It’s a tough time for hospitality with venues closed since November, but one restaurant is still receiving rave reviews.
Like many of the UK’s best restaurants, Factory Kitchen in Ilkeston has designed a ‘Dine at Home’ menu where food lovers gather everything they need, ready-made, for a premium three-course meal. .
All they have to do is warm up and prepare themselves.
Delicious, amazing, fantastic and generous portions are some of the applause left by customers on review sites for dishes like beef flat iron with melting potatoes and green pepper sauce.
As well as salmon accompanied by sticky black rice and a lobster and crab sauce.
And at £ 20 per head, that’s a real bargain.
Chef Jacob Robinson is the mastermind behind the menus, bringing a wealth of experience gained from the kitchens of famous Michelin-starred chefs Marcus Wareing and Richard Corrigan in London.
London’s loss is Ilkeston’s gain, with Jacob and his kitchen team now creating 60 sold-out takeaways every Friday and Saturday, hitting 114 for Valentine’s Day weekend.
The 26-year-old said: “The response was fantastic right away, really good. Some people have ordered every menu from November. We are obviously doing something good to keep people coming back.
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“I think the main thing was to try to make it affordable for the locals.
“You see these great chefs doing it for £ 50 and £ 60 + per person and that’s just not what people are going to pay here so when I write the menus it’s about making it affordable and accessible for normal people.
“We could charge what these other big guys are doing, but it’s not fair to our region. Ours is really good value for money and it shows how much reps we’re getting.”
Before the pandemic, Jacob was spending most of his day serving brunches at the Mundy Street restaurant and a small plate menu Thursday through Saturday night, having joined the kitchen a few months earlier in November 2019.
He was put on leave during the first lockdown in March 2020.
He said: “It was awful. I hated it. I didn’t do much, just home in the sun like most people.
“It was so much easier because of the weather and it felt like a novelty, but by the time he came back a second time in November the weather was cold and the nights dark and everyone was a little fed up, c was completely different. “
It was Jacob’s identical twin brother Thomas, an accountant, who suggested a meal kit that diners could complete at home when the second lockdown was imposed, closing the restaurant again after the brief summer reopening.
He said: “We did it almost right away. I introduced it to Kev and Jane (the owners). My twin brother gave me the idea. He said you should try this, the people will love it, end up at home, they will feel like the bosses, so he really takes the credit. “
Turning standard restaurant food into a collectible meal kit for patrons has certainly proven to be a challenge.
“It takes a lot longer than you think. Each individual item needs to be packaged and labeled separately, while in the kitchen you divide it as needed when it comes out in the restaurant. It is completely different.
“Last week we counted all the different packaging and label items and it was 1,585. My hours are more dispersed and I’m only there very late at night, but it takes quite a long time. and more than people would realize.
“The instructions are probably my biggest headache, getting them right because I know people are really going to trust me and take them extremely literally and want to do it right so they follow every word and that worries me. more but so far everything is fine, Jacob said.
The menus have gone from changing monthly to bi-monthly and the current menu offers three different options for each starter, main course and dessert.
Enticing diners right now are dishes of smoked salmon fishcake, Savoy cabbage porchetta and smoked bacon and kaffir milk and coconut rice mousse with caramelized pineapple and vanilla.
It’s not just a treat for meat eaters, with vegetarian and vegan dishes of fregola sarda pasta with tahini and candied lemon vinaigrette, carrot tarte tatin and rhubarb and apple crumble.
A special Mother’s Day menu will be online soon.
After training as a chef at Roundhouse, Derby College, he worked at the Dovecote restaurant at Morley Hayes Golf Club near Ilkeston before gravitating to Big Smoke.
Working at Marcus Wareing’s two Michelin star restaurant was a revelation. “It was very difficult. The environment changes you as a person and as a leader. It’s so intense and really complete. It makes you a lot more alert and focused,” he said.
He then honed his skills for two years at Corrigan’s Mayfair, the restaurant of celebrity Irish chef Richard Corrigan, a seasoned judge of the BBC’s culinary competition for professionals, Great British Menu.
“I really loved it. He’s a really good boss. Corrigan really took care of you. You were fed well and you took breaks and Richard himself was fantastic.
“He would laugh and the passion this man has is amazing. If anyone told me about how I was as a boss or chef, I would like to be like Richard Corrigan.”
When Jacob returned to Derbyshire with his girlfriend, who was studying at the Royal Veterinary College in London, he returned to work as a sous chef at Morley Hayes for three years.
During this time he was invited to be a guest chef at the Factory Kitchen and impressed owners Kev and Jane Pierrepont so much that they appointed him chef.
“I’m still learning what I love,” said Jacob, who added that his cooking doesn’t reflect any particular style.
“We have big plans to move the restaurant forward immediately after we reopen, so in the short and medium term, long term, who really knows?
“Each chef wants their own place, but in the meantime I’m very lucky that Kev and Jane are giving me the freedom. It’s the perfect place for me right now in terms of location and collaboration.”
Foodie Suzy O’Connor, who had eaten at Factory Kitchen before last year’s lockdown, tried a number of “at home” experiences, including one from celebrity seafood chef Rick Stein and was very impressed with the offer and price of Ilkeston restaurant.
She said: “The menu was on their website, I emailed my choices with the date I wanted to pick up. I changed my mind twice as the menu was very nice, but they were fine , adapting to my late updates.
“The food was amazing. It was simple to prepare, unfortunately disappointed with my inexperience in making a beautiful dish, but it was so tasty. We actually couldn’t eat it all, so we had dessert the next day. “
Blogger Joe Corr, who tweets as Guys Who Dine, said: “We’ve been fans of the very talented chef Jacob ever since he took over the kitchen.
“The dishes he produces are exceptional. Before confinement, we had the pleasure of trying the tasting menus he created.
“Hosts Kev and Jane and their lovely, friendly staff add to the experience of visiting such a gem in Ilkeston. Since the lockdown, we have been delighted that The Factory Kitchen has decided to make a Dine at Home alternative.
“We’ve had several, and they’ve all been superb and easy to prepare. A true home cooking experience. Jacob’s vegan options are so good he almost transformed us … but these guys don’t are not made to transform completely. “
Owner Kev said, “I think, like many businesses across the country, Dine at Home meals have become a necessity for survival.
“The gap between government aid and fixed bills needs to be closed, in our case it’s a gap of around £ 2,000 per month. We’re better off than most because we own the building. but we still don’t have the cash reserves to sustain this kind of loss.
“On the other hand, we have seen quite a few new customers talking about the quality of Jacob’s food.
“Looking at the near future, I wouldn’t like to see a partial open with a lot of restrictions. I prefer to be patient and open as much as possible to normal, but the goalposts seem to be constantly on the move.
“I think we’ll be offering Dine at Home for some time to come.”