Talking Heads – Let’s Get Festive
In each edition of Take Stock we find out from an industry expert how they are planning for a forthcoming event. This issue, we are discussing Christmas…
The festive period is the busiest time of the year for the industry. Take Stock spoke to Gareth Wharton, head chef at Christopher’s at The Peel Hotel in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
How have you advertised your Christmas Day and festive menus?
Via our social media pages. We find this is the best way to interact with our customers as we have a good, local following.
Are you booked up for Christmas Day?
Yes – we have been since January, and we have a waiting list! We cater for 45 guests with just the one sitting, beginning at 12.30pm, as we want our guests to have a relaxed and enjoyable occasion.
What is your Christmas Day menu?
Traditional roast turkey and roast striploin of beef with all the trimmings alongside salmon en croute and a stuffed butternut squash filled with wild mushrooms and spinach. We serve side bowls of roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and, of course, brussel sprouts.
What drinks will you serve?
Bubbles are always a big hit on Christmas Day so we always make sure we are well stocked. We offer a complimentary glass of Champagne and we feel this is the perfect way to toast the day. After all, it wouldn’t be Christmas Day without fizz, would it? For our non drinking customers we have a selection of non alcoholic beers, soft drinks and some great mocktails! Obviously, tea and coffee post meal are included in the price too.
What about your festive menu?
Our festive/party menu is available from the last weekend of November until 23 December. It includes roast turkey with all the trimmings, draft of pork with a cranberry and walnut stuffing alongside more fun options such as ox tongue, monkfish cheek and veal T-bone and is served alongside bowls of family vegetables, roast potatoes and homemade chips. We make sure it appeals to all diners and all dietary requirements are met, and children will be served a smaller portion.
How and when do you decorate your outlet?
We decorate at the end of November with discrete and stylish decorations. We have a beautiful tree on display and decorations that bring festive cheer without imposing on the dining experience.
What are your popular festive drinks?
There is no getting away from everyone’s drink of choice at the moment, gin! We have over 40 to choose from – who can resist a Gin Fizz to celebrate the festive period? We also have a fabulous range of wines, lagers and ales; with Hackney Hopster being very popular.
What are your New Year’s Eve plans?
After service on Boxing Day, we will deep clean the whole business and close until New Year’s Eve at 8am for brunch. Our brunch menu is very popular, so we will stick to our regular one which offers a full English, continental breakfast, eggs royale with fresh avocado, and poached eggs with smoked kippers. We will close at midday until 2 January.
Why don’t you open for New Year’s Eve?
Christmas Day – and the lead up – is a culmination of five weeks of very hard work and six months of planning. The whole team makes huge sacrifices with friends and family during the festive period, so we feel that by giving them New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day off it’s just a small thanks for everything they have done.
Do you hire temporary staff for the season?
We make a real effort to employ and train young people from our local area and with a friendly and fair work environment fortunately our staff turnaround is very low. Therefore, we are lucky that when it comes to the festive period trained temporary staff – who are in full time education – are happy to come and work for us, rather than us sourcing in new staff for the period. We have created a family atmosphere which helps at such a busy time!