Progress being made at historic Kendal restaurant

After more than a year of enforced closure due to Storm Desmond, 2017 will bring some light at the end of the tunnel for the historic Castle Dairy restaurant in Kendal.

The age and status of the building has meant that the work to dry it out and then refurbish needs to be a much longer process, however a brand new state-of-the-art kitchen is now fully fitted. The new kitchen will include a chef’s table, giving diners a special close up experience of new Head Chef Chris O’Callaghan and his team at work.

With work on the kitchen about to be underway, the next step for Chris, who took over as Head Chef in August, is to build up his team of apprentices.

The Castle Dairy works in a unique way as it is run by catering apprentices under the eye of Head Chef, Chris and Restaurant Manager, Darryn Van der Merwe. All of the apprentices receive training and will gain valuable qualifications at Kendal College.

Chris said: “The Castle Dairy offers a really exciting opportunity for any young chef or anyone interested in developing or furthering a career in hospitality. Honestly, I wish there had been something like this on offer for me when I was first starting out. There can be no better learning experience than first hand in a busy, working restaurant where expectations and ambitions are high.

“The Castle Dairy has a strong reputation in Kendal and, because it has been closed for such a prolonged period of time, there will be a lot of pressure on us to make sure everything is running like clockwork in time for the reopening.

“We’re all looking forward to building a brand new team and ensuring that both loyal and new customers enjoy first class contemporary food and service in this historic setting.”

During the renovation process, a medieval doorway was uncovered. It is hoped this can be knocked through – subject to building control approval – to the College’s new Art Gallery in the Wildman Street Studios next door to the Castle Dairy. This will provide guests and diners with an opportunity to view original artwork as well as using the space for special receptions and launches.

The Grade I listed building, which houses the Castle Dairy Restaurant and Art Gallery, was beseiged by flood water from Storm Desmond on Saturday 5th December 2015. The kitchen and bar area have been redesigned, a new staircase is being fitted in the restaurant, the toilets are being modernised, and there will be a new open fire added to the ‘Roman Road’ room. The new-look Castle Dairy is expected to open in March 2017 with Kendal College and South Lakeland District Council doing everything possible to finish the building work as quickly as possible whilst preserving the history of the building.

For more information on the Castle Dairy, visit For more information and to apply for apprenticeships at the Castle Dairy, visit




New chef takes charge at Castle Dairy

A new Head Chef has been appointed at Kendal’s historic Castle Dairy – the innovative fine dining restaurant and art gallery run by apprentices from Kendal College.

Thirty four year-old Chris O’Callaghan from Kendal has taken over the reigns and is working with the College’s Head of School for Hospitality, Robert Marshall-Slater to oversee the redevelopment of the Grade 1 listed building after it was flooded last December.

Chris has been cooking professionally at an exceptionally high standard for over 18 years and joins the Castle Dairy after four years as Head Chef at the 4-star Linthwaite House in Windermere where he achieved 3AA rosettes.

He has also spent time at The 10 in 8 Fine Dining Group’s Michelin-starred restaurants, Paris House in Bedfordshire and L’ortolan near Reading, as well as the Michelin-starred Gravetye Manor Hotel in Sussex.

One of the new developments planned at the Castle Dairy is the introduction of a chefs table and Chris is relishing the opportunity to get stuck into creating enticing new tasting menus to cook up in front of guests.

He said: “Its an exciting position to be in and I can’t wait to get into the new kitchen and start doing what I do best – cooking excellent quality food whilst training the next generation of young chefs.

“People dining at the new-look Castle Dairy can expect to enjoy contemporary food and service in a historic setting.”

Robert Marshall-Slater, Head of School for Hospitality at Kendal College, said: “Its quite an unusual position for a new Head Chef to find himself in with the Castle Dairy still being closed after the dreadful floods last December.  However, getting Chris in place was a real coup for us and we’re delighted that he’s got this opportunity to build up his team of young chefs and front of house staff before we reopen.

“The Castle Dairy has established a strong reputation in Kendal in the last few years and we know that having Chris in place will take it to the next level, so we’re all excited to see what the future holds for this unique restaurant.”

