Bon Viveur Lives On
Nestled in the stunning Norfolk countryside is a treasure in this county’s dining delights. Brasted’s, located at Manor Farm Barns in Framingham Pigot, is run by a team who are totally passionate about food and are committed to taking the customer on the very best gastronomic journey possible.
Directors Nick Mills, Chris Busby and Michael Zouvani are all completely operational staff and have devoted their lives to the discovery, development and enjoyment of fine dining.
They worked alongside founder, the late John Brasted, who was renowned for his excellent outlook on food and his philosophy of ‘great company, fabulous food and wonderful wines as often as possible.’ He was hailed as one of the industry’s ‘great Bon Viveurs.’
Today the team are dedicated to keeping John’s vision alive and pushing the restaurant forward in every way possible.
Nick first joined Brasted’s in 1991 as a part time waiter while studying a BSc in Business Management at UEA and a BA in Hospitality at Norwich City College. After working in some of London’s finest hotels and restaurants including the Royal Court Hotel, Sloane Square, The Capital Hotel and La Gavroche it was Norfolk that eventually drew him back. In 1994 Nick was made general manager, and in 2000 managing director.
He said ‘I am just totally committed to Norfolk and the produce available here. We are so lucky to be in such a wonderful location and here at Brasted’s and I think we strike just the right balance between excellent food and fantastic service.’ He jokes ‘Sometimes I am a little jealous of my clientele as I would love to come to the restaurant as a customer more often.’
Executive chef and director Chris joined Brasted’s in 1996, also gaining experience working alongside John. His passion for orderly neatness comes from 15 years spent as a sergeant in the army corps and it is this and his flair for food artistry that saw him promoted to head chef at the age of 29. Chris left in 1998 pursuing a freelance career which lead to various ventures including the intense environment of theatre restaurants in London. Chris returned to Brasted’s in 2002 and in 2008 became a director.
Michael graduated from Norwich City College with a BA Honours degree in Hospitality Management in 1997. He went on to gain experience managing local hotels and gastro pubs before setting up his own pub/restaurant, The Arc in Banham, specialising in Greek food. He joined Brasted’s in 2005 becoming general manager and in 2008 he became a director.
In June last year the team took on a new head chef Martin Recchi. Martin’s father was a talented Italian chef and this fired his initial passion. He trained at West Suffolk and Westminster colleges before working under some top chefs in London and Australia including the Roux Brothers, Justin North of Becasse in Australia and Gordon Ramsay. He also built up an excellent reputation locally working for many years at the Wildebeest Arms.
Nick said ‘Martin has really freshened up the menu with his depth of knowledge of food. We have always been well known for our old English style dishes and now Martin brings an excellent European twist to the dishes. We are hoping that a younger clientele will appreciate this so that the menu has something for everyone. Both Chris and Martin are fantastic chefs but put them together and they really sparkle.’
Martin has a strong philosophy to buy local: ‘We always try to buy fresh produce from local farms where possible. I am not going to try to pretend that every bit of our produce comes from down the road but we will always try to use the local farmshop first. The taste of local produce is so much better and we have excellent communication with our local suppliers, they understand us and we understand the way they work and we all benefit from that.’
The menu, which changes every 5 to 6 weeks, embraces the seasons. Nick said ‘Changing the menu keeps everything fresh and from the chef’s point of view it challenges them to keep creative. We also have regular customers who come to eat as much as once or twice a week so we want the menu to be exciting for them.’
Martin added ‘I try to make every menu better and more intricate. I am always trying to move forward and we all look out for new products and ideas.’
Just as much thought goes into the wine lists too. Chris said ‘Nick’s knowledge of wine really is excellent – it is a personal passion of his. We regularly attend wine tastings with suppliers, many of which are local, and we carefully consider what is going to be on the menu next and select wines to complement the dishes. We also try to choose a good selection for every palate and a choice that is affordable to everyone.’
Since Martin has joined the restaurant team it has given Chris more time to focus on the other side of the business – their renowned event and outside catering service. Chris said ‘We have over 20 years experience in outside catering and event production, and are widely regarded as one of the best in the area. All our events are bespoke and we have the experience to ensure everything runs smoothly. We aim to create exactly what the customer wants.’
So with an award winning 2AA rosette restaurant, a boutique B & B with breakfasts to die for and a prestigious event and outside catering service it is no wonder Brasted’s is a delight to discover.