TO ENJOY WITH THIS CLASSIC OXTAIL DISH… ‘Finding your perfect partner can come with a whole string of requirements and ideals, no I’m not talking dating but matching wine and food. The scent, body, appearance and complexity all have to be considered. So my perfect match for this rich winter warmer is a mighty, full-flavoured Don David Malbec from Bodegas El Esteco. Its velvety texture, spicy dark chocolate and rich flavours hold their own against this fabulous slow roasted oxtail dish. Bodegas El Esteco was founded in 1892 by French immigrants David and Salvador Michel, and it is one of the oldest, family-owned wineries in Argentina. This hidden gem can be found nestled in Salta’s Calchaqui Valley, Argentina’s most northerly wine producing region which is home to some of the highest vineyards in the world at over 1,700 metres… Cheers!’ El Esteco Don David is available from all Whiting & Hammond pubs priced £28 a bottle, and is also available by the glass.

WORKING FOR CATERER’S BEST EMPLOYERS IN THE SMALL PUB GROUP CATEGORY 2015 Whiting & Hammond is a multiple award winning pub company with nine sites now based across Kent, Sussex and Surrey. We are very proud of our pubs and we are always looking for passionate people to join our team. We offer great training including apprenticeship schemes and the chance to progress in your career.

WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ENTHUSIASTIC: Head Chefs, Sous Chefs, Chef de Parties Commis, Kitchen Porters, Managers Assistant Managers, Bar Supervisors Front of House Staff

If you’re interested in joining our team, please email • For more information, or visit











Spotlight on a supplier In every issue of Gastro we talk to one of the key companies or producers used by Whiting & Hammond’s to ensure its food and drink is always the best quality and as local as possible. In our spring issue we chat to Penshurst Fine Foods’ founder DION MASSEY who provides a wealth of dairy and dry goods to Whiting & Hammond Please tell us a little bit about your company . . . Penshurst Fine Foods was started in 1993 in the premises of the Penshurst Village Stores with myself and my parents at the helm. Now I run the business with my wife, Lisa and our great team of staff. Originally, we were a specialist cheese wholesaler but over the years our business and relationships with our customers have grown. We have therefore expanded to cover a huge range of products including meats, dry goods and other dairy staples. We now supply 250 customers daily with their catering needs throughout the south of England. So if you have eaten out in the south you have probably enjoyed some of our products! How long have you worked with Whiting & Hammond? We have been working with Brian and his team from the very beginning in 2003. We have all grown up together, from the days

of having a coffee and bacon sandwich with Darren (who was then Head Chef at The Chaser and is now Whiting & Hammond’s Operations Manager) to now sitting down - still with a coffee and bacon sandwich – and discussing new products and prices with Colin (the company’s Executive Development Chef). What is so special about your relationship with them? Brian was one of my first customers when he was the manager of The Hare at Langton Green way back in 1993. He gave me the chance to supply him and

this is one of the key events in our company’s history. By supplying Brian, it enabled us to grow our customer base and supply hundreds of people over the years and a lot of this I put down to the great relationship we have with him and his team of chefs. Our friendship has grown over the years and we spend lots of time together – usually over a bottle or two and something to eat. Are there any unique products you supply that you wouldn’t find elsewhere? A key part of our business is keeping on top of food trends and ensuring our customers get the products they need to provide top quality food. So although we do sell a lot of food ‘staples’ we also have a range of

more unique items such as our smoked goods. Using smoking as a technique in order to bring another dimension to the flavour of food has proved to be very popular. So, as well as supplying classic oak chips, we also have more unique varieties available such as maple, which gives a lovely sweet and nutty smokiness to food. You cannot go too far wrong with a maple smoked ham joint! How important is traceability and food’s provenance to you? They are both incredibly important to us. From a health and safety perspective we need to ensure any food we sell to our customers can be traced back to a producer, so traceability is an absolute must. We have also seen a rise in consumer interest over the years in the provenance of what they are eating and that’s really great to see. People want to know more about not just what they are eating but also

