Theatre of Dreams - Sheffield Food Festival 2018

An excellent event all round The Sheffield Food Festival 2018 had at its heart the Theatre Kitchen which featured three full days of chef presentations, demonstrations and general fun.  We were particularly keen to see our Head Chef, Lee Mangles compete in a Ready Steady Cook style contest with Chris Hanson from Blend Sheffield.

Chris Hanson from Blend Sheffield, and Lee Mangles from PJ taste line up with representatives from Food Cycle and compère Justin Rowntree from SweetSpot Hospitality Consulting 

Chris Hanson from Blend Sheffield, and Lee Mangles from PJ taste line up with representatives from Food Cycle and compère Justin Rowntree from SweetSpot Hospitality Consulting 

In the event the session turned out to be a great education for us all about some of the excellent community food initiatives taking place in Sheffield.  Justin Rowntree from Sweetspot Hospitality Consulting did an entertaining and at the same time informative job of controlling the chefs and linking up with representatives from Food Cycle.

After receiving a bag of beautiful seasonal vegetables from Food Cycles the Chefs quickly put together their thoughts on a menu.  Both decided on two dishes, Lee a slightly more simple chargrilled asparagus and halloumi stater with a Thia curry and Chris with an ambitious bread making challenge.  This he was pairing with homemade baked beans and a courgette fritter.

As the Chefs got to work we heard from Food Cycle.  In Sheffield they currently have projects at Gleadless, Firth Park and Lowedges as well as Sharrow and St Barts.  Using donated food and volunteers they produce meals for homeless people and others in local communities.  It was clear that this is done with great passion by all the people involved and helps bring food in as a highly positive social tool both in its consumption and preparation.  They are keen to attract more volunteers and people who wish to be involved through donation of food or simply to take part in the whole community aspect.


With time running out the Chefs started to plate up.  Justin putting Chris off his train of thought (and perhaps slightly cheekily pointing out that Chris was not good at mutli-tasking) questioned him about his forthcoming restaurant opening.  Blend soon to be on Pinstone Street on the site of the old Fusion shop, is a social enterprise with a vision to use cuisine and hospitality enhance people's lives.  Chris shared his passion for the venture and we were able to meet some of the staff who are having the opportunity of employment and a way into work that they may not normally be afforded.  We wish Chris and his team all the best for their opening.

Having been impressed by the community work going on around us the result of the contest was becoming less important than the overall celebration of food.  However, for the record the appointed judge on the day awarded a narrow victory to Lee, despite Chris's heroic and impressive effort at producing flat bread as well as his two dishes in half an hour!

A big thanks to the contestants, Food Cycle the Sheffield Food Festival and Justin for providing such great entertainment.

Wedding tastings at our meeting and dining venue in Sheffield

Creative Wedding Menus using Local Sourced Ingredients 

Rhian and Sam’s Wedding Tasting Upstairs@PJtaste Amazing Food, Great Venue

Mother of the Bride Julie Oxley
— Julie Oxley

Richard and Becky say "I do" this summer at a stunning new venue. We are as excited as Richard and Becky are about their special day. A lovely fresh summer wedding breakfast is on the menu with lots of salad with interesting leaves and a variety of edible flowers from Peter's home grown plot. They were so delighted with their food, that what they couldn't quite manage to eat on the tasting day was all boxed up for them to take away. This included the fresh sourdough bread which Peter had baked especially for them that afternoon.  


Big Smiles 

Richard and Becky enjoyed an evening Upstairs@PJtaste saying "Thank you we loved it"

We enjoy getting creative with our menus and to include the bride and groom in creating the perfect menu to compliment their wedding day at Horsleygate Farm 


Mini Cheesecakes Platter

These little gems made in on to the wedding menu but didn't quite make it home with them. 

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Ben was a natural..

at carving the joint of beef..

Bridget and Ben came to our new venue Upstairs@PJtaste. We invited them to sample a few dishes from their wedding menu.

