Locally Sourced Gourmet Dishes Feature in New Spring Food Menu
18-04-2016 Home comfort, gourmet dishes cooked up by Island-based ‘Wight Kitchen’are the flagship meals in Red Funnel’s brand new spring menu which is available now on the company’s Southampton-East Cowes route.
With a real focus on health and wellbeing, Red Funnel is now catering to those with food intolerances and offering tasty options for adults and children alike.
Chicken Pot Pie with seasonal vegetables, Meatball and Pasta Bake, Five Vegetable Vegetarian (and gluten free) Lasagne and Chicken Curry (also gluten free) give an option for everyone, plus Fish and Chips, a Red Funnel favourite will stay on the menu.
Wight Kitchen is run by Lauren Morton (32), who moved to the Island just three years ago from Southport, and she is ably abetted by her very experienced “Island-born and bred” Executive Chef Lee Jeffrey.
Brought up in the catering trade as her parents own several hotels and restaurants in the Southport area, Lauren successfully co-ran one of those restaurants before moving to the Island in 2012. She then started Wight Kitchen and began looking for customers.
“I jumped on a Red Jet and asked to have a meeting with someone in charge of food at Red Funnel and was lucky to meet Erin Parnell,” explained the enterprising Lauren who later built on the relationship with Kay Andrews when she joined the Red Funnel team.
“We’ve met all of the directors of Red Funnel and they are pushing as much as they can for local produce and local producers and we’re based on the Island and probably use between 70 and 80 per cent local ingredients,” she added.
Lee has catered to the rich and famous, including Prince Andrew and Sarah Fergusson, in his 23 year career.
“When I was training at the Isle of Wight College I did VIP events at Buckingham Palace, The Albert Hall, The Guildhall, Earls Court, Wentworth and Twickenham and was then personally selected to work inAzerbaijan, looking after VIP delegates,” said Lee.
After such a stellar introduction to his career, Lee worked at a number ofwell-established Island hotels and was often picked to help out at the late film director Robert Stigwood’s weekend parties at Barton Manor on the Osborne Estate.
Lee designs all of the menus, with help from Lauren. “For Red Funnel we developed a large choice and narrowed it down through board tastings and customer tastings,” said Lauren.
“We’ve grown immensely since working with Red Funnel. It’s a big chunk of our work. We had to take on two more people and others part time.”
The duo came on board Red Funnel sailings during April 5th and 6thso that Lee could help the kitchen staff with the preparation of the new dishes. Little secrets like turning the oven up a few degrees to get the right puffiness of the puff pastry tops to the Chicken Pot Pie were explained so that everything would be just perfect.
Lucky passengers on the sailings got to try tasters of the new menu and the feedback was very positive. “I like this herby sauce,” said Mrs Sharples from Leicester of the Five Vegetable Vegetarian Lasagne, which features pesto sauce. “This is so light and so tasty,” said Don Warner from Sandown on the Isle of Wight of the Cheese and Ham Quiche topping that melted in the mouth.
“We’ve had two full days so that we see all of the staff and make sure that all of them have tried all of the dishes,” explained Lauren. “Our feeling is that they can’t answer customers’ questions of how something tastes if they haven’t tasted it themselves!
“We were worried about how the staff on board would present the food, but they’re willing to make it work and have been very accommodating. They’re a great team and Peter Bessant (Assistant Onboard Catering and Retail Manager) has been brilliant,” said Lauren.
Soup flavours of Carrot and Coriander, Spicy Sweet Potato, Spring Vegetable and Pesto and Tomato, Lentil and Chorizo also feature on the new menu and amazingly all are gluten free.
Children’s menu options will include a crust-less quiche in either Ham and Cheese flavour or ‘Hidden Vegetable’ flavour – a fab way to get those five a day into your picky kids.Lauren must be well experienced in this particular field, as she has four small boys between the ages of three and seven.
Supplyingthe Island’s Co Ops with their soups, pates and cakes, Wight Kitchen now supply Robin Hill and the new Tapnell Farm with their yummy food as well. Make sure you don’t miss out on tasting their delicious dishes on your Red Funnel crossing.