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Chef Interview: Nicola Duncan
Greater Manchester has a number of talented chefs who see the value in sourcing quality local produce from trusted suppliers. There are many independent pubs, delis, cafes and restaurants across the region that care about the quality and provenance of the ingredients they choose for their menus. Buying local helps the economy, reduces food miles and creates regional pride within the community.
The Parlour is only two years old but has already won a clutch of awards. It was runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011 'Best Sunday Lunch' and won 'Pub of the Year' at last year's Manchester Food & Drink Awards. They have also just been accredited Gold from 'Truly Good Food' - the guide to healthy and sustainable dining in Manchester.
Where are you from Nic? Born in Bolton, work in Chorlton, live in Stockport.
Where did you work before you got this job? I have worked at Selfridges in Exchange square, but I would say my main influences came from working at Harvey Nichols, Manchester.
How would you describe the food at The Parlour? Not fine dining. Relaxed, but top quality traditional pub food with some room for creativity. We change our menu about once a month according to the seasonal produce that's available, but we try to not deviate too far from any old favourites.
What's good at the moment? At this time of year, we're able to start getting some wonderful local salad leaves again and also rhubarb from Timperley which we do all sorts with - roast for a mackerel salad, make into a vinaigrette with smoked chicken, and of course, rhubarb crumble.
What can you recommend?We make great chips. We found that Maris Piper potatoes had a high sugar content so the chips would burn and be slightly bitter, so we all got together and did a taste test using different potatoes. Now we use a variety called Sarpo Mira which we get from Cheshire.
Do you make everything here? Pretty much. We make all our own stocks from scratch and our pies and pates are home made. We have to be quite clever with the space that we have. Our kitchen is tiny and we've been known to feed up to 200 customers on a Sunday.
What dishes on your menu represent 'Greater Manchester'? Almost all our ingredients are locally sourced. We also use Burt's Blue cheese, the only cheese to be made in the region as far as we know, and Bury Black pudding. A popular dish is sustainable haddock coated with a batter made using local beer, our proper chips and 'Manchester caviar' (mushy peas).
Why should people come here to eat? As well as the food, there's a really good atmosphere. On busy weekends people know they might have to wait so they just relax with a drink until a table is ready for them. We make sure it's worth the wait.
Where do you like to eat in Greater Manchester? I love eating at Damson in Heaton Moor. I'm planning on going to the Peacock Room in Bamford next week and have heard some really good things about Andrew Nutter's place Nutters Restaurant in Rochdale. I owe him a visit as he's been here to eat.
We'll leave you with a quote from The Parlour's menu:
"We keep our trade as local as possible to reduce our carbon footprint and support local businesses. Meat supplied by WH Frost Butchers, Fish supplied by Out of the Blue, Bread supplied by JB Richardson, Vegetables supplied by R Noone & Sons and Manchester Veg People Co-operative."
The Parlour, 60 Beech Rd, Chorlton, M21 9EG
Tel - 0161 881 4871
More info @ The Parlour