Chef launches range of products and six-course delivery Christmas menus
- 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.
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.
- 1 McDonald's branch to close for up to three months
- 2 'I ran for my life' - Neighbour who saw fatal row tells of terror
- 3 Hospital to close with loss of 120 jobs
- 4 Injured man found on Norfolk beach could be linked to woman's death
- 5 Man dies after 'industrial incident' at farm
- 6 Mental health hospital owed £2m to staff and creditors when it shut
- 7 Tributes to 'well-known, well-liked, well-respected' King's Lynn fan
- 8 Concern over state of beach following £22m sandscaping project
- 9 12 villages set to receive some of UK's fastest ever broadband
- 10 Four fish and chip shops listed among the best in the country
“People are more comfortable and adventurous in their own kitchens now.”
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.
“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.”
To see more, visit www.rbainbridge.co.uk