GASTRO | 15 where it has come from and how it was made. It is therefore very important to us that we can bridge the gap between producer and consumer and get people talking more about food. What, in your opinion, are the hero products Kent and East Sussex generates? Kent and East Sussex are great producers of quality British food. Romney Marsh Lamb is an amazing product that can only be sourced from Kent. Grazing the sheep on the natural salt marshes gives the meat a richer, sweeter flavour and helps add some lovely marbling to ensure it stays moist. Then of course there is the cheese. This area is a prolific producer of top quality ones including Kentish Blue from Kingcott Dairy in Staplehurst, and Olde Sussex and Stonegate Goat’s Cheese from The Traditional Cheese Dairy in Stonegate. A dollop or two of the delicious chutneys available from Deerview Fine Sussex Foods in Haywards Heath will finish these off a treat. Do you also work with other suppliers outside of the local area and if so why? Well as much as Kent and East Sussex have a number of hero products, it is important we also look at the great produce coming out of other regions. This is to ensure we can keep providing top quality, interesting products for our customers like smoked sea salt from Cornwall and going back to some classic cheeses like Roquefort or Reblochon from France to buying maple syrup from Canada. It’s all about getting the correct ingredients from the correct source. Can you predict any key food trends for 2017? Predicting food trends is always a tricky one! Picking up on a few which started to emerge in 2016, I would say we will see a continuing rise in pickles and preserves being given the attention they deserve. Kimchi – a Korean dish of seasoned vegetables, is another that really burst onto the food scene last year and I think products like that will keep growing in popularity. Freeze dried products should also start to gain some more momentum as they are a great way to preserve and showcase an ingredient’s properties.

Drink this in Isn’t it annoying when you make yourself a hot drink to enjoy on the go and by the time you come to drink it it’s lukewarm? Well thanks to the Corkcicle Tumbler from Root 7 tepid tea or cold coffee will be a thing of the past as this clever cup will keep your drink warm for up to three hours. It will also keep your summer drinks ice cold for up to nine hours, too. Available in a variety of cool colours it also looks super stylish. Available online from www. in two sizes: Small (473ml) for £22 and Large (710ml) for £25.

A cut above Taylor’s Eye Witness has a tranche of utterly covetable and beautiful products that will make the perfect gift for the stylish foodie. Their new range for 2017 focuses on the trend for rose gold in the home with coloured ceramic knife blades and marble accessories. Some of their glamorous gadgets also include

Dulux’s 2017 Colour of the Year: Denim Drift, a blueish-grey tonal which perfectly suits their sought after signature range. Products are available in a range of cook’s knife sets, steak and cheese knives, as well as kitchen gadgets and accessories. Prices start from £6, Available from Robert Dyas and all good department stores.

In the mix Whiskle™ combines the two essential tools for making perfect pancakes in one; a good-sized whisk to aerate the mixture and a silicone bowl scraper to save time, reduce mess and save on extra washing up. Whiskle™ is available from Joseph and Joseph for £10,

Gastro Gadgets Any keen cook will know that the right ingredients are only half the story when it comes to creating a fantastic feast. Another essential element is a clever piece of equipment to help you seal the culinary deal. Here are our top buys for this season…

Kitchen confidential Tapping into the copper trend is this stunning KitchenAid 175 Artisan 4.8L Stand Mixer which performs as good as it looks. Essential for whipping everything from cakes and bakes to soufflés into shape it will be your best friend in the kitchen and impress any visitors thanks to its state-ofthe art design and performance. The KitchenAid 175 Artisan 4.8L Stand Mixer costs £739.95 and is available from John Lewis stores and www.

Gastro Spring edition 2017  

Turn for more on the Great British Bake Off star Candice Brown and to discover all the latest food and drink news in our latest edition of G...

Gastro Spring edition 2017  

Turn for more on the Great British Bake Off star Candice Brown and to discover all the latest food and drink news in our latest edition of G...