On a night of high emotion at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal which played host to a vibrant black-tie celebration ofCumbria’s tourism industry last week, the George and Dragon inCliftonnear Penrith won the prestigious ‘Taste of Cumbria’ award.
The award was announced by ITV’s ‘Loose Woman’ Rachel Agnew, and was awarded in recognition of the George and Dragon’s outstanding commitment to excellence in showcasing local produce in a winning setting.
In 2008, the George and Dragon was bought by Charles Lowther and his mother Caroline Lonsdale, who extensively refurbished and re-opened it as a country inn with ten bedrooms. Their winning philosophy is to use food grown on their family estate wherever possible. The Lowther Estate has been producing meat and vegetables for over 800 years. Charles’ background is in farming and had previously run a food business supplying meats from their family farms, so they already had a good understanding of how to link up the supply chain right down to the pub table. In 2005 Charles met Paul McKinnon, the head chef at the George and Dragon, and together they started hatching a plan to make their shared passion a reality.
Since opening the George and Dragon, the team there have worked tirelessly to bring excellent produce to their many diners. They have developed a reputation for continuously changing their menu depending on what is available at the time. A wide range of vegetables and fruit from their kitchen gardens in Askham are brought in by Colin the gardener throughout the year and Gregor, the estate stalker, makes a delivery to the George and Dragon on a regular basis (whether it be roe venison, red venison, rabbits, or other game). And of course there are regular deliveries by Frank, the local butcher of Charles’ beef cattle, pigs or lambs. Wild mushrooms, fruit and salad leaves such as wild garlic are locally foraged for whenever possible.
Charles Lowther, on winning the award, said: “I’m delighted that we have received recognition for something we truly pride ourselves in and it’s thanks to the whole team and the George and Dragon and everyone who works hard to supply us with the fantastic produce.”
Paul McKinnon, head chef, received the award alongside general manager Chris Curry and restaurant manager Dorota Zebrowska. Paul said: “We’re so lucky to be able to use such good quality produce which is grown and reared specifically for us. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the trainee chefs to learn to use a huge variety of unique ingredients and it’s exciting not knowing exactly what’s coming in from week to week. It also means I can come up with some really interesting dishes and change the menu regularly.”
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