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Park Farm welcomes Fifteen London apprentices

It was our pleasure to welcome back Fifteen London students to Park Farm last week for a jam-packed adventure filled day of practical cookery, farm tour to see the animals and of course it wouldn't be River Cottage without plenty of tasting along the way.

After a bumpy tractor and trailer down to the farmhouse, they got stuck into a snack of drop scones, honey and our home-cured bacon.

The day then kicked off in our Chefs’ School with meat and curing expert Steve Lamb showing the apprentices the art of preserving meat. Steve discussed the science of sugar and salt and how it can transform the molecular structure of the meat to create a completely new texture. Having only used sugar and salt as flavouring, the apprentices were amazed to find out other uses for these ingredients. Using the best free-range organic pork, Steve then butchered and prepared the carcass to create the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth bacon.

It was then time for the apprentices to roll up their sleeves, don aprons, and get stuck in. Head Chef Tutor Gary introduced himself and got the team cooking plaice, which was landed the same morning just up the coast. After teaching them to fillet, the fish was simply shallow-fried. Not wanting to waste a scrap, Gary then demonstrated how to make salt and vinegar crispy fish frame that crackles and pops in your mouth like pork crackling. This converted many apprentices to fish bones - a new taste and texture for most of them. To accompany their fish, they filled their handmade tortilla with poly-tunnel leaves and a yoghurt dressing, which they ate outside among the herb beds outside the Farmhouse. This was followed by a rhubarb and gorse flower pearl barley risotto.

To wake up the inevitable post-lunch lull, gardener Jim took the whole team out for a tour of the farm and kitchen garden, introducing them to the new-born lambs, piglets and calves along the way.

It wasn’t long before the tractor and trailer had arrived at the farm to take all the guests back up to their coach at the top. A long but hopefully inspirational day, and we can’t wait to have them back again.

If you’d like to reward your hospitality team with a trip to River Cottage, we’d love to create a bespoke day just for you. It could be for a corporate meeting, practical cookery, team building, or even to host a culinary competition – we’ve got the perfect backdrop here at Park Farm. Call Harry on 01297 320325 for more details.