Local charity, The Auckland Project, is championing both the produce and talent of the local area as it prepares to serve up a series of new eateries.
From flavoursome and fresh ingredients to developing the skills of up-and-coming chefs, The Auckland Project’s forthcoming cafés and restaurants in Bishop Auckland will shine a light on the best of the county.
As a regeneration charity, The Auckland Project is working to drive positive change in the town by creating a visitor destination, centred around 900-year-old Auckland Castle, once home to the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham.
Plot to plate
The visitor destination will include a new café and two restaurants, which will all offer a warm County Durham welcome to visitors. It will also be a training facility for young chefs to develop their skills with a sustainable approach to food, following the journey of ingredients from plot to plate to ensure high standards and a small environmental footprint.
The first of these new eateries is the Bishop’s Kitchen, a café located within Auckland Castle which launches following conservation work later this year. This will be followed by a Spanish-inspired restaurant which will sit alongside The Auckland Project’s forthcoming Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland Market Place, and the Walled Garden Restaurant, within the 17th century Walled Garden at Auckland Castle, which are both also in development.
Menus will alter with the seasons as crops of fruit and vegetables are grown and harvested just metres from the dining table, in the grounds of Bishop Auckland’s historic Auckland Castle.
The catering team at The Auckland Project will also work closely with local farmers and suppliers to make the most of their seasonal produce, celebrating the high standard of fresh ingredients grown in the north east.
Commitment to developing new talent
Culinary Director, Ant Brown, working alongside Chef, Katherine Hindes, is also an advocate of young talent and is determined to inspire a new wave of culinary talent, creating a centre for excellence in catering in County Durham.
The Auckland Project already employs a four-strong team of Commis Chefs, Jane Ann Taylor, Emma Rowell, Francesca Brass, Lucy Hendron and Café Supervisor Leah Pull.
All of the young chefs were unsure about their future direction when they joined as Catering Apprentices in 2017 but have since found a passion for food and are embarking on new careers in catering. After completing their apprenticeships with flying colours they are now honing their skills in the kitchen.
They will continue to progress and grow as chefs, developing new techniques and expertise as each of The Auckland Project’s eateries open.
Much of the food will be prepared in The Auckland Project’s brand new Central Kitchen, where the team of chefs will further sharpen their skills, making everything from fresh bread and pasta through to intricate patisserie and whole animal butchery.
The freshly prepared food will then be fully prepped, cooked and served up at The Project’s cafes and restaurants in Bishop Auckland.
The Auckland Project’s Culinary Director, Ant Brown, who has worked with a number of renowned names including Michelin starred chefs, Pierre Koffman and Tom Kitchin, said: “I’ve been lucky enough to find my passion in the food industry and I want to inspire that same passion in others.
“I’m confident that by training and developing staff who are passionate about, and take pride in, the food they produce we can create a centre for excellence in catering and hospitality here in County Durham.
“We believe that ingredients taste best and are of the highest quality when they are grown and harvested locally and sustainably.
“Many of the fruit and vegetables we use, for example, will have been picked just hours before they are eaten and there is no substitute for the flavour and level of freshness that will give.”
The three eateries
While each of The Auckland Project’s eateries will follow the same guiding principles of using regionally sourced ingredients and promoting the culinary talents of the local area, they will also offer a distinctive dining experience.
When the Bishop’s Kitchen opens later this year, visitors will be able to take in the history of the Castle’s refurbished medieval kitchen, or enjoy some fresh air in the historic courtyard to enjoy a selection of soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes.
The new Spanish-inspired restaurant, which will open within the Spanish Gallery, will offer modern-style tapas in an informal setting. And the Walled Garden Restaurant will deliver a premier dining experience at the top terrace of the 17th century Walled Garden in the grounds of Auckland Castle.
In the future, The Catering Team also plans to use their culinary expertise and new facilities to establish an outside catering company, providing high-quality and fresh food for events and businesses across the region.
Ant Brown said: “Looking ahead, we have big ambitions but food and great hospitality will remain a key part of what we offer here at The Auckland Project and we are committed to deliver that in line with the charity’s mission and purpose whilst offering the best possible experience for diners.”