It’s hello to John and goodbye to Eric

Changes at two Hathersage venues. MARTIN DAWES reports

John Parsons: back in Hathersage

JOHN PARSONS has taken over as head chef of Hathersage Social restaurant, replacing Cary Brown who has left to pursue a new venture in Sheffield.

Cary enigmatically announced on Facebook that the business, previously known as Earnshaw & Brown at Hathersage Social, was now simply Earnshaw.

For John, who had been cooking at the quirky staff canteen at Breedon Cement Works, it was a chance to return to his home village, where he has worked at different venues over the years.

Breedon was perhaps the only canteen which served tomatoes on toast with za’atar spices, Japanese noodles and other world foods and was also open to all-comers.

It had been a nice little number, acting as a base for outside catering, until Covid restrictions barred the canteen to its own workers. John survived by cooking takeaways for the surrounding villages.

“It’s been two and a half years since I have been in a serious kitchen and did I feel it!” he said on his first day back. His first menu has John Parsons written all over it from the beef cheek Marmite and sauce gribiche to the much-copied Three Little Pigs ‘with pig sauce.’

Owner Earnshaw diplomatically declines to discuss past events althoiugh he did say he had sold his Aston Martin to tide restaurant and staff over during Lockdown in the absence of furlough funding. Instead he enthuses about the menu including “a spectacular Paris Brest.”

Lisa Everest, known to many from years front of house at Yankees on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, will manage the restaurant.

Eric Marsh: bishop blessed his hotel

ERIC MARSH has sold the three star George Hotel which he took over a quarter of a century ago as “a rundown pub with rooms and a toilet with a condom machine” and turned into a plush three star hotel.

It is now being run as a companion hotel to The Maynard at Grindleford, owned by care home millionaire Peter Hunt, and Maynard general manager Rob Hattersley has taken over the lease.

Eric. who jokingly referred to the George as his pension fund, for many years also ran the Cavendish Hotel at Baslow on behalf of the Chatsworth Estate. Observers referred to the George as Cavendish-lite; he himself called it as “like the Cavendish but without the view.”

One of the old school, he encouraged loyalty in both staff and customers. He could work a dining room with consumate ease, leaving guests feeling they had known him for years, not minutes.

Very much hands on, it was his voice you heard on the recorded announcement if you rang while reception was engaged.

Outside the hospitality business he built and flew his own aeroplane.

At both the Cavendish and George, he had a gift for public relations and PR spin. A few years ago, to drum up business, he threw a party to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the latter. That would date it from 1515 but the earliest records are from the 1700s.

Nothing daunted, he offered an overnight stay to anyone who could come up with documentary evidence to back his claim. As far as is known the prize was untaken. But he did get the George blessed by a bishop.

Rob paid tribute to Eric as “an inspiration for Derbyshire hospitality for many years.”

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