Castle Dairy raises £600 for Cumbria Flood Appeal

Despite personally suffering the effects of Storm Desmond in December, chefs from Kendal’s Castle Dairy restaurant have helped to raise £600 toward the Cumbria Flood Appeal.

The five strong team, led by Head Chef, Robert Stacey, took over the Restaurant at Kendal College on Wednesday (13th January) to offer an evening of exclusive fine dining for 36 pre-booked guests.

Diners were treated to a special eight-course tasting menu, which included; dressed Cornish crab, radish and sea herbs; slow cooked rump of lamb, celeriac, cavalo nero and lamb jus; and new season candle-light rhubarb and green tea sorbet.

Guests travelled from far and wide including four diners who made the 400-mile round trip from Northampton to Kendal after the floods meant they missed out on the Castle Dairy’s tasting menu on Christmas Eve. 

Robert Stacey, Head Chef at the Castle Dairy, said: “The team at the Castle Dairy were all so moved by the way everyone came together to help and support one another in the wake of the floods that we wanted to give something back through the floods appeal. It was heart-breaking to see the damage caused to our business but we will come back even stronger whereas some people have lost their homes and personal belongings, which can never be replaced.

“After a prolonged period out of the kitchen, it was great to get back to doing what we do best – creating exciting dishes using high quality seasonal ingredients – and giving our talented apprentice chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills.

“Everybody involved had a fantastic night and we hope to be able to run more of these charity dining events in conjunction with Kendal College over the coming months whilst repair work is ongoing at the Castle Dairy.”

The evening was sponsored by Lancashire food specialists, Wellocks who kindly donated many of the ingredients. James Wellock, MD at Wellocks said: “We were proud to sponsor the event in the wake of the awful floods in Kendal and the surrounding areas, which saw our own customers’ businesses suffer. Supplying the perfect ingredients for a superb tasting menu at Kendal College was an absolute pleasure.”

The Grade I listed building, which houses the Castle Dairy Restaurant and Art Gallery, was besieged by flood water from Storm Desmond on Saturday 5th December. Both the kitchen, which was less than a year old, and the bar area have had to be ripped out and are currently in the process of being redesigned.

Flood Update 8th January 2016

By Darryn Van Der Merwe

Castle Dairy Flood

Our last evening service was on the Friday 4th December 2015. The weather was quite horrific that evening. I recall almost being defeated by the wind and rain cycling home. I did think that the weather would calm down overnight, but it didn’t. The rain continued throughout the night.

The next morning at 10am, the River Kent was extremely high. Head Chef Robert Stacey (and our friends and neighbours on Wildman Street) battled the elements to sandbag the building following local authority warnings. We did everything we could to keep the rising waters out with sand bags, but we were fighting a losing battle.

As the water levels continued to rise, myself and the team agreed that things were going to get worse before they got better and we moved what furniture we could upstairs and propped up tables and other large furniture on breeze blocks as high as possible.

By 4.30pm the water in the restaurant was knee high and started entering the restaurant through the walls and up through the floor into our Roman Road Room and kitchen. It was devastating to watch. Particularly as our recently refurbished kitchen submerge into the flood waters and every single piece of equipment became ruined. Conscious that there was little more that we could do, we evacuated the restaurant following the polices advice in the hope that the rain would stop sometime soon. Unfortunately it didn’t!

It was absolutely heartbreaking to see the amount of devastation caused by the floods and the team is still in shock. We were all stocked up and ready to serve our Christmas and New Year menus in the weeks ahead. Head Chef Robert and his team had put a lot of work and effort in to the menus and we were looking forward to welcoming our guests over the festive period.

The Castle Dairy is currently in the process of drying out, which is going to take a considerable amount of time.  Due to the nature of the building, we are restricted from using mechanical heaters to dry out the restaurant. The building was built using lime plaster to the walls and the oak beams would suffer if dried out rapidly. Furthermore, the safety of the building could be compromised if guidelines are not followed due to the age of the property.

In the meantime, the kitchen (which was flooded with contaminated water) and bar have both been ripped out and are in the process of being redesigned. We are hoping to install new lavatories too. Despite the damage, we remain optimistic and are looking forward to reopening our newly refreshed restaurant  – that will hopefully be equally, if not more, successful than ever before!

Whilst the restaurant remains closed, the Castle Dairy team is planning lots of training and development activity to further improve our skills and knowledge. We shall also be holding a calendar of charity events at Kendal College to raise money for the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund. Keep an eye on our website for details. We hope to see you there.

Thank you for your continued support. I will update you again soon.

Darryn Van Der Merwe
Restaurant Manager
Castle Dairy Restaurant & Art Gallery

Fine Dining in Kendal at the Castle Dairy