Join us for our first collaboration with the awesome people from Nelson Street.
Inspires Dining Head Chef, George and Louis owner of Nelson Street (currently Louis’ Place) will be behind the pass for four Monday nights during December giving guests a fine dining taste of Christmas in Buckingham.
Guests will enjoy five courses including one of Inspires Dining’s signature canapés, mushroom suet log with truffle mayo, Louis’ crispy duck with watermelon and chilli frosted cashews and finished with macarons from Pure Patisserie.
In addition to a carefully crafted menu, as much attention has been paid to creating a wine flight paring to compliment the dishes for £30 per head.
I am excited for Inspires Dining’s first collaboration, especially with it being with Nelson Street as I have always enjoyed Louis’ style of food when working with him previously. Being based in Buckingham I am also keen to showcase local produce and cook some really good food for people in the local community and beyond.
George, Head Chef at Inspires Dining
Bookings have already started to be taken by Nelson Street’s loyal patrons so book early to avoid disappointment.
In August myself and my family swapped our usual summer trip to the states for some Caribbean sunshine in Barbados.
Those of you that have been to Barbados will know that it has an awful lot going for it…the coffee not being one of them! As someone who has barista coffee on tap normally, the exploration of finding somewhere for a decent coffee was an amusing one, but discovering Keshwan in Coffee House Italia (that actually had oat milk) after a few days was a great find. He would have my oat milk flat white ready for me each morning as he saw me arrive, awesome service!
As a chef who works as far away from the sea as possible in the UK, obtaining fish always seems to pose a challenge, which is a shame to me because actually, I prefer cooking fish to meat. It is crazy to me that we live on an island surrounded by water but to get a reliable commercial supplier is one of my biggest barriers. Often my suppliers want to try and throw portions of fish at me rather than fresh whole fish. It is funny because I remember a conversation recently where I called my supplier for a whole fish, they said they couldn’t supply it but they could supply the fillets, baffling.
We love a good fishing trip when we are on holiday so I was really excited that we were going to have the opportunity to do this and see what the tropical seas had to offer. As per usual my brother Jack was in his element and always catches the biggest fish. We managed to catch some barracuda, which for me with my chef head on was really exciting. Barracudas are a subtropical fish so realistically not something I will be cooking in the UK unless I am ok with the miles it has travelled or have a lot of money to spend. We have caught Barracuda before but have never been able to eat it as what they consume in the seas near Florida can make you really ill, but the sea in Barbados is much cleaner so they are fine.
I was so happy with my barracuda, we took it back to the dock where I filleted it, wrapped it up in paper and headed off in a taxi back to our villa. There really is something so cool to think of all the processes required to get a fish to a plate at work and I just had my lunch straight out the sea ready to go on the BBQ. Never seen a cargo crate, never seen a delivery van, never seen a fridge. Literally, ocean, taxi, BBQ, plate! Awesome.
When Laura, a good friend of ID, said she was entering the Bucks County Show this year, I was instantly intrigued: what on earth was she actually talking about?!
After a bit of research, I realised that it was right up our street. A food hall full of local producers as well as some awesome examples of home bakers and gardeners, using and growing local products. We arrived at about 11:30am and of course made a beeline for the food tent. As a result, this meant that by 11:34am we had already sampled at least three types of Foxdenton Gin, with our particular favourite being the Winslow Plum. A quick browse on their website this morning I am gutted to have missed their Dark Lantern rum so I will certainly be picking one of them up in the future (We’re big fans of rum at IDHQ).
The food hall was buzzing with people all there for little taste tests of what the producers had to offer. One thing you will always notice if you go to a local food market is the willingness of the producers for you to sample their product. My mum, who accompanied me for the day, questioned at one point if it is worth the exhibitors giving away so much, but knowing what it is like from the other side of the table, you spend so long mastering the products that you just want to share it with everyone. Yes, it is ultimately a sales technique but just a small conversation with any of the artisan producers and you realise just how proud and passionate they are.
