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Wedding bells…

We’re certainly hitting the ground running here at The Eastbury and The Three Wishes in 2011. It’s looking like it will be a very exciting year, especially if (like me) you’re a real fan of weddings ­ and I don’t just mean the Royal one! Last weekend alone we had three happy couples come to see us to start planning their big day. I really hope we have some lovely weather like last year as our walled garden provides a perfect backdrop for those all important photographs!

Things are also going fantastically well at The Three Wishes! Our team of chefs created some really exciting menus last year and as I write this they are in the process of creating a new menu for Spring ­ fingers crossed we will have some new dishes to sample very shortly ­ one of the perks of the job! 

Along with this they are also starting to think about this year’s Pancake Race, which is creeping up on us already. This year we are having two heats, one for adults, (our reigning winner has taken the crown two years in a row!!!) and one for the children in Sherborne Primary’s Year 6. It is always a very exciting day (for children and adults alike!) and last year ITV Westcountry even came to film the race ­ so you may want to pencil the date in your diary!


2010………………….what a year!

It has been another whirl-wind year at The Eastbury and The Three Wishes and we can only hope 2011 will bring as much excitement!


We had an ITV Westcountry news reporter (and camera man!) join in our now infamous Pancake Race in Sherborne!

Camera small

We opened our new alfresco Bistro in the summer…………complete with woolly blankets!

The Bistro launch

We won Gold in the Taste of the West awards in the Restaurant category…..what a result


We were awarded Silver for our environmental credentials by the Green Tourism Business Scheme ­ something the team is very proud of………



And Ben our 18 year old Trainee Chef was crowned overall South West Chef of the Year……



Not bad for 365 days!!! We are now all looking forward to Christmas and New Year and of course what 2011 will bring. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,




 The Autumn Supper Club


Our Autumn Supper Club at The Eastbury was a real celebration of 2010 for many reasons and it was a fantastic night.  We celebrated winning Gold in the Taste of the West awards’ Restaurant Category; we celebrated the overwhelming success of my team of young chefs in various competitions over the past couple of years and we celebrated Nicky and Paul (the owners of The Eastbury) reaching their 10th year with the Hotel - which is why I had this lovely cake made for the occasion!

The supper was also very important as it gave me an opportunity to thank some of our wonderful local producers without which, we would never have enjoyed all the successes which we were celebrating. At the dinner there was Tim from the Somerset Cider Brandy Company; Ted and Jane who grow some of our veg; John Rowswell who also supplies me with fantastic veg; Mike from Honeycombe Shoot in Sherborne and George and Nick from Dorset Down Mushrooms, who supply me with …..well I’ll let you work that one out! It was great to able to thank them all in person on the night, and there are many more which I would like to thank for all the hard work they put in to producing such wonderful food so thanks guys!

We also welcomed John Sheaves, Chief Executive of Taste of the West and his wife, Becky who is Food Editor for the Western Morning News ­ and big thanks also go to them for their continued support.

The menu was a celebration in itself … a celebration of the Westcountry. From Honeycombe Shoot venison, to diver caught Lyme Bay scallops, and from blackberry posset with curd and caviar to roasted loin and slow cooked belly of Dorset pork with Monty’s mash, young carrots, crackling and Burrow Hill cider, it was a selection of the best the Westcountry has to offer …. and let me tell you that’s pretty much the best there is!


The supper was capped off with a cake that my team of chefs and I had been working on in secret ­ we called it the ‘farms, fields and suppliers of the Westcountry’ cake!







A golden taste of the west  


On the back of our success in the Green Tourism Business Scheme, we now have another reason to celebrate - After winning Bronze in 2008, and Silver in 2009, we have now been awarded a Gold award in the Taste of the West (TOTW) Restaurant Category in 2010!

Over the past three years we have strived to ensure that the experience of eating at The Eastbury is always special and the Gold award from Taste of the West is a great big pat on the back! The TOTW awards take in all aspects of eating at a restaurant, from sourcing the perfect local produce that is perfectly in season, to the knowledge, care and attention of our front of house team, the way we serve, the atmosphere and the credit we give to local producers, everything is taken into account, so to win Gold is something we are all totally thrilled with.

Brett, our Head Chef has a cracking little team here which we are now looking to build in 2011. ­ Our young chefs have set the bar very high, with Ben, the youngest being crowned South West Chef of the Year for 2010, but we now need a trainee with equal drive and passion to help us achieve Gold again next year ­- so if that’s you please get in touch!





 The green team!  

We recently mentioned on the blog that we are members of the Green Tourism Business Scheme, and as part of that our green credentials as a business were assessed. Last week we were awarded Silver for our environmental attributes ­ something we are very proud of!


 We strive every day to ensure that the Hotel is as green as it can possibly be whilst at the same time providing guests with the levels of luxury and comfort they have come to expect from us.  One of the key features highlighted was our commitment to local sourcing. Not just in terms of food but across the board. Brett and his team of Chefs do an awesome job of sourcing much of the ingredients for our menus from in and around Sherborne, but it doesn’t stop there!


Our housekeeping team (seen modelling in the picture!) for example, only use ‘Guarantee’ the great little laundrette in Sherborne. Our drinks are all sourced locally; from our cider made at Burrow Hill, to our Sicilian lemonade …..don’t worry that’s from Luscombe!


Our whole team here puts in a lot of hard work to make The Eastbury as green as possible and we don’t intend to stop ­ next up its sensory lights in the hallways, and then who knows from there!







Visit Eastbury

We recently welcomed the representative from Visit Britain to The Eastbury for our annual assessment. We just received the report back and we are all delighted with it!


Brett and our team of Chefs have won a lot of accolades over the past year or so including our trainee Ben winning South West Chef of the Year, which is something we are all immensely proud of. Schemes like Visit Britain though not only take account of our food, but also the housekeeping, maintenance, service and overall hospitality.


