Pub chef, Jason Rowlands, discovered his passion for pastry thanks to one of Jus-Rol’s exclusive development days.
Jason emerged from his unique culinary session a changed man – with increased product knowledge, great recipe ideas and improved pastry techniques that he discovered during his day cooking alongside the Pastry People. It means that customers at The Wiremill Inn, a 15th Century pub on its own lake in a beautiful part of rural Surrey, are now enjoying the benefits of his new enthusiasm for pastry.
“I was really impressed with just how flexible pastry is and the fact that you can add your own twist to it by, for example, flavouring it with lavender, as we did for the Pigeon in Lavender dish or decorating it for the Salmon & Spinach Caloubiac.
I liked the recipes; they were deceptively easy but had that ‘wow’ factor which will impress customers. The Pigeon in Lavender, for example, is a great talking piece and I think the Salmon & Spinach Caloubiac would go down very well with my customers. The Chocolate Croustade Twist would also be ideal for my customers who come in for morning coffee.” Jason was particularly impressed with the Jus-Rol shortcrust pastry he cooked up on the day – but didn’t want to reveal too much about it to his wife, a baker who makes her own pastry.
“Don’t tell her, but I think Jus-Rol shortcrust is better than hers! I’m used to working with puff and filo pastry but didn’t understand what could be achieved with shortcrust. I’ve always seen it as a base for pies but I wanted to find out what its true potential is and the Jus-Rol development day really showed me that. It was absolutely brilliant – a really productive day.
As my career has developed and I’ve become responsible for developing menus, I’ve discovered just how versatile pastry can be. The Wiremill is all about good pub grub – and pastry dishes such as pies and Beef Wellington are at the heart of traditional British food.”
A free house “gastro” pub in Lingfield, Surrey, The Wiremill serves an average of 300 covers a day, with its offering of “good honest pub grub” and its Sunday Roasts are legendary with customers. Jason says: “We maintain a quality and consistency with everything we do as we rely a great deal on word of mouth. The pub is doing very well and continues to grow in profit every year. Our customers are affluent and travel from inside the M25: we attract a cross-section of people ranging from young couples to more mature customers.”
The pub’s signature dish is Beef Wellington which is on the menu all year round, another popular choice is its Steak & Kidney Pie while its third pastry option is Jason’s Vegetarian Strudel.
“Flavour and quality are everything and you just don’t get that when you buy in pre-made dishes. For people to come back, you need to give them a taste of mum’s cooking and deliver a high standard. This can only be done if you are in control of what comes out of the kitchen.
It doesn’t matter how much care has gone into the filling, if the pastry isn’t right it overshadows everything. So much can go wrong making your own pastry, particularly with puff and filo, which is why we use Jus-Rol. It’s reliable, saves on preparation time and it means we can focus on getting the rest of the dish right. I’ve tried making my own pastry in the past but it’s just too time consuming.”
Jason, who is a self taught chef, and has been in the catering industry for 15 years, is also responsible for overseeing the kitchen and menu at another pub, The Grove Ferry in Canterbury, Kent. He and his partners are also due to open a third pub in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, by the end of the year where Jason will also take charge of the food operation.
Like many pub chefs, Jason faces a growing challenge at a time when the licensed trade is under pressure because of the economic downturn but he is putting his faith in quality. “It is hard work keeping the quality of the menu at the level that we are renowned for. The recession means people are eating more for special occasions, or as a treat, and because of this the expectations are really high.
Pub chefs are under so much pressure financially these days with budgets, limited resources and time constraints it would be impossible to make the pastry yourself. Chefs need to optimise pastry products that are available, bring a value to the operation and help deliver that quality. Jus-Rol does just that.”
Gemma Buckley-Roberts / Jellybean Creative Solutions, 4 Bridge Street, Leatherhead KT22 8BZ
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