Why I'm so passionate about Sheffield's quality food and drink

Rotherham’s hidden gem, Grade I listed country house Wentworth Woodhouse, has reopened to the public with a new head of hospitality making his mark in the tea rooms.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:00 am
Darren Procter, Head of Hospitality, Wentworth Woodhouse.

But until he applied for the job with the Preservation Trust which owns and runs the stately pile, Darren Procter didn’t know it existed.

“When I came for my interview I was completely won over and extremely eager to get the job,” said Darren, 43, who was previously executive chef and catering operations manager at Sheffield Hallam University and once ran his own restaurant in Cornwall.

“It’s stunningly beautiful and so important it’s saved from decline.

Wentworth Woodhouse.

“The things we will be doing in a few years’ time are really exciting; the tea rooms and catered events are just the start. The derelict Camellia House in the gardens will become a cafe, then a restaurant will be created in the Stables.

“Working with local communities and volunteering for charities and schools has always been important to me and that’s a big part of life there. I saw an opportunity to make a difference to a huge community.”

Passionate about supporting South Yorkshire’s quality independent food and drink producers and encouraging less waste in the food industry, Darren is bringing new dishes and a focus on locally-sourced produce to the menus at the mansion.

The Silver Hill Larder

I’ve shopped at this fabulous cheese shop on Ecclesall Road South for the last few years and have got to know the family who run it.

They support local producers and always have a good range from Derbyshire and Yorkshire. I love trying something new - especially the strong varieties.

I hope to introduce Silver Hill to our menus at Wentworth Woodhouse. This is something I’m looking to do with other quality producers and suppliers from South Yorkshire. This county has food and drink to be proud of.

Cupola Gallery

There is a definite a link between food and art and many chefs have strong artistic skills. Sadly I have none - but I do have a deep appreciation for art.

I love modern and 20th century work by David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth and Joe Scarborough as well the classics of Leonardo, Monet and Van Gogh.I live in Hillsborough and it’s a privilege to have the Cupola on my doorstep. Karen Sherwood set up the gallery almost 30 years ago and is a champion of original local art.

The gallery stages shows throughout the year, which I love going to, and I’ve started collecting pieces by some of the artists featured; Andy Cropper from Sheffield, who paints amazing Sheffield scenes, mainly at night, and Stephen Todd, who creates stunning East Yorkshire land and sea scapes.

Karen began painting again a few years ago and I’ve bought some of her work, too.

The Nag’s Head in Bradfield

I often walked the three miles to this pub before the pandemic and will be doing so again - regularly!

It’s Bradfield Brewery’s pub so the beer is great. Plus it’s £2.50 a pint ,which every man from the north loves.They do a brilliant home-made pie - a pie and a pint costs £7.95, which every man from the north loves even more.

I’m putting pies on the menu at the Wentworth Woodhouse tea room. Our versions will be lighter, with crumble crusts. Hopefully my veggie-packed Homity Pie, inspired by my time in Cornwall, will go down well.

Food Works Sheffield

I linked with this brilliant organisation, which repurposes surplus food and promotes sustainability, when I worked at Sheffield Hallam. At the time it was called the Real Junk Food Project.We supported them in many ways, including bistro nights, when we invited diners to pay what they felt their meal was worth.

I’ve volunteered for them, too.

Pina

I’m so glad this place has survived the pandemic. Off the beaten track in Neepsend, it specialises in authentic and inventive Mexican sharing plates. Every dish tastes really fresh and as if it’s been made by people who care.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​