The highest quality local produce in the spotlight at The Feathers, Hedley-on-the-Hill
PUBLISHED: 11:13 13 December 2012 | UPDATED: 22:29 20 February 2013
Rhian Cradock is putting the highest quality local produce in the spotlight at Hedley-on-the-Hill
There wont be turkey on the menu at The Feathers this Christmas. Richard Saill has decided not to farm them so Rhian Cradock, the multi-award winning chef-patron has re-drawn his plans. Rather than finding some from further afield, he will use local pheasant. Its a perfect example of what makes Rhian stand out from the crowd if the meat isnt local and he doesnt know its background, he wont use it. .
Rhian, who is originally from Shotley Bridge, moved back to the North East after spells in kitchens in Liverpool and London and he said: Pheasants are really tasty at the end of December, and they have much more flavour and are easier to cook, too.
Its what were about as well local, seasonal produce. Everyone says that these days but we actually practice what we preach. I can tell you the name of the person who shot the woodcock and which boat caught the fish and who the farmer is that reared the meat.
When we moved back I was amazed at the quality available up here, and even more amazed that people dont use it. I think thats partly down to the fact that people are scared of it. Theyre afraid of doing something out of their comfort zone. They watch cookery programmes on tv, then microwave a chicken dinner.
But we are doing our best to help change that. People are becoming more adventurous. We do a lot of game. Its very healthy, very lean and more people are choosing that now. There are a lot of shoots near here and it makes sense to use the meat if its available and people are really enjoying the different flavour.
Although he studied archaeology at university, Rhian has always been destined for a career in the kitchen. He had part time jobs throughout his studies his first work experience placement was as a 15-year-old in Terry Leybournes Michelin-starred 21 Queens Street and he became a head chef aged just 21.
In London he worked alongside some of the best in the business but returned to his roots five years ago. He almost settled on a venue in Newcastle city centre but said:Im so glad we didnt. Being out in the countryside suits us so much better.
The Feathers is a really good looking pub and it was very popular when we took it on. It had a good reputation for its food too, although it was very different then to what we do now.
The lessons he learned from the likes of Richard Corrigan and Bruce Poole, combined with top quality North East produce, are reaping rewards. Rhian and his partner Helen have collected almost as many awards as there are cookery books on the shelves in The Feathers, which sits high up at Hedley-on-the-Hill.
We are doing well because we have wonderful local produce cooked the way it should be cooked, he added. Our menu is always quite varied, it depends on what is available. We use very small suppliers and we do our own butchery.