Q&A: The seasonal produce at Birtley House


- Credit: Archant

Known for the fantastic fare on their menu, at Birtley House in Bramley they really go the extra mile to ensure their residents enjoy delicious, seasonal produce. Here, we chat to marketing manager Janet Hall to find out more

Is it fair to say that expectations of care home food have risen in recent years – and, if so, what do you think are the main reasons behind this?

With the popularity and range of cookery and food-related programmes on the TV ever increasing, there seems to have been a corresponding rise in the expectations of us all to enjoy the best, seasonal produce available and to try new recipes and flavours. Our Residents, their families and our staff are no exception to this trend.

How have you gone about addressing this at Birtley?

Our Head of Kitchen, Steve Morton, and his team strive to ensure that the individual requirements of our Residents are incorporated into the menus. The monthly, informal chats on food-related topics with Steve are very popular with our Residents and providing invaluable insight into their varied likes and dislikes.

What are the most popular dishes on your menus these days?

The most popular meals involve fresh, seasonal home-cooking, so that encompasses all of our meals really! However, fish and chips, all homemade of course, remains high on the list of favourites, as do roasts.

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Are their any creations that your chefs are particularly proud of?

On Boxing Day we will serve Boned Birtley Goose stuffed with homemade pork and apricot stuffing, marinated Birtley pork tenderloin and saddle of wild rabbit; served with a mini game-pie, a madeira jus, dauphinoise potatoes and seasonal vegetables!

It’s always good to have the opportunity to produce some exquisite and delicious canapés when we have a Residents drinks party or special celebration at Birtley. The tasty morsels look so pretty and inviting – it’s amazing how many will be consumed even by those who normally have very small appetites!

Have any of your chefs got a particularly interesting background?

Steve used to work in Formula 1 Promotions. In this role he was part of a team running a Pit-Stop Challenge competition in France, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Germany and Spain. When his wife was expecting their first child he decided it was time to return to his roots, and go back to being a Chef.

Do you work with local producers to source your ingredients?

Absolutely! Rawlings of Cranleigh for meat; Cheesmans for fruit and vegetables; Godalming Fish and West Horsley Dairy.

We understand that you are also an innovative producer in your own right. Tell us more…

The Birtley Estate provides much of our seasonal fruit and vegetables, with any excess produce being made into jams and chutneys. We produce our own pork, honey, geese and cider, much of which is distilled in Apple Brandy at the Silent Pool Distillery. It’s certainly a Nursing Home with a difference!

Are there any local chefs/restaurants/pubs that have provided inspiration?

Steve has been inspired by the use of game and local, seasonal produce at Sands at Bleak House on the edge of Horsell Common.

Birtley House Nursing Home, Bramley, Guildford, GU5 0LB | 01483 892055 | www.birtleyhouse.co.uk