Thyme Kitchen is the newest addition to Lichfield’s dining scene. We met the head chef, local girl Susie Mandleberg, to find out more about brilliant brunches
When Susie Mandleberg moved to London four years ago she had no idea that when she finally came home it would be to a job as head chef at a new restaurant in her home city.
The 28-year-old, who was born and raised in Alrewas, had no formal training in food when she moved to the capital in 2016.
She took a front of house role at a brunch cafe in West London, quickly switched to working in the kitchen and discovered her vocation.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I’d always loved cooking so as soon as I started doing it as a job I wondered why I hadn’t been doing it my whole working life.”
That first job in the food industry saw Susie design her own recipes based on seasonal, locally-sourced produce and bold flavours.
After four years she moved on to her first position as a head chef, at a seafood restaurant also in West London.
Just a few weeks later the country went into lockdown and it was during the months that followed that Susie decided to move back home to Staffordshire to be closer to her family and friends.
She was delighted to be the head chef for the launch of Thyme Kitchen in Lichfield, a breakfast and brunch restaurant launched by Beth Toovey of Sauce Supper Club at the former site of Mabel’s Tearoom at Curborough Countryside Centre.
“I absolutely loved working in a brunch restaurant before, so this is the ideal job for me,” said Susie.”
“There were lots of brunch premises in West London, and it’s quite nice to be able to bring that sort of vibe here.
“There’s nothing within a 10 mile radius that’s offering anything similar to what we’re doing. I hope that people will really appreciate it.”
The eclectic menu will include traditional breakfast favourites such as the full English alongside new creations such as baked eggs in a rich tomato and chorizo sauce.
Susie is also working on recipes including Persian eggs – which are served with ingredients including pomegranate seeds, coriander and hummus.
From cakes to sauces, everything possible is being made from scratch on the premises.
The restaurant will open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 4pm, and will serve lunch options alongside breakfast and brunch.
“We’re really focussed on getting seasonal produce onto the menu. British produce is absolutely incredible,” said Susie.
Local suppliers are being used wherever possible, including eggs from just outside Lichfield and sausages from Tamworth.
Susie will lead a team of two in the kitchen and there are due to be four people working front of house.
“We’re currently an all female team,” added Susie. “It’s lovely to have so many strong women working together to get this business up and running. It’s an absolutely fantastic team.”
Thyme Kitchen is based at Curