There’s a new flame in Cameron Reid’s life in the village of Tholthorpe, four miles from Easingwold. She’s called Eleanor and is bound to turn more than a few heads, while also quite possibly getting some hot under the collar.
That’s because she’s a wood-fired pizza and bread oven at The New Inn, part of pub owners’ Cameron and Dionne Reid’s new business that from this week includes a village bakery, shop and pizza takeaway, as well as pizzas being on the menu.
“We’ve named her Eleanor as it is the tradition in Italy to name your pizza oven, in the same way as ships. We started using her a couple of weeks ago and the theatre she has created has really caught people’s interest. It’s great for our bread too as the temperature for cooking pizzas is around 450 degrees and that means by the next day the oven has dropped down to 200 degrees making it ideal for bread.”
Cameron knows his breads. Born in Prestwick on the Ayrshire coast he spent the first five years of his working life as an apprentice baker before taking in a variety of locations including Torquay, Turin and the Turnberry Hotel as pastry chef and head pastry chef. France, and returns to Scotland have been part of his career too before moving into general sous chef duties at the Lakeside Hotel in Windermere. From there he and a business partner opened a fine dining restaurant in Ulverston but struck unlucky as it was just at the time when foot and mouth disease decimated trade in Cumbria.
His move to Yorkshire saw him settle as head chef at the Durham Ox in Crayke before taking on The New Inn with Dionne. They will have been at the pub 10 years later this year and were married there in 2008.
“Ever since I’d run the restaurant I’d been itching for my own place again, somewhere I could make my own stamp. When we came to Tholthorpe the pub was really run down, but that’s what also made it affordable and four years ago we purchased the freehold from its former owners Punch Taverns.
“I didn’t really know the pub market until I worked at the Durham Ox and found that the fashion for country pubs was towards pub dining. It’s also important to remember it’s a village pub too and while we don’t get everyone coming in, as you never do, we are very much part of the community.”
Tholthorpe’s centre is based around the village green and duck pond with the New Inn at one corner and the Methodist chapel at another.
“We also have a village hall, scouts hall and a butchers, but that’s about it. The post office shut many years ago and locals who have lived here all their lives talk of times when there were three pubs.
“It probably hasn’t had a village shop for a long time either. We were baking bread for ourselves and for use in the restaurant; and we have also been selling over the bar to a handful of people. I thought that a bakery for the village with a shop alongside might work.
“I do what I would call proper bread using a longer fermentation process of around eight hours before going in the oven and we’re also going to be baking a range that includes Danish pastries, croissants, scones and pain au chocolat.”
Cameron and Dionne officially opened the new shop, bakery and wood-fired pizza oven this Thursday. While everything they have done has come about due to their own vision they have been fortunate to have enlisted support from an organisation that believes in the vital role pubs still have to play in village communities.
“We’ve been delighted with the assistance we’ve been given by the Pub is the Hub, a not-for-profit organisation that was started by the Prince of Wales and is run from an office at the Great Yorkshire Showground. They’ve contributed specialist advice on how we should go about it as well as £3,500 towards essentials such as shelving and fitting. They are all about helping pubs such as ours maintain and grow so that we’re still here in the future.”
Local sourcing of fruit and vegetables for the restaurant meals is important to Cameron.
“We have a number of local farmers who supply lamb, pork, beef, potatoes, leeks, onions, free range eggs and asparagus. As well as bread, pastries and now pizzas we also make our own chutneys.”
SUPPORT FOR LOCAL PRODUCE
Cameron and Dionne’s menu in the restaurant encompasses his love of fine dining while also creating the more typical kind of meals that everyone enjoys in a pub atmosphere.
“We don’t quite believe in the pile it high approach and I’d say we’re closer to fine dining overall but I’m well aware that we’re in Yorkshire and people don’t like to feel as though they’re being ripped off,” says Cameron.
“We have some great local producers around here and a great butchers shop who we go through for all our meat. Asparagus is just coming into season and we’ve had our first delivery from Richard Stillman of Helperby.”