Focusing on the Roast Beef joints served whole to be carved at the table. Here's  a pic of a mini version to serve our four delighted guests.Ben and Bridget tie the knot in just a few short weeks and were very keen to fine tune their menu. Our head chef Lee Mangles (who had prepared the meal in our production kitchen on the ground floor of our premises) was very surprised when he came upstairs to chat about the menu with our wedding couple. Ben and Lee recognised each other immediately. They had actually worked together a few years earlier. We all had a great time remenising with canapes, roast beef with all the trimmings and not forgetting delicious desserts.

We are all really looking forward to their  "Big Day" at Kelham Island Museum



Sample Canape Selection 

Seasonally Inspired Locally Sourced at PJ taste

"PJ taste are experienced caterers with a passion for creating delicious food from locally sourced and own grown produce. 

We have our own stylish 100 seat meeting, dining and event space in Attercliffe with our team of professional chefs and dedicated service staff on site to provide a really warm and personal service.  Our external event catering is delivered with our electric vans providing for a range of occasions from breakfasts to business lunches and dinners through family celebrations such as weddings and canapes receptions".  Clients include Gripple, The University of Sheffield, BBC, ARUP, Wake Smith, BHP, and The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

We would like to invite you to subscribe to our mailing list there is a link on this page. We will send out the occasional newsletter featuring interesting foodie stories about what we have been getting up to at  PJtaste.

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Celebrate Autumn's bounty with our special buffet menu

Featuring our own Sheffield grown food and artisan Derbyshire produce our special buffet for Autumn 2016 captures the essence of nature's bounty.

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Menu - Cold Fork Buffet

Fresh baked courgette and cheddar quiche (PJ taste grown courgette) (V)
Platters of PJ taste Sheffield Eggs – Moss Valley pork, Hendos
Stanage Millstone Cheese – a new cheese made in Hathersage served with PJ taste baked bread and our plum chutney (Sheffield grown plums) (V)
Roasted beets, carrots and Jerusalem artichoke with a herby tahini sauce  (v)
 Potato salad with chives (PJ taste grown chives)
Selection of PJ taste Sheffield rhubarb Bakewell and bowl of Hazelhurst organic heritage apples (Sheffield grown)

Free delivery for orders of 10 or more people in Sheffield please book on   0330 043 1954 or

Some Customer feedback:
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in our event on Friday, the day was a huge success and we have received some very positive comments throughout the practice. Your excellent communication prior to the event and the attention to detail we received was military perfection which did not go unnoticed.
Sally Hutchinson, Senior Office Manager, Purcell July 2016

I would like to say a massive thank you from myself and all at Wake Smith.  Your service and food has been excellent and it has been a pleasure working with you. 
Bridie Mulgrew, Marketing Executive, Wake Smith Solicitors.  May 2016

I wanted to write to thank you for the wonderful catering at our event last Friday.   Not only was the quality of the food and drink exemplary but your accommodating and calm approach was very much appreciated by myself and colleagues. 
Alan Dick, Head of Policy, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills


Our daily bread

Purists may blanch but we have developed a simple, overnight method to make delicious sourdough bread.

There is certainly a place for the specialist bakers like Chad Robertson of Tartin (see these amazing videos) and they have been a major inspiration.  But in a busy kitchen concerned with making a full range of dishes a consistent and fail safe method which can easily fit in the daily varied kichen environment is essential.  We still habour ambitions to one day explore the intricate avenues of specialist baking further but for now here is our recipe and method.  I have listed some more in depth resources at the end of this piece for when you get more into this art.

Good sourdough bread, as opposed to a lot of modern industrial bread, is simply made from flour, salt and water.  Instead of using yeast a natural starter or leaven is used.  The starter is simply a mix of flour and water which over a period of days left at room temperture develops into a living, fermenting pool of goodness.  The acid tang which becomes such an appealing facet of soughdough is from the lactic acid produced as a by product of this fermentation by bacterial action.  There is lots of evidence that making bread in this way has a number of health benefits over using commercial yeast and potentially many more over buying mass produced bread.  We will explore this in a subsequent post.

