Award winning* visitor attraction and charity The Alnwick Garden today opened the first of their new catering facilities with the Duchess of Northumberland, The Alnwick Garden Director Mark Brassell, and Searcys Managing Director Matt Thomas.
Searcys the renowned British caterer, founded in 1847 by John Searcy, the pastry chef to the then Duke of Northumberland were appointed as The Alnwick Garden’s official caterer in 2018. Today the Duchess of Northumberland officially opened the new The Pavilion Kitchen and launched the locally-sourced and inspired new seasonal menu at The Treehouse. The John Searcy Bakery will open to the public in April.
A range of new menus have been introduced at The Pavilion Kitchen using seasonal and high-quality local produce, with Searcys chefs reimagining classic British fare. Recently awarded the Two Star Food Made Good rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), the accreditation is a testament to how provenance and sustainability are at the heart of The Alnwick Garden’s food and beverage offer.
A true homecoming for Searcys, 1837 was the year the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland employed their new confectioner, John Searcy and after funding from the Duke he went on to set up his own catering company in 1847, John Searcy and Sons.
Catering for the Duke and Duchess required skill and artistry few people possessed in 1837 and the high society and royal guests expected the best from pastry chef and confectioner John Searcy. After realising how sought after he was, he spoke with the Duke and Duchess about starting up his own catering company. After 10 years of devoted service The Duke and Duchess both agreed and even loaned him money to help start him off. John Searcy & Sons, the company, was founded in 1847.
The Duchess of Northumberland said “The introduction of new caterers, British firm Searcys, will oversee and push the culinary offering at The Garden to a new level. Their renowned reputation for quality, sustainability and innovation is a wonderful welcome to our on-going vision and we hope our existing and new visitors will see the subtle, yet delicious changes at every level.”
The Pavilion Kitchen will focus on seasonal hot dishes and small bites from breakfast to lunch and afternoon snacks. Artisan, hand-stretched dough pizzas are baked to order in front of the customers along with local hot dishes, seasonal salads, cakes and bakes. As one of the most popular family visitor attractions in the UK, family dishes take high priority with fun family sharing plates and kid’s dishes to enjoy in or to take away including Mrs Giant’s homemade cookies.
The revamped Treehouse menu by Searcys will celebrate the best of British seasonal fare with indulgent dishes served with English sparkling wines and a carefully curated cocktail menu.
Searcys brand-new series of hospitality packages for The Alnwick Garden with venues as diverse as The Treehouse and The Pavilion, will draw inspiration from the seasons and focus on the home-grown products.
The coffee shop and Bakery by John Searcy will be launched in time for Easter bringing another exciting new food destination to The Alnwick Garden. The coffee shop and bakery is named after the company’s founder and one-time patisserie chef to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. The carefully crafted menu will include award-winning coffees supplied by Extract Coffee roasters from Bristol and a range of freshly baked bread from the oven, homemade sandwiches and wholesome cakes.
Throughout the day, visitors will be able to enjoy savoury and sweet tarts, pastries and yoghurt pots, cakes, brioches and afternoon tea bakes. Signature bakes include the Scorched Pineapple Cake and Bakewell Tart, one of the oldest puddings in England. All of The Alnwick Garden and Searcys’ tea and coffee are Fairtrade or Direct Impact-sourced, with bespoke coffee beans coming from hand selected family-run farms in Peru and Columbia.
Searcys and The Alnwick Garden have a commitment to sustainability that will be echoed across all the food and drinks menus, with a company pledge to buy the best ingredients available, including English sparkling wines and sustainable Freedom Beer (the only one recommended by the Sustainable Restaurant Association).
Mark Brassell, Director of The Alnwick Garden said “Seeing this come to fruition with British caterers Searcys and of course the incredible history behind it has been an exciting and exacting
journey. As one of the busiest visitor attractions in the UK it has been paramount to take the hospitality to the next level. Searcys has an impeccable reputation, catering for The Orangery at Blenheim Palace, the Design Museum in Kensington, the Iris at The Gherkin and St Pancras International.”
Matt Thomas, MD of Searcys said: “This has been a very close partnership and it is very special to have this most renowned North connection. We have worked for months to bring all this together, with our talented chefs and catering teams, working closely with the culinary and management teams at The Alnwick Garden. This continues to be a unique opportunity to make a positive contribution to the local community whilst sharing our commitment to provenance and sustainability.”
*In 2018 The Alnwick Garden won Gold in the North East Large Visitor Attraction category, and the highly coveted Visit England 2018 Welcome Award, scoring 98% for their exemplary customer service.
The Alnwick gardeners were one of the first to successfully grow pineapples in the conservatories in the 18th century. Pineapple went to become a symbol of wealth and hospitality. With this in mind, Searcys bakers have created a signature scorched pineapple cake.