Changes at Palé often have a long lead time as we seek our way of doing something. It’s that journey to find the Palé way that often leads me to spend hours on the internet looking for ideas or inspiration, more often than not returning to a more elegant age, finding something no longer fashionable and then hitting eBay in my search to be able to do it at a reasonable price.
We knew that we were going to be awarded our 5 Red Stars months before we were allowed to announce it. New menus, new menu covers, new plates and new bread were our chosen ways to mark this achievement. Most of this development lay in other hands, Chef and his team to create the bread, The Six, The Ten and The Classics menus, and GM Harry to develop the new menu covers and present us with the final simple elegant answer, and then work with chef to find some new plates. I drive my team around the bend sometimes because of some of the things I insist upon. Plates are one of them. I just don’t like eating off wooden boards or boxes or bark, hollowed out stones, unglazed pottery or lumps of brown clay that closely resemble a cowpat. All that challenging and innovative presentation is for others. I want the food to be the point of discussion, not the vessel. I like plates, I like them to be glazed, I like them to be fine and above all, white. Both Gareth and Harry know to present me with anything else is an exercise in futility, so on brief they have sourced an array of beautiful elegant china that allows the food to be the star.
You simply wouldn’t believe how long it took us to agree on a method of presenting the bread. We looked at cloches, bowls, buttoned napkins, oriental china, glazed Japanese boxes, Murano glass platters, all of them lovely, all of them in use elsewhere, but none of them right for us. It’s strange where inspiration comes from. I ended up on a page about the history of English Muffins, saw a picture of the old nursery rhyme and found the perfect solution. It’s amazing what you can find on eBay. Apparently people don’t want silver Victorian muffin dishes any more, except me that is, and they go for a song. Three weeks later we have an array of Victorian silver dishes. A muffin warmer is a rather elegant silver container with a lid and an inside compartment; the lower section is supposed to be filled with boiling water if you want to keep muffins warm. We care too much about our staff to have them carrying metal dishes filled with boiling water through a busy restaurant, but they work a treat and look the part, and are the perfect vessel for our spiced loaves. Last night Alan and I dined at Palé and Adam’s perfect lightly spiced small loaf arrived warm, crusty and flavoursome in a beautiful Victorian muffin dish.
Palé is gradually becoming part of the local community and, where we can, we like to help. During the storm of a few weeks ago our staff rushed to help when a local care home looked likely to flood. We also made a donation to the Llandderfel fireworks display; these small acts plant us in our area. We can’t say yes to every request, there are so many, but sometimes something comes across our desk that stirs us to do a little more. Ysgol y Berwyn has just had a major rebuilding project, it looks wonderful but as always funding is a little short. As a former teacher education is very dear to my heart and investing in the next generation something we are proud to do. We were delighted to make a donation to help equip the new food technology room. Chef and Ffion provided a great demonstration on how easy it is to cook stroganoff to a group of Year 10 & 11 students and hopefully inspired the next generation to consider hospitality as a profession.
The school posted this following our visit:
Cafodd disgyblion Cyfnod Allweddol 4 brofiad arbennig yr wythnos hon, wrth i brif chef Westy Palé Hall, Gareth Stevenson a’i commis chef Ffion rhoi arddangosiad ar greu bwydydd safonol. Yn ystod yr arddangosiad cyflwynwyd siec o £2000 i adran Bwyd a Maeth / Technoleg Bwyd yr ysgol gan berchnogion Pale Hall, Mr Alan Harper a Mrs Angela Harper. Bydd yr arian yn mynd tuag at archebu adnoddau newydd ar gyfer yr ystafell paratoi bwyd.
Pupils from Years 10 and 11 were provided with a special experience this week, when the Head Chef from Palé Hall Hotel, Gareth Stevenson and commis chef Ffion gave a demonstration on preparing a high quality meal. As part of the practical demonstration a cheque for £2000 was presented to the Food and Nutrition / Food Technology department from the owners of Palé Hall, Mr Alan Harper and Mrs Angela Harper. The funds will be used to purchase equipment for the food preparation room.
A couple of pieces of good news: this weekend we gained entry onto the Sunday Times top 100 hotels list, which is very pleasing indeed. We have also made a new entry into the 2019 Good Food Guide. We keep pushing.