Christmas tips - Festive focus

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We ask pub chefs for their tips on surviving the Christmas rush. Steven Prescott, head chef, the Eagle & Child, Bispham Green, Lancashire. Top...

We ask pub chefs for their tips on surviving the Christmas rush.

Steven Prescott​, head chef, the Eagle & Child, Bispham Green, Lancashire.

Top Christmas tip:"Be focused. You know it's going to be a busy time so try to keep smiling through it and it will soon be over. It's not worth getting stressed about."Desert island Christmas dish:"Turkey and bacon fillet with cranberry. The meat flavours blend with the sweetness of the cranberries."Brussels sprouts:"I love eating them but they are a pain to prepare. I sprinkle toasted almonds over them."Top turkey cooking tip:"I cook lots of small birds rather than a few big ones. I find smaller turkeys are more flavoursome and retain moisture better than large birds."

Clive McIntyre​, Hawk & Buckle Inn, Etwall, Derby.

Top Christmas tip:"I think you need to be confident that you'll be busy. If you are underprepared then you could come unstuck when the customers flood in. Staff up and stock according to the best possible scenario for your pub."What's Santa bringing you?:"I'd like him to come down the chimney and say: 'the Government's had second thoughts about the new licensing laws'."Desert island Christmas dish:"Valentine chicken stuffed with chestnuts and some cranberries, served with a selection of English root vegetables. I'd follow it with an alcoholicflavoured sorbet."Brussels sprouts:​ "I love them cooked well but can't stand mushy over-boiled Brussels sprouts that my Gran used to make." Top turkey cooking tip:"Don't walk away from the oven. You've got to keep an eye on the bird and keep basting it."

Ian Walker​, licensee, the Blue Anchor, Greenalgh, Lancashire.

Top Christmas tip:"Planning, planning, more planning and more planning; it's basic stuff but it's essential to avoid ending up in a muddle. Make sure you know what you are cooking. Christmas is also a good opportunity to build a database on your customers."​ Desert island Christmas dish:"Christmas pudding with mince pies and a sweet rum sauce. I've definitely got a sweet tooth."Brussels sprouts:"I love them but only at Christmas. I like them cooked with a bit of butter."Top turkey cooking tip:"Pay attention to recommended cooking times or you'll end up with a raw or burnt turkey."

Lewis Singletary​, head chef, the Manor House, Braunton, Devon.

Top Christmas tip:"Make sure that you have hired and rained the extra staff you require. The perfect Christmas is down to perfect planning."What's Santa bringing you:"A big bag of money - I'm getting married in 2005."Desert island Christmas dish:"Roast sirloin with a rich red wine jus - a tastier alternative to turkey."Brussels sprouts:"I've liked them since I was a kid."​ Turkey cooking tip: "Place bacon between the bird's skin and its flesh to prevent the meat drying up."

Killian Callender​ ,Head chef, the Merrie Harriers, Cowbeech, Herstmonceux, East Sussex.

Christmas tip:"It's essential to prepare early and extensively."Dessert island Christmas dish:"Its got to be my mum's Christmas pudding with brandy butter. She makes the puddings one year in advance, which gives them an extra special flavour."Brussels sprouts:"I certainly don't like them on their own, but with a bit of garlic and gingerthey're great."Turkey cooking tip:"Pay attention to cooking times and don't leave it in the oven too long."

Gareth Davies​, The Windmill, Adlington, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

Top Christmas rush tip:"Work as many hours as God sends and hope for the best."Desert island Christmas dish:"Roast goose. It's a very fatty bird but that means the meat stays moist and delicious."Brussels sprouts:"I love them. I can't understand why they have such a bad press. Perhaps it's because I am an old-fashioned farm boy and grew up with them."Top turkey cooking tip:"Keep basting the bird throughout cooking to stop it drying out. I use flavoured butters and herbs like thyme or rosemary. Also, keep the turkey covered for three quarters of its recommended cooking time to keep moisture in."

John Williams​,Head chef, the Bull Country Bistro, Shocklach, Malpas, Cheshire.

Top Christmas rush tip:"Get planning. Ensure that your menu is drawn up well in advance and be sure to have enough staff to cover for such a busy period."Dessert island Christmas dish:"Roast duck with a plum sauce. Duck is beautifully succulent and the plum sauce gives it a great sweetness."On Brussels sprouts:"I absolutely hate them. They're a national crime and it's wrong that we force children to eat them!"Top turkey cooking tip:"Put the bird on a bed of onions and raw vegetables. This will stop it sticking to the tray during cooking."

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