Pastry Perfect Panel - The Swan

In the last year, The Swan in Felsted, North Essex has transformed itself into an award winning establishment that averages 700 covers a week. Loved by foodies, customers have been known to travel over 70 miles just to enjoy a meal at the 100 year old pub. In the final part of Jus-Rol™ Professional’s Pastry Perfect Series we catch up with Alec Maxfield, Head Chef at the Swan to find out his secret to running a successful menu.

“When I joined The Swan it wasn’t popular with the locals and it didn’t have the greatest reputation,” reveals Alec. “In the last ten months all this has changed, I work with five fantastic chefs who are committed to providing their customers with the best products at the very best prices. This has meant that we work with the seasons and the local produce available, at the moment 90% of our menu is made up of Game because we are in shooting season. I work really closely with my suppliers, if they come to me with anything I will try and work it into the menu and have it on the specials board. It means our menu is constantly evolving and we get a lot of repeat business with customers wanting to see what is new on the menu.”

With The Swan’s menus regularly updated, Alec looks to a number of places for new inspirations:

“Eating out is the best way of getting new recipe ideas; it helps you keep in touch with what is happening in the industry. I keep a catalogue of menus from where ever I’ve been to use as inspiration and also try and put a different take on classic dishes and present them in my own way.”

Alec’s commitment to quality and presentation is working, over the last 12 months the team at The Swan have tripled their turnover with food sales making up to 75% of their business.

“We’ve tried to make our food as accessible as possible by keeping our pricing middle range. We also put on promotions to give our customers added value such as Wednesday’s Steak Night, two course lunch for £7.50 and a Ladies Night when they get 25% off their bill. Having said that, we still achieve a 70% GP by making as much as we can ourselves and being clever with ingredients, to make them go as far as possible.”

With thirteen years experience as a chef and working within the pub and restaurant industry, including a three Michelin star restaurant Alec was the perfect candidate to join Jus-Rol Professional’s Pastry Perfect Panel and put its new products through its paces.

“Pastry is so important to a dish, when 90% of your dish is pastry it has to be the best and it has to be right, otherwise it’ll overshadow the rest of your ingredients. I’ve used Jus-Rol Professional in the past and am a big fan off their Puff pastry, so I was interested to see what they had developed. The Twisted Corner Puff Pastry Basket looked really pretty on the plate; it rose well and tasted great – the fact that you can use it for a sweet or savoury dish makes it a really good, versatile product. For my recipes I used the Shortcrust Ovals to create a Baked Sausage, Caramelised Onion & Sage Pie. The pastry was easy to work with and I used it to put a twist on a traditional Pork Pie; the dish has gone down really well on our lunch and snacks menu – especially with our shooting party and female customers. The Bitter Chocolate & Pecan Nut Tart is a classic combination; it has a fluffy texture which makes it perfect for customers looking for a lighter yet indulgent dessert. Using the Shortcrust Flan Case, it is one of the easiest recipes to make and is a great money maker for chefs looking for new chocolate dessert offerings.”

So following the trial would Alec recommend Jus-Rol Professional to other chefs?

“Cooking is my passion; it is all about trying new things. Jus-Rol Professional is guaranteed to work and allows you to experiment and get you out of your cooking comfort zone; I’d recommend Jus-Rol to any chef looking for new recipe inspirations.”

For more information on Jus-Rol call 0800 626 893

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