A menu dedicated to the often overlooked goose will aim to revive the Michaelmas tradition this autumn, as Victoria Leggett reports.

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It is a tradition dating back hundreds of years to acknowledge the efforts of Saint Michael the Archangel as he defeated Lucifer in the war of the heavens.

Now students at City College Norwich are hoping their efforts in the kitchen will help revive the historic Michaelmas celebration and put goose back on the menu.

A Norfolk Food and Drink Festival event will see the trainee chefs cooking up a meal dedicated to the seasonal bird to raise its profile and bring it back into favour.

Students at the college’s hotel school, in Ipswich Road, have been working closely with Norfolk goose producers to prepare for a Michaelmas feast at Debut Restaurant on October 4.

Back in June, they were introduced to the world of geese by Eddie Hegarty, chairman of British Goose Producers, at his farm at Pulham Market.

He says: “While goose is one of the most traditional British meats, it’s always good to find new ways of serving the dish.

“Just as more families are now choosing a goose for Christmas, so restaurants are seeing the potential of goose for Michaelmas and autumn menus – and if we can help provide them with some new ideas, we’ll all be gaining.”

Over the past few weeks, the trainee chefs have been working alongside Norwich chef – and EDP Food and Drink Awards finalist – Chris Busby, from Brasted’s Restaurant, to develop new recipes and recipe ideas which will show off the best of Michaelmas goose. Steve Thorpe, head of the hotel, hair and beauty school at City College, says the end of the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, in association with Norfolk County Council, was perfectly timed to raise the profile of the historic tradition.

“In this region, we produce a lot of geese,” he says. “So it seems such a good link to include that in the food festival. It’s just as goose comes into season.”

Norfolk has traditionally been a particularly good area for rearing geese, with the flat wetland of the Brecks particularly well-suited to the web-footed birds.

Steve says people often worry that they do not have the skills to cook a goose, meaning they avoid trying it, but the chef insists it is not a difficult bird to prepare.

“It’s really not,” he says. “It’s quite a nice flavoursome bird and it’s quite rich.

“To get it back on the radar for professional chefs, it’s just about raising awareness about what you can do with it. That’s part of the work the students have been doing. They’ve been looking at recipes, having trials and tests to see what we can do.”

The Goose Menu at Debut Restaurant will aim to make the most of the goose with a starter including a liver parfait and goose eggs, and a roulade for the main course.

“Nick Mills, from Brasted’s, will match some wines around those dishes,” says Steve. “And we will be talking a little about goose production, and goose as an alternative to some red meats, during the meal.”

The Goose Menu at Debut Restaurant, at City College Norwich, will take place on Thursday October 4 beginning at 6.30pm. Tickets are £35 each and the event can cater for about 60 people.

For more information or to book, call 01603 773227.

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