Despite it being 2017, many pubs and restaurants are still frustratingly not providing vegetarians and vegans with enough choice on the menu – and this is something we are determined to address in Castle Rock pubs. Many of our pubs already boast diverse and exciting offerings for vegetarians – including the Poppy & Pint and Kean’s Head – and we wanted to roll that out to as many pubs as possible to ensure veggies and vegans are getting a great choice on the menu.
Largely inspired by this, we recently ran a veggie burger cook off. Chefs from the Stratford Haven, Kean’s Head, Canalhouse, Horse & Plough, Willowbrook, Poppy & Pint, Bread and Bitter and the Embankment headed to the training kitchens at the Hospitality and Catering Academy at Ashfield School and Post 16 Centre. The school kindly let us borrow their impressive facilities, overseen by chef Craig Harrison who is Head of Hospitality and Catering at the school.
Judged by Craig Harrison and Alice Hewkin (lifelong vegetarian, local allotment owner), the criteria once again focussed on taste and nutritional value. The winning burger was the Poppy & Pint’s mushroom, halloumi and roasted pepper burger made with brown rice & oats; coming in joint second place was the Vat & Fiddle’s garden burger and the Kean’s Head’s mushroom, halloumi & grilled courgette & aubergine burger.
The cook-off was followed by a catering catch-up meeting, which Castle Rock’s Business Development Manager Sarah Halpin says have been extremely useful so far. “It’s a platform for all of our chefs to get together when otherwise they may have never met. They can chat through their menus, inspire each other and help each other out with any issues they’re having.”
Craig Harrison said: “To have Castle Rock in our Hospitality Academy, and to see the different ideas and techniques used to produce vegetarian burgers to match the culture and individuality of each Castle Rock pub, was a great experience for us. I am always happy for the Academy to support local businesses to develop, progress and meet their own business objectives, whilst using the experience to inform our students and provide them with a taster of what life is really like in the industry. “