The Grade I listed building, which houses the Castle Dairy Restaurant and Art Gallery, was beseiged by flood water from Storm Desmond on Saturday 5th December 2015. Both the kitchen, which was less than a year old, and the bar area have been ripped out and redesigned and work is expected to start on fitting in the coming weeks. It is hoped that the new-look Castle Dairy will reopen before the end of the year with Kendal College and South Lakeland District Council doing everything possible to get the building open in time for the festive season.

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.


The Team have been celebrating recently after receiving a glowing review on Jamie Oliver’s renowned website –

Our apprentice-run fine dining restaurant, housed in Kendal’s oldest building, recently enjoyed a personal visit from Jim Tanfield, Jamie’s Web Editor, after he heard about our unique eatery’s fast-growing reputation for exceptional food.

Jim indulged in a lavish eight course tasting menu of Cumbria’s finest produce and has bestowed high praise on the Castle Dairy’s building, our food, our Head Chef and his young team.

On, which receives around 26,000,000 page views internationally each month, Jim described the building as “Ancient, 600 years old and beautiful, the oldest in town, with a preserved bedroom and listed four-poster bed to boot. It’s full of nooks and crannies, priest holes and wonky walls and really feels like a trip back to Ye Olde England, absolutely gorgeous.”

The Castle Dairy recently reopened its doors following the addition of a brand new state of the art kitchen and praise on such a famous foodie website is a huge boost for our staff.

Robert Marshall-Slater, Head of Culinary Arts at for Kendal College, which runs the Castle Dairy, said:

“We are absolutely overwhelmed at this review and so, so proud of Robert Stacey and his wonderful team.  We really hope this inspires those that haven’t yet experience the Castle Dairy to come and try it for themselves.”

To read Jim Tanfield’s full review please click here.


The Castle Dairy Restaurant, an apprentice-run fine dining restaurant housed in Kendal’s oldest building, recently re-opened its doors following extensive renovations, to a hat trick of success…Hosting two great events at Kendal Festival of Food, winning Neighbourhood Restaurant of the Year at Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards and enjoying a personal visit from Jamie Oliver’s Web Editor.

Staff at the unique eatery worked round the clock to re-open in time for Kendal Festival of Food and delivered two sell-out pop-up events as well as a cooking demonstration by Head Chef Robert Stacey.

This was hotly followed by the announcement that the Castle Dairy had achieved the accolade of Neighbourhood Restaurant of the Year at Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards, which celebrate the best of the county’s food and drink, the businesses behind them, and their quality, innovation, and enterprise.

Then, having heard about the Castle Dairy, its innovative approach to education and its fast-growing reputation for exceptional food, Jim Tanfield, Web Editor for, came to dine at the restaurant, to write a review which will soon appear on the globally renowned website.

Robert Marshall-Slater, Head of Culinary Arts at for Kendal College, said:

“Following completion of our brand new kitchen extension we re-opened our doors on Friday the 28th of March and less than three weeks later are just blown away by what our Castle Dairy team has achieved.

‘Our newly renovated restaurant marks a new era for the Castle Dairy and its dedicated apprentices.  It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point and it’s very rewarding to see such positive fruits of our labour.  These successes have been an enormous confidence boost for our apprentices and have inspired them to aim even higher in the months ahead.”

Along with its new state of the art kitchen, the Castle Dairy now boasts a Chef’s Table allowing guests to ‘dine at the pass’ and is open for everything from morning coffee and lavish brunches, to leisurely lunches and indulgent dinners.


The Castle Dairy Restaurant, an apprentice-run fine dining restaurant housed in Kendal’s oldest building, re-opened with a bang last weekend following its latest phase of redevelopment works, in time for a hugely successful Kendal Festival of Food.

Complete with a brand new kitchen extension, state of the art British-built cooking suite and a ‘Chef’s Table’ the Castle Dairy, which is run by Kendal College, hosted two packed out pop-up events, one with renowned chef Ernst Van Zyl from the Lord Clyde in Cheshire, the other its own eight course showcase of exceptional Cumbrian produce.

Builders worked through the night to ensure the renovations were ready in time for Friday’s festivities and on Saturday, Castle Dairy Head Chef Robert Stacy delivered a cookery demonstration for 80 people before hotfooting it back to the restaurant to prepare for that evening’s events.

