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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Homegrown food on the menu at Rheged

A LOCAL TV chef has joined forces with Rheged Discovery centre, to develop the cafe’s menu while championing Cumbrian produce. RACHEL HERMOLLE finds out more

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COOKING UP A TREAT Chef Peter Sidwell, centre, and butcher Dave Morland, with chef Holly Robinson, in the kitchens at Rheged Discovery Centre, near Penrith LOUISE PORTER

WESTMORLAND LTD began life when the developers of the M6 approached John and Barbara Dunning, of High Chapel Farm at Tebay, near Penrith, with a view to building the six-lane highway through their land.

The Dunnings worked with the developers to minimise the impact and kept some of the land on either side of the motorway to open a small service area.

Today the company also owns Rheged Discovery Centre, the Westmorland Hotel and the award-winning Tebay Services and Farm Shops, at Junction 38.

With its roots in farming, Westmorland Ltd has remained passionate about local produce, establishing a strong reputation for quality and individuality with a strong local and artisan focus.

“I am like a kid in a sweetshop at Rheged,” explains celebrity chef, Peter Sidwell, who joined forces with the company in January to launch a new cafe, Peter Sidwell@Rheged Cafe, which offers a fresh approach to local produce.

He says: “A chef is only as good as his ingredients, and with Westmorland Ltd having their own farm and butchers, I just had to get involved.

“I am a regular customer at Rheged and always stop at Tebay service station even if close to home. I love their ethos and believe we are a stronger force working together.

“It is a great privilege to be able to see the job right the way through, from watching the animals being reared on the farm to serving the meat in the cafe, it really completes the whole circle.

“The farm is the backbone of Westmorland Ltd, and something we are very proud of. Allowing customers to see where their food comes from is very important and an incredibly powerful tool for business.”

Throwing himself into the heart and soul of Rheged, Peter is attempting to infuse Westmorland’s love of Cumbria and home-grown food with his 17 years of experience and talent for producing flavoursome whole-hearted menus.

He says: “I have been lucky enough to travel around the world with my job so I have experienced lots of different cuts of meat.

“My style is very global in its approach but centred around local produce. I like to take quality Cumbrian ingredients and fuse them with a global perspective. I have recently been working on Westmorland beef burritos.”

Butchery manager David Morley supplies cuts of meat to each of the company’s outlets, and works closely with Peter to create the cafe’s menus.

He says: “All of the beef, lamb and mutton used in the cafe is from our own farm, offering customers full traceability and low food miles. This ensures that the meat has the best possible flavour while helping to support the local economy.

“I usually supply Peter with a full carcase of beef and he devises dishes using all the cuts, so the menu features a lot of beefburgers, steak and ale pies, lasagne and shepherd’s pie. Nothing goes to waste.

“We are all committed to what we do which shows in the end product.”

Designing a menu using meat reared locally is something Peter feels passionately about: “It is very easy for a chef to call the butchers and order 12 rib-eye steaks, nose to tail cookery is much more of a challenge. I find it a real thrill to be given a cut of meat by Dave and then see the amazing dish we end up with in the cafe at the end.

“At most restaurants and cafes you speak to the butcher once a month, so it is a real treat to work with Dave so closely.”

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