Our team work incredibly hard here to ensure that our guests have a relaxing and refreshing break and that means that everything is just right. From the impeccable local food, to crisp, clean, linen on the beds, the immaculate and inviting, warm and cosy lounge, to our beautiful walled gardens, everyone plays their part in making it all work.


We actually won an extra award for our breakfasts and our walled garden received special mention as a real asset for the Hotel, something our gardeners were very pleased about!


We have entered the Green Tourism Award’s and should hear back from their assessors soon ­ so fingers crossed for the next one!





Brett and Matt foraging for Rosehips 


The last days of summer


It’s been non-stop at the Hotel and The Three Wishes over the past few months, I haven’t had a moment to catch my breath, but as the Chef the things that are keeping me busy are exactly what you strive for. 

We opened the brand new alfresco Bistro with a new menu which we also serve in the Conservatory Restaurant. We’ve had over 20 beautiful weddings spread throughout the summer months, my youngest trainee Ben, has been crowned South West Chef of the Year, and I’ve begun writing a weekly recipe column for our local paper the Western Gazette in addition to my column in the Sherborne Community Times, both of which give me a great opportunity to talk about my favourite subject ­ brilliant local food producers!

As we move towards the final days of summer things don’t show too much sign of slowing down either. In the kitchen we are busy working on new menus for autumn and we are looking forward to our Autumn Supper Club on 3rd September.  Our seasonal Supper Clubs have been a great success, and they provide a real showcase for some of the fantastic flavours and produce we have locally.

The seven course Autumn Supper Club menu includes warm Poyntington, portabello custard with late summer truffle, Vulscombe goats’ cheese with marinated vegetables and for dessert, set tonka bean cream with foraged rosehips. I will also be serving something that most people will not have tried.   Think wild, foraged, plentiful and meaty.  I am prepared for controversy and plenty of comments, but I am convinced people will be very surprised.  Come along and find out for yourself and tell me what you think!

To find out more about the Supper Clubs or to book a table simply call 01935 813131.








Ben is crowned

South West Chef of the Year


Our 18 year old, trainee Chef, Ben Champkin has been crowned overall South West Chef of the Year!  Ben won his category, Young Professional on Thursday 5th August, at Ashburton Cookery School, Exeter and then went on to be awarded the coveted title of South West Chef of the Year, chosen by Michael Caines MBE.

 Ben prepared a starter of seared line-caught bass, crab fritter, gooseberries, rainbow baby chard and red sorrel and a main of, roasted Duroc pork loin, slow-cooked belly, crisp crackling, Burrow Hill cider syrup and summer vegetables. Ben not only pipped chefs of his own age to the post, but also those in the Professional Class, all of which were aged 23 and above.

Ben has only been training with our Head Chef, Brett for a short time but he has already learnt so much, not just about preparation but about the importance of sourcing the very best local ingredients to create menus.

Ben used Burrow Hill Cider from Martock, Somerset, Longman’s butter from North Cadbury, Somerset, carrots and chard from our veg growers Ted and Jane Harris from Longburton just outside Sherborne and purple sage and broad beans grown in our own walled garden at The Eastbury.

At The Eastbury Brett and the team combine traditional British cooking with innovative twists, and Brett has taught the team that the recipes are brought to life by using the very best local ingredients, whether they are sourced from local farmers, grown in The Eastbury’s walled garden, or foraged from the nearest country hedgerow!






The next generation of little chefs


Over the past few weeks I have been working on a very special project with Sherborne Primary’s Class 11. They visited The Eastbury Hotel to learn how to prepare, cook and serve a menu of locally sourced produce to their parents, school governors and class mates and before all that I actually taught a lesson on local food at the School!

This is the second year running that we have worked with Mr Barge’s Class 11’s. Last year my daughter Francesca was in the class and the children enjoyed the project so much that we thought we would do it again this year. The children always have great fun at the Hotel learning about food preparation and serving guests. During the lesson at the school I get them to try different sorts of food from all over the world and then the local equivalent. I did try to get them to appreciate the merits of Dorset Blue Vinny which I love, but I think they need a little more time for their taste buds to mature to appreciate that one!

At The Eastbury, Brett, our Head Chef always tries to source as much as he can from the local area, and the fact that we have so many fabulous food producers in Dorset makes it easier. As well as sourcing produce from great local suppliers Brett and his team of chefs also grow their own veg in The Eastbury’s Walled Garden and go foraging in local hedgerows for all manner of wild fruit, berries and herbs.  In the photo above the boys can be seen picking wild cherries and elderflower from hedges only meters form the Hotel ­ now that’s cutting down on food miles!







Great taste


Over the past few weeks I have been judging for the Great Taste Awards with some of the Country’s finest food producers, experts, journalists and chefs.

At The Eastbury I go out of my way to find the finest ingredients to create menus full of intricate flavours and the Great Taste Awards are all about that ­ unique products full of flavour. The products aren’t presented in packaging and there’s no marketing or promotion taken into account, it’s all about the flavours that jump out at you.

Each year judges blind taste almost 5000 speciality food and drink products from over 1100 producers. Judging takes place in London, Hampshire, Dublin and the Guild of Fine Food HQ in Wincanton, Somerset, where I judged. The results will be announced in mid July 2010.

Whether it’s a perfect piece of smoked salmon, or hand-made black pudding, all that matters is the taste. Not only do I get to try some of the finest food our artisan producers have to offer, the judging process can be a real education. From judging alongside a W.I member that has been tasting the best home baked cakes for over 50 years, to an organic soup producer that appreciates the care and attention required to grow perfect veg, I always learn something that helps me develop my own menus at The Eastbury, and obviously I get to try some fantastic food in the process!




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