Robert Marshall-Slater, Head of Culinary Arts at for Kendal College said:

“We really had to pull out all the stops and work round the clock to have everything in time for the festival but it was more than worth it.  These works have been ongoing for the last year and in the planning for much longer so to see them come so successfully to fruition was truly rewarding.

“We catered for a fully booked restaurant on both Friday and Saturday nights and our apprentices were outstanding.  Now our brand new ‘futuristic’ kitchen is fully operational we’re looking forward to really showing what the Castle Dairy can do over the coming months.  It’s our aim for it to be Kendal’s best restaurant.”


The group exhibition at the Castle Dairy is showing up to 50 pieces of work from more than 25 selected Green Door artists on show, including Maggie Berkowitz, Annie Coxey, Evelyn Sinclair, Ann Marie Foster, Diane Rowlinson and Karen Lester.

Work includes paintings from Jill Pemberton who paints on canvas exploring the temporal space with colour, movement and texture, and drypoint prints from Theresa Taylor who develops her ideas from plant structures and organic materials.  There are paintings from recent member John Birch who aims to create pieces of work that are bright, colourful and vibrant, and “Mrs Beeton Recycled” from Elizabeth Shorrock who uses recycled maps and guide books as a basis for books and wall pieces.


Comic Arts Festival Exhibition At The Castle Dairy

16 September to 10 November 2013

Celebrating the new, the innovative, the quirky and more…

…and the wonders of tea!

A J Poyiadgi is a comics creator and filmmaker. He likes the solitary nature of one and the collaborative needs of the other. His comic, Teapot Therapy, was shortlisted for the Graphic Short Story Prize and was coloured with genuine English Breakfast tea. He produces a regular strip for Shots magazine, taking an irreverent look at life in the world of advertising and film. His latest project is Teabag Theories, a micro-comic-in-a-teabag that uses the humble brew to unravel the mysteries of science. This exhibition will provide a glimpse into Andy’s world and there’ll be a Kendal-related theory all of its own unveiled here and at other locations in Town (limited edition, collector’s items!).

Hannah Berry is mostly a graphic novelist, but also a writer, illustrator, occasional lecturer and editorial gun-for-hire, as well as having been three-times tutor for the Arvon Foundation’s Graphic Novel Writing course and Booktrust’s seventh Online Writer in Residence.

This exhibition features artwork from, amongst others, her first graphic novel, Britten & Brulightly, which she began while studying an illustration degree at the University of Brighton, subsequently published by Jonathan Cape in 2008. It has been translated into Italian, Dutch, Serbian and French, with the French edition chosen as part of the official selection for the 2010 Angoulême International Comics Festival. She has exhibited work in solo and collective exhibitions and written for publications including the New Statesman, Dazed & Confused and Huffington Post UK.

Stephen Collins has been hailed as one of comic art’s leading new lights. began cartooning for The Times in 2003, and has since won several awards, including the Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize 2010. He contributes regular comics to the Guardian Weekend and Prospect magazine. His first graphic novel The Gigantic Beard that was Evil was published in May 2013 to great acclaim. It is an off-beat fable worthy of Roald Dahl about life, death and the meaning of beards. Stephen will be appearing in a special live draw event as part of the Festival and is also a judge on the Graphic Short Story Prize 2013. Includes prints for sale.

Getting yourself a girlfriend is easy, according to Richard. All you need is papier mache, string, soft material, a balloon, some old fashioned  bellows, and a good pair of scissors. And his creator, Gareth Brookes, will show you how (if he can manage to shove ‘Jessica’ up to the Lakes from West Byfleet). Winner of the 2012 First Graphic Novel Competition, Brookes will exhibit the life-size girlfriend of Richard’s dreams, and examples of the embroidery and lino-cuts from which he has created his artwork for The Black Project (Myriad Editions, 12 September 2013). Gareth will have hand-made prints for sale.