After a quick lap of the food hall we moved on to see how Laura had performed in the categories she had entered items into, as well as a quick scope out of some groups we could potentially enter next year (once the ID allotment has more than just mud!). As someone who has adapted very well to suburban life in Milton Keynes I cannot lie, I was instantly taken back to my village roots, seeing all these tables full of cakes, flowers and produce. It was great! Then the educator in me also loved to see how all these people entering each class had interpreted the exact same recipe – apart from the Victoria sponges, they all looked so different. The vegetable cake section particularly caught our eye; courgettes are in abundance this time of year so we could potentially develop an ID courgette cake for next year (although a year development maybe taking it a little too seriously!). We were really proud to see that Laura had come first in class for her lemon curd, but her mum really stole the show with plenty of 1st, 2nd and 3rds. We might have to send Laura in to get some of her recipes!
All in all, it was a really good day out; later in the day I got chatting with the Buckinghamshire beekeepers and sampled some of their local honey fudge, so that is one item I will definitely be encouraging chef George to re-create. When I went back to the food hall later on, so many producers’ presentations were looking quite bare, which was great to see.
Team ID give their best ways to get through the sunny days..
1 Advanced preparation. Mornings are cooler so use this time to cook a few elements in advance that can be chilled in fridge while you’re out enjoying the sunshine (or at work, boo). Try any of these below to make an awesome salad:
Roasted sweet potato cubes – either plain or with a little of your favourite seasoning
Boiled new potatoes – Jersey Royals are the best when available
Steamed green vegetables such as mange tout, sugar snaps and asparagus
Roasted sweet peppers (remove the skins)
Grilled aubergine or courgette
Any kind of grain, quinoa cooked in beetroot or carrot juice is a particular favourite.
2 Smoothies. Keep some berries and bananas in the freezer, then whizz them together with either a bit of juice or milk to make one of your 5 a day into a super cool and refreshing treat.
3 Iced coffee. We don’t know about you but even on a hot day we still need our caffeine fix! If you have an espresso machine then great, make yourself a double; if not then make yourself a really small, really strong instant shot (if you have sugar, add when it is hot). Pour it over a glass of ice, top up with milk and have a quick stir. Delicious without the coffee chain price tag.
4 Eat plenty of food high in water, such and watermelon, strawberries and cucumber, as these all help to regulate your core body temperature. Avoid anything spicy or high in saturated fat such as fried food as these can contribute to raising your temperature even higher.
5 H20. Nothing fancy, nothing special, just plain old water from a tap and plenty of it. You will not want to do any of the above if you are dehydrated, feeling terribly lethargic with a headache. Just please think of our pals the turtles and carry a reusable bottle with you rather than single use, disposable plastic.
Exciting news from IDHQ this month. We are now the proud owners of an allotment. Yay!
We are not going to lie, we are very new to this. Although head chef, George, has been cooking for many years and use to spend time with his Grandmother in the garden we are far from green fingered! But…like a microcosm for the industry as a whole, we must do better and learn to be more sustainable and self sufficient. Luckily for us we have a few family members to help us along the way.
Why is it important to us?
When we look at the way food trends and lifestyles have changed post war in the UK the abundance of food we have now has made us nothing but lazy for living from the land and understanding and respecting food. We are very lucky that most of us have not had to suffer the hardship of rationing, we have supermarkets full of food to shop weekly and we do not have to preserve the seasonal food because if we want strawberries in December then they can be flow in from Morocco. Basically, we got rich and we got lazy.
We need to recapture the understanding of growing produce for the table that our grandparents had.
George, Head Chef
One of the joys about travelling is to taste the food and drink of the local land, in doing this you get an understanding of what that village or town represents, how they cook and eat is in the DNA of the people. What it can grow, what it can’t grow. You could maybe still say this about some towns in the UK, but rural Buckinghamshire, what does it taste of? That is what we are trying to find out, using local produce and growing our own.
So, we are starting small, got some beans, carrots and beetroot to set us off but we are looking forward to what we will learn to grow and serve up on a menu in the future.
We would love to hear any tips you have in the comments below.
The “Attenborough effect” is hitting all the headlines currently and you cannot go on social media much these days without seeing someone highlighting a supermarket’s use of unnecessary plastic. The food manufacturing sector is getting a bit of a bad rep at the moment but really they are just taking the flack for a whole sector that could do better.
