Chef launches range of products and six-course delivery Christmas menus

A Christmas dinner spread laid out on a table, including meat, vegetables and gravy.

One of the Christmas dinners being delivered by Richard and Katja Bainbridge, from Benedicts. Photo: Katja Bainbridge - Credit: Katja Bainbridge

Richard Bainbridge is feeling positive.

The Benedicts restaurant owner has, alongside his colleagues in kitchens and pubs across the country, weathered a challenging year, which has seen two lockdowns, a 10pm curfew and significant hurdles to overcome.

But it has been a time of creativity, a chance to step back and pause in what can be a relentless industry. 

Food produce laid in a hamper, including coffee barbecue sauce.

Richard and Katja Bainbridge have launched a new range of products. - Credit: Katja Bainbridge

He has seen success with a series of R Bainbridge Dine at Home meals, including barbecue options, and on Tuesday launched his Provisions range, a collection of pantry staples and treats.

It started in spring, he said, when the country was plunged into lockdown.

“We had two weeks where we, with the rest of the hospitality industry, went into panic,” he said. “What are we going to do? Can we survive?”

As demand steadily grew for takeaways, they launched the Dine at Home oven-ready meals, where diners put together or heat up some of the Norwich restaurant’s dishes to recreate the fine dining experience at home.

“We started doing restaurant dishes which we could package up and it was brilliant - the response was phenomenal,” he said. “Even when the restaurant reopened orders were coming in, 40, 60 a week.

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“People are more comfortable and adventurous in their own kitchens now.” 

Richard Bainbridge, owner at Benedicts restaurant. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Bainbridge. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Next was the beginning of Provisions, the new range.

“When we stopped doing the restaurant it gave me a chance to think about what else I am interested in,” he said. “Barbecue is a big love of mine. I love to barbecue and use local wood.”

Inspired by Texan barbecue in particular, he and wife Katja have now created three barbecue sauces - the first using elderflower, which was inspired by walks around the countryside in lockdown.

He describes it as sweet, not too spicy and a real crowd pleaser - “phenomenal with pork”.

A coffee barbecue sauce, slightly bitter and sweet, would pair perfectly with beef brisket, he said, while the third, a spicy variety, was designed with chicken, halloumi and falafel in mind.

Since then, it has grown - the range now includes strawberry and rose jam, raspberry and bergamot jam, spiced fig chutney, granola, stocks and sauces, a session IPA beer, a gin and even a coffee blend.

“All of the range is my knowledge and the team’s experience with food, and we are trying to bring that to a product line,” he said, adding that it had been led by what the pair would want to eat and drink themselves.

A hamper containing food including a coffee barbecue sauce, spicy barbecue sauce and session IPA beer.

Richard and Katja Bainbridge have launched a range of products. - Credit: Katja Bainbridge

“We started Benedicts five years ago and it was really a selfish process,” he said. “We created a restaurant that we wished existed in the city, and we took exactly the same idea with these products.

“Five years of running Benedicts and fighting to get the reputation we have has taken a toll - it’s been hard and it is hard. The lockdown was a great opportunity to pause... To be able to stop and reassess was really refreshing.

“There’s a new lease of life back in us and the restaurant. To actually think about what I can create that people can have in their own homes, it’s a completely different way of thinking, but the restaurant has now got better because of it.

“The idea that our name will be in someone’s fridge, or there when they are having breakfast - I love that idea.”

Their next focus will be Christmas - with the Dine at Home meals stopping on December 12, they will instead be gearing up to deliver Christmas Day dinners.

Newly-launched menus for two, four or six people will include a soup appetiser, smoked salmon terrine starter, all the trimmings for the main, Norfolk trifle for dessert and Christmas biscuits.

Mr Bainbridge said: “We will look after Christmas for you.”

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