Quay time!


Chef John Calton shares his ultimate Christmas menu and party tricks

Every chef has his or her take on a Christmas feast, from the traditional roast turkey to, well…everything but turkey.

For John Calton of The Staith House on North Shields Fish Quay, Christmas starts with great produce; whether it’s shellfish landed yards from the kitchen door or prime turkeys reared in Northumberland.

“We’re kicking off with a lobster and scallop dish,” says John, heading into the kitchen of the gastro pub he and his business partner Jimmy Laffan took on last year.

“It’s going to be the starter on New Year’s Eve. We get excellent shellfish here fresh from the Quay; it was one of the real attractions to setting up the pub here.”

He’s also doing turkey pie, which he recommends instead of doing a roast bird on Christmas Day – “it’s so difficult to get right in the home oven; turkey tends to end up dry”.

John’s turkey is from Brian Corbett in Northumberland. “He feeds them things like cider and cranberries and they’re certainly some of the best birds I’ve found,” he says.

Away from the kitchen, John is looking forward to Christmas with his family – wife Kimberley and daughter Polly Mae, who was born three days after the pub opened last November.

“We’ve decided not to open on Christmas Day so we can have a big family feast instead. We’re going to have a rib of beef, some duck and a few turkey pies; it’ll be nice to enjoy Christmas with the family for once.”

In the last year, The Staith House has been listed in the Michelin and Harden’s guides and been awarded Best Turnaround Venture at the Great British Pub Awards, Best Use of Social Media at the Heineken Awards, and been awarded a Cask Mark for its real ales.

“We always wanted a pub rather than a restaurant,” says John. “We wanted to create a warm atmosphere; a pub where you can get a good pint and a great plate of food and relax. Places like us, the Broad Chare, the Town Wall and Bridge Tavern, all in Newcastle, are all proving that you can be a good pub and serve top food. We’re always looking for ideas and inspiration; we’ll see where that leads.”

Recipe: Lobster and seared scallops

Recipe: Turkey pie

Recipe: Dark chocolate fondant

The Staith House, Low Lights, North Shields, NE30 1HF, tel 0191 270 8441, www.thestaithhouse.co.uk

Sloppy Joe
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