Fresh food from farm to fork - that’s the promise of Casa Hotel’s award-winning restaurant.
To really see – and taste – the Chesterfield business’s green credentials the Derbyshire Times took a trip to the farm and then to the hotel to see the food chain in operation...
With consumers increasingly interested in the source of their food and the sustainability practices of dining establishments, the hotel’s Cocina restaurant is taking a rigorous approach to the term “farm-to-table.”
Farm manager John Brailsford, 62, said: “I’m old-school and take the back-to-nature approach.
“I like to see animals outside rooting about.
“The main advantages are the welfare of the animals and it’s more natural. We’re also not ripping the countryside up, so it’s more environmentally friendly.”
The farm was established five years ago by John and entrepreneur Steve Perez, who owns Casa and lives at Walton Lodge.
Being able to graze and wander around the grass and woodlands on the 250-acre estate gives the livestock a natural lifestyle.
The breeds are mainly old-fashioned and rare including Belted Galloway and Highland Cattle, the British Saddleback pig and Grey Faced Dartmoor sheep.
The farm has been fully organic for three years and all the meat is butchered locally.
John said owner Steve wanted the guaranteed quality that his own sustainable, home-grown farm provided. He added: “You get the reassurance that you have the quality produce you want. You know where it’s come from.”
The growing trend toward locally-sourced meals is a win-win-win for both the environment and eco-conscious diners.
The restaurant has pulled out the stops for its new Spring menu incorporating the farm’s latest seasonal produce. Dishes include ‘A taste of Walton Lodge pork’, with pig cheek, fillet, crispy ear and belly, served with creamed potato and braised red cabbage.
Casa uses up to 1,000 free-range eggs a week and the bacon and sausage served in the hotel are made to their own special recipe using the produce from Walton.
Cocina makes use of a Josper charcoal oven – one of few places to do so – to ensure the most flavoursome, succulent meat possible.
Head chef Andy Wilson, 36, said: “We are so lucky to have the farm and as a chef it is nice to have the opportunity to work with quality ingredients and use as much as we possibly can. I’ve worked all over London but have never dealt with organic products as much as I have here.”
The farm-restaurant union brings diners closer to their food by showing the process of creating a meal in its entirety — from cultivating, planting, harvesting, cooking and ultimately serving it.