Similarly to the manufacturing and food producers, the pressure from consumers to have the perfect product, as well as scrutiny from local health authorities, has led to the Hospitality and Food Sector to be responsible for 2.87 million tonnes of waste each year. Of this waste, 1.6 millions tonnes is packaging, of which 46% is recycled*. A lot of this can be down to local councils and systems outside the control of outlets, but with only 12% of food waste being recycled there certainly seems to be a problem, especially when you consider that 45% of food waste is from preparation.
A bit of background…
Having worked in the hospitality sector since the early 00’s everything we were taught was about “the customer experience”, which is fair. So when it came down to food, working for an international hotel chain in the restaurant, it was all about ensuring the customer at 6am and the customer at 11am had the exact same offering. The waste was UNREAL. Just think that this was going on throughout every hotel of this brand (and probably others) all over the world, EVERY DAY.
Since then, moving away from hotels and into restaurants, there is a lot less food waste, but still the same focus on customer experience, which creates a different kind of waste. Chain restaurants, with their obsession for brand standards and economies of scale, lead to products being pre-prepared and provided as part of a single, massive contract with a national producer, before being distributed up and down the country rather than working with local, less travelled products.
All of this is on top of strict quality control measures enforced by local environmental health officers, who despite having stringent guidelines for us all to follow in order to serve safe food, take no responsibility in ensuring food waste is controlled. A time for a change on this perhaps? Wouldn’t it be great to see a similar star system to acknowledge responsible food production, as well as being safe for consumption?
What we are doing…
At Inspires Dining we are passionate about reducing our impact on the planet and operating responsibly.
With this in mind we have worked with Richard Lewis from WasteLESS Consulting to review our processes and take a close look at what we are doing well and where we can do better.
The highlights from the review where we are already making positive steps were:
Buying locally from independent suppliers, enabling us to purchase packet free
Creating food menus that produce little waste or waste that can be used in another way
Where food waste is unavoidable, we compost as much as we can
Using environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals
Utilising re-usable cloths and linen including napkins made from scrap material
With years of restaurant experience, cooking and serving for everyone up to Royalty, our team know how to provide a professional service. In this blog, we’ll take a look at five things that you can rely on when you book an Inspires Dining event as well as discovering a little bit more about us and what we believe in.
Restaurant experience at home
Just like when you go out for a meal we do all the shopping, set up, cooking, serving and cleaning for you – the only difference is that you can wear slippers to the dinner table, if you so choose.
So why at home? Why not just go out for dinner? As restaurant professionals we’re passionate about restaurants and the experience they provide; they are usually lively with a unique buzz and atmosphere as well as their choice of food. However, they can also be, noisy, un-intimate and with lots of hidden costs (service, wine, baby sitter, taxi). When you book an Inspires Dining dinner, you’re guaranteed to be the centre of attention all evening; you just pay a set cost and you can give the baby sitter a night off.
Create your own menu with Chef
When booking with us you can choose from one of our pre-set menus and special offers or to make the occasion more unique to you, Chef will consult with you to create a menu with all your favourite elements. For example, allow us to help recreate a memory from a holiday or an anniversary for your dinner party.
If you have a dietary request then you will be all too familiar with “the allergy folder”, which is a pet peeve of ours. We believe that good food should be accessible to all and with our years of experience there are few allergies we’re yet to cater for, so we will create a menu that means no-one will be missing out.
Professional table service and set up
All packages come with a professional service team as standard. When we arrive we will set up the table for you and bring all the crockery and cutlery we need to serve. Alcohol is not included in the packages but the team will serve your arrival drinks and wine throughout the meal.
Table-side chef interaction
Inspires Dining is born from a passion for creating great food using seasonal produce and most importantly having a bit of fun, so no-one could better to explain the dishes to you than Chef. Food service is an art, with a story behind each dish including the elements and the flavours so our chef will explain this to you. The kitchen is always open, so if you enjoy watching people cook, come in and ask Chef your culinary questions.
We pride ourselves on having high, professional, restaurant industry standards and we want to reassure every customer of this. When you book a dinner with us you can feel safe in the knowledge that we are fully insured and DBS checked. It is important to us that from the very start of our journey our HQ was registered with environmental health and received five stars on its first inspection.