A Norfolk legend’s favourite meals served at a country pub

This week our Love Your Local Pub of the Week feature spotlights the Parson Woodforde, in Weston Longville.

The people behind the Parson Woodforde pub have scoured the eponymous diarist's works to find out what his favourite dishes were – so they can be recreated in the 21st century.

The original Parson Woodforde had an enormous appetite for food and some of his diary entries record him eating gargantuan meals consisting of roast turkey, skate, a leg of mutton, a brace of partridges and oysters with rhubarb to top it off.

While David Smith and Matt Lock, landlord/head chef and second chef respectively at the pub, don't want to make customers unnecessarily bloated, they believe some of the dishes would go down well with locals two centuries after the parson's time.

Mr Lock said: 'We can create a little niche linked to that history. There's a reference in one of his entries – I think from 1806 – to chocolate jelly, which we have brought back as a popular dessert.

'We can keep on visiting his diaries to come up with new dishes, which should make us unique.'

The pub reopened for business in October last year, after an extensive refurbishment of the restaurant and bar.

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And as well as attracting people paying homage to the village's former diarist, who come from miles around, punters have also started returning from across Norfolk.

Celebrities have also made a beeline for the pub, including TV's Richard and Judy, who are believed to have family in the area, and afterwards praised the pub on live national radio.

Mr Smith and Mr Lock previously worked together at Dunston Hall, just south of Norwich.

Prior to that, Mr Smith, who was born and brought up in Gorleston, worked in several parts of the country.

While in London at the Stand Palace Hotel, he helped make meals for Aled Jones, Esther Rantzen, and the stars of TV shows, Hi-De-Hi and Eastenders, among others.

He even trained with former US President Ronald's Reagan's personal chef.

He said: 'I'm originally from Gorleston, but I've spent nearly all my career outside of Norfolk. I only came back to the county about eight years ago. What interested me about the Parson Woodforde was the fact that it had no ties on food.

'All our suppliers are local and mostly from just a four to five mile radius away.

'We are very much geared towards supporting local suppliers and them supporting us through their patronage.

'We are upmarket, but affordable to everyone, at the same time.'

Mr Lock is also Norfolk born and bred, but he stayed in the county to make his way in life.

He has worked at the Blakeney Hotel in north Norfolk, where he progressed from schoolboy to senior sous chef, and was awarded an AA rosette at Dunston Hall. He said he was especially renowned for his desserts.

The pub, which always has three cask ales on offer, can now also boast four luxury Bed & Breakfast rooms, which are available for a short stay.

It is owned by Dream Link Ltd, based at Norwich International Business Park, which bought the Church Street pub in 2009.

The Evening News has been urging punters to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign. To see more stories from the campaign visit ww.eveningnews24.co.uk /loveyourlocal.

Next week's Pub of the Week is the Ketts Tavern in Norwich.

Do you think that your pub has the history, character and regulars to make it as our Pub of the Week? Call Evening News reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.