THE FOUR Winds pub is a firm favourite with locals in the village of Belbroughton, near Kidderminster, Worcestershire.
Owner James Judd has worked with head chef Jay Frith over the past two years to develop a destination trade, with fresh food, cooked to order, at the heart of the menu. One of the key tools in their kitchen is the Samsung CM1929 programmable microwave oven.
"We use it to heat a wide variety of menu items," says James. "With the emphasis on fresh food, we prepare our sauces daily, and don't freeze them. But I don't like to keep the sauces hot on a bain marie, because I feel it would just compromise quality and make it more likely to dry up.
"When an order comes in we like to bring the fresh sauce up to temperature quickly. The Samsung does this quickly and perfectly, without any drying. We also cook fresh vegetables in the microwave, and use it for a variety of other quick heating tasks.
The Four Winds' signature menu item is Belbroughton Lamb. This is a half shoulder of slow-roasted lamb served with Belbroughton sauce, a creamy, minty gravy. The microwave heats the sauce immediately before plating to provide a perfect bed for the lamb.
The daily menu usually offers a choice of three fresh vegetables in season, cooked in a variety of ways. The pub also serves traditional hot English desserts, such as treacle pudding and apple pie.
The programmability of a microwave is a great help to the busy kitchen. Popular items have their own buttons, giving greater consistency.
The Four Winds bought its first Samsung in 2005, not long after James took over the pub. A year later, with the restaurant side getting extremely busy for Christmas 2006, he needed more capacity as well as the programmability for regular menu items.
"We looked at the option of the manual version but while we didn't feel we'd need a programmable model, it offered the extra features for only slightly more cost," says James. "Programmability allows junior staff to just press a button instead of having to memorise all the instructions. It makes for less work and supervision," he adds.