The Staff Canteen Live 2021: Networking Lunch at The Forest Side in Grasmere

The Staff Canteen

On Monday 16th August, we were delighted to welcome chefs and suppliers to our TSC Live Networking lunch at The Forest Side in Grasmere.

Head chef Paul Leonard and his team created a fantastic tasting menu using the best produce Cumbria has to offer, while our guests kicked back and had a much-anticipated catch up.


Gusbourne Natural Brut 2014

Amuse bouche

 Cumbrian saddle back neck ham 

Cured trout roe tart

Hafod Cheddar Gougère

Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2018



Line-caught mackerel, green strawberries, Cherry Belle radish

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2016


Salad of grilled Garden leaves

Gusbourne Chardonnay Guinevere 2019



Native lobster barbecued over forest pine, lobster-head sauce

Gusbourne Rose 2016


Udale salt-aged Cumbrian beef, beans, summer peas, sweetbread

Gusbourne Pinot Noir 2019


Goat's milk, elderflower, gooseberry


'Forest Side' Gateau


Petits fours


A British sparkling wine reception was followed by a six-course lunch, with guests invited behind the scenes to visit the hotel gardens and kitchen.


Attending were James Nicklin, sous-chef at Winteringham Fields; private chef and founder of Sweet Treats, Martin Frickel; Chef owner of Dodd's in Ambleside, Laszlo Papp; chef consultant for the Daffodil Hotel and Spa in Grasmere, Nicholas Martin; chef owner of Lounge on the Green in Carlisle, James Hill; private chef Alex Beard; Carl Semple, head chef at Merewood Hotel in Windermere; Bradley Jasper, head chef at the Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa in Keswick; James Allcock, chef owner of The Pig and Whistle in Beverley; head chef of Adam Reid at The French, Jordan Hemsil, as well as chef Freddie Minns; Bobby Fillingham, head chef at the Lake District Hotel Group and Callum Williams, joint head chef at Tickton Grange Hotel in Beverley.



Our headline sponsor for this event was Diversey (Zenith Hygiene), joined by ChefWorks Gusbourne and Udale Speciality Foods.

What the guests said

Private chef and owner of Sweet Treats by Martin Frickel said "the lunch was lovely, it was really nice to network with lots of different people." 

"The food was amazing. I've tried Paul's food before and it was delicious." 

"It's a great way for chefs to get out there and meet other chefs and meet suppliers instead of them just turning up in your kitchen."

"In a more relaxed environment like this, it's great to meet them and put some faces to the names I normally speak to by email or on the phone." 

Recommending that other chefs attend the lunches given the chance, he said: "it's great to network with other chefs, eat some amazing food, drink some nice wine and get to know more of a person instead of just following them on social media. To eat in their restaurant and meet them face-to-face is great."

Sophie Edwards, Diversey/Zenith's national business development manager, said the lunch was "amazing, as always." 

"This is my fifth event and they're always fantastic. The food was amazing."

"It's really nice to speak to chefs and people from the industry in a really relaxed atmosphere, enjoying some great food and some great wine in really good company." 

As everyone adjusts to the "new normal," she said, "lockdown has been a long time," and "it's just nice to be out and have a social conversation without fear or restrictions." 

"I really enjoyed it. It's always really relaxed and quite an intimate way to be able to network with people, which from most suppliers' point of view is really nice, because as suppliers you don't often get to have that."

"Often at these types of events you don't need to talk about business because you get asked a question," she said. 

"It's a better way of networking."

Sous-chef at Winteringham Fields James Nicklin said the day was "spectacular." 

"I really enjoyed it. It felt good to have Paul's food on the table, it was delicious, but I expected nothing less to be honest."

The chef enjoyed working for Paul at a previous TSC networking lunch at The Devonshire Arms so, he said, "it was nice to be tableside."

"I've had both experiences," he said, and both were "really good."

"Being in the industry, you sometimes don't have that time to listen. You get so much information, but when you can have a full-on conversation about their product or what they do, it gives you a bit more insight as a chef."

Chefs should certainly host and attend networking lunches, he said, "I think it's a great idea - I couldn't think of a better way to have a lunch unless you're with your friends and family, but coming from work and having it with people who do the same thing that you love, it's great."

"Everyone has the same thought process, we're here for the food." 

Host chef Paul Leonard said the day was "a really nice encounter."

"We took it back to showcasing what it is that we're cooking, we tried not to overcomplicate it and we really enjoyed it."

"It was really nice to see some old faces and some people we haven't met before.

"When you've got a room full of chefs, it puts the pressure on a little bit, but it's fantastic to have a full restaurant again and to be cooking."


Asked why he chose to host a networking lunch for the second time, he said: "I like working with The Staff Canteen, I think they support the industry and we can help build that personally."

What's more, he added, "it showcases what we do to a group of people who hopefully will want to come back and eat."

As for integrating suppliers' product into the menu, he said: "generally, we're quite reactive to what comes in through the seasons anyway, so for us to take the products and add our stamp is easy." 

"If we've got a great product, we just cook it and serve it. We don't try to reinvent the wheel - we just cook some beautiful nice products with something it is nice with and make a banging sauce."

With reps and chefs eating the food, he said, "we wanted to do it justice."

Like James, Paul would recommend that chefs attend and host networking lunches given the opportunity.

"It's great. I think you can see how it took five minutes for the volume to start going up and everyone started to be more relaxed and speaking to each other. That was our impression from the kitchen."

Having met some local chefs for the first time, he said, "it creates networks in the area, especially with the addition of social media. We're in an era where hopefully chefs are helping each other, rather than ten-twenty years ago when everyone was guarded and it was a battle. And hosting it is great." 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall  – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 16 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 560,000 followers across Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th August 2021

The Staff Canteen Live 2021: Networking Lunch at The Forest Side in Grasmere