Countryside Heroes: Michelin Star Restaurant Pensons Launches Provisions for our People
One Michelin Star restaurant, Pensons, located on the 1,200 acre Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border, has launched Provisions for our People - an initiative to deliver free meals to key front-line NHS workers and elderly and medically vulnerable people in the local area.
With the restaurant doors shut until further notice, staff have been furloughed and under the terms of the Job Retention Scheme, cannot work but are allowed to volunteer.
On hearing this news, the team were keen to adapt and create a new ‘normal’ that allowed a skeleton crew of chefs to keep on cooking and the team, including the gardeners and office staff, to be part of a shared vision to give something back to the local community, which is at the very heart of the restaurant’s ethos.
It was also important for the team to continue to have a sense of routine, focus and purpose, vital for everyone’s well-being in these unprecedented times and the idea of, Provisions for our People was born.
Pensons - Provisions for our People
Pensons asked the community via social media, their mailing list and regional media to nominate local individuals deserving of a free three course meal and asked people to visit the Pensons website to submit a nomination.
Cooking for the Community
Pensons Head Chef, Chris Simpson, is adapting his fine dining menu to create a selection of freshly prepared and nutritional heat-at-home ready meals using produce grown or foraged on the Netherwood Estate or donated from trusted, high quality local suppliers such as Legges of Bromyard and Mawley Milk. To date kind donations of produce and food packaging have been received along with offers from local residents to assist with the delivery of food parcels in the locality.
Using his talent for combining flavours and passion for cooking dishes inspired by the seasons, Chris has created a simple seasonal menu with provenance at its heart, whilst having to ensure that they are easy to portion, transport and re-heat. Dishes to date have included; Venison Ragu, Chicken,Mushroom and Wild Garlic Casserole, Wild Garlic & Potato Soup and Rhubarb Curd.
Owner, Peta Darnley, comments; “We have been thinking creatively about ways that a skeleton team, working separately to each other, can volunteer to help the local community to offer seasonal meals and bring a taste of spring to those most in need at this time. As a team we decided on the initiative Provisions for our People. It is a small initiative but there is often a lack of resources in rural areas to support those who are self-isolating for age or medical reasons and like everywhere else in the country, our NHS workers are fully stretched, so this gives them a respite from having to think about what to cook at the end of a long shift.
We have been working with some of our fantastic local suppliers who have generously donated ingredients for us to cook with. Pensons Provisions has become a great example of the local community working together. If there are any other producers and growers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire area who would like to contribute to this initiative, we would love to hear from them.”
With a focus on Easter last week, a few of the team made incredible hand-crafted chocolate Easter eggs which were delivered as a surprise to local primary school children whose families are finding life at the moment particularly tough financially (children who are on free school meals) and therefore might not otherwise get one.
To invest further in community spirit, Pensons has a new Seasonal Recipe Inspiration page on their website to inspire cooks at home with innovative ways of using seasonal ingredients and cupboard staples.
Dig for your Dinner!
Supporting the nations renewed interest in gardening as the spring sunshine makes a welcome appearance, the Netherwood Estate gardeners will be offering gardening tips and answering questions for those using the time at home to get digging and would like some advice.
Pensons, Stoke Bliss, WR15 8RT t. 01885 410321 www.pensons.co.uk www.netherwoodestate.co.uk
Instagram - @pensonsrestaurant
Twitter - @pensonsuk