Castle Dairy opening times

16 September – 17 October & 21 October-10 November normal Castle Dairy opening hours Tuesday-Saturday only

Fri 18 October 10am-11pm, Sat 19 October 10am-11pm, Sun 20 October 10am-5pm


Maple and Pecan Tart

Sweet paste

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 125g of butter
  • 63g of caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 medium eggs


  • 400g maple and agar syrup
  • 150g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 100g pecan nuts

Rub the butter, flour and sugar together, add the beaten egg and mix to a paste. Put the mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes, before rolling out so that the pastry is about 5mm thick. Lay the pastry in a tart case and place a double layer of cling film on top, covering with baking beans. You can use risotto rice, lentils, barley or any other dried pulse for your baking beans. Then blind bake in an oven preheated to 180c for 15 minutes, then leave to cool on the side for a further five minutes.

Mix all of the ingredients for the filling in a food processor. Spoon the blended mixture into the cooled tart case and bake at the same temperature for a further 20 minutes.

Serve with creme fraiche.


The 14th century Castle Dairy is a very special building in many ways. Following its renovation by South Lakeland District Council in 2011, in October 2011 Kendal College took on a lease to run it as a fine dining restaurant and art gallery. Head Chef Robert Stacey now heads a team of apprentices both in the kitchen and front of house, producing and serving food to an exceptionally high standard. This special facility acts as a finishing school for the College’s apprentices. The Castle Dairy also acts as an art gallery for students who can display and sell their work.

​The menus at the Castle Dairy change at least monthly and currently include dishes such as wild rocket soup, tastings of Yew Tree Farm’s Herdwick hogget and pistachio and olive oil cake. Visitors are welcome to pop in for a just a coffee or something more substantial such as lunch or an evening meal. With its log fires, antique furniture and historic ambience, the Castle Dairy also offers the ideal space for a private function.

The current kitchen at the Castle Dairy is, to say the least, tiny. It is amazing how the chef and his two catering apprentices manage to operate in such a small space and the College is therefore committed to extending the kitchen. Outline planning permission has already been granted and the College is now using its own team of a Construction Projects Manager (Ian Walmsley) and his two joinery apprentices (Jareth Cotton and Chris Graveson) to start and complete the project. Ian and his apprentices are coming to the end of manufacturing and fitting all new windows in the College’s Allen building and this has made a huge difference to the sound proofing and warmth of the building.

Steven Doherty dug the first sod of the new kitchen extension as he has had a long association with the College. Mr Doherty was the first British chef to run a three-star Michelin kitchen – La Gavroche, and he developed a cookery school to help chefs hone their skills and experience. In 1991 he joined Albert Roux’s consultancy team which opened the Grand Hotel in Amsterdam and has subsequently successfully run The Brown Horse at Winster and The Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite. He is currently the chef/proprietor of Lakeland Limited’s café in their flagship store in Windermere. Lucy Tonkin recently finished her apprenticeship at the Castle Dairy and is going to work on a new gastro project headed up by Steven Doherty – Lucy will be a huge asset to his team. Once the Castle Dairy apprentices complete their apprenticeships they move on to higher profile jobs primarily within South Lakeland.

The project is being sponsored by the Savoy Trust (£20,000), EC Harris have agreed to provide the health and safety CDM services free of charge and the Waterman Group have agreed to sponsor the mechanical and electrical consultancy free of charge. Scott Hughes have also confirmed that they will give there structural engineering services free of charge. The College is actively seeking other sponsors for other elements of the project such as the oak timbers, specialist walling skills, flooring, wall coverings, lighting and the kitchen itself. In addition, the College is hosting a fund raising dinner and auction on 28 June 2013 to try and raise £20,000. If you have any auction prizes you would like to donate or would like to sponsor the project in any way, please contact the College.

The proposed kitchen extension will be treble the size of the existing one and include a proper store and office space. The kitchen will be fitted out with the latest commercial electrical induction hob in an island unit, leaving plenty of bench space for students to prepare fresh breads, patisseries and desserts as well as creating a salad and vegetable preparation area. At one end of the kitchen, the serving area will double up as a viewing table where cookery school style courses can operate. The building will be light and airy with a seasoned oak timber frame and plenty of windows to allow natural light in and enable the craft of the chef and apprentices to be seen from the outside. Externally, a seating area will be created and the volunteers from Kendal Museum have already created raised gardening beds where edible flowers, unusual herbs and vegetables are being grown.

Fine Dining in Kendal at the Castle Dairy