In keeping with our desire to use local ingredients we choose Yorkshire flour milled by Bradshaw's in Driffield.  We use a 50/50 mix of the aptly named "Hercules" a strong white and their wholemeal.  Sea salt and Sheffield water are the other two ingredients.

The only part of this recipe process that take some planning is the preparation of the starter which you need to do a week before your first bake.  There are a lot of detailed descriptions of how to do this like this one here.  However, you can get going simply by mixing an equal quantity by weight wholemeal flour and water in a convenient plastic or crockery pot.  Leave at room temperature and for the next 3 or 4 days pour half away each day topping back up with 50/50 flour/water.  The natural yeasts from the flour and bacteria should start a fermentation and after a few days you will notice activity in your starter.  So bubbling, tangy aromas and a change in consistency will be noticable.  If you are baking regularly, say two or three times a week, you can simply keep it going indefinetely by feeding at least every other day and definetely the day before you plan to bake.  If you are more sporadic in your baking you can slow down the fermentation by keeping in a fridge with the feeding regime also down to once a week.  Simply remove from the fridge a few days before baking and feed as before to reinvigorate before using.

We base our recipe around a kilo of flour.  This makes us two good sized loaves of around 900g each.  The method could not be simpler:

1kg flour (we mix half white and half wholemeal)
1 tbsp of sea salt
550g warm water
250g of the starter (feed the night before)

Mix in a bowl and turn out to knead for approximately 7 minutes or mix in the the bowl of your mixer and then mix with the dough hook for 7 minutes.  Then cover in the bowl with cling film and rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours (a temperature of 25C° is good but at least 20C°).  We simply sit the dough in its bowl on top of an oven which being in use most of the day gives us the required temperature (give or take).  When I am making bread at home I find the airing cupboard is the best bet for a snug and consistent temperature

The dough proves during this time with the yeasts starting to feed on the starch/gluten to convert it to CO2 and alcohol.  At higher temperatures (say up to 40 C°) this occurs quite quickly and the excess alcohol can create unwanted flavours.  However, given time the bacteria present itself feeds on the alcohol producing more desirable flavour compounds - this is why artisan bakers often "retard" the fermentation by putting the dough into colder storage (or even the fridge) over night. 

To make the process manageable we make the dough, do the initial 1-2 hours prove and then shape and place  into proving baskets (bannetons) towards the end of the working day.   The slower final prove then takes place in the cool kitchen overnight.

The baskets are made of canes with a concentric circle pattern and give the bread its disinct pattern.  When shaping the dough its a case of carefully dividing your dough into two and with the minimum of flour fold the sides carefully up and into the centre to form as uniform a ball shape as you can.  You then flip the ball over so that the seam is underneath and using the sides of your hands fold down and under whilst rotating the dough.  This neatens up the ball and forms a tight smooth surface across the top of the ball.  Finally lift the ball and place smooth (top) side down into the floured baskets.  All sounds a little complicated but watching a video makes much more sense.

At this point we simply pop the baskets into plastic bags to maintain a moist environment and leave overnight.  In the winter the cool kitchen temperature (approx 10C°) is ideal for a slow development over 12 hours so that first job at 7am is to turn out and bake.  If your kitchen is warmer over night you will need to find a cooler place (or warm fridge) to ensure the dough does not over develop in this longer peroiod.

So first thing in the moring we prepare to bake.  We get an oven to 220C° with a tray of boiling water on the lowest shelf.  We then turn out the bread onto floured baking trays and cut the surface in a simple pattern with a razor blade.  This helps form a good crust as well as giving a lovely final appearrance.

The picture below shows the loaves after the inital higher temperature bake where the "oven lift" has done its work.

After 10 minutes baking we turn the oven down to 180C° and cook for another 20-30 minutes. You are looking for a good dark colour (develops flavour as sugars are caramelised) and a hollow sound when you tap the base of the cooked loaf to judge when it is ready.


Allow to cool and enjoy your own amzingly flavoured bread.  Its last really well, easily up to a week and even after that still makes good toast.  You will find it hard to go back to any other bread!

For further information I can recommend: Tartine Bread Books  Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley and Bread: River Cottage handbook 3 by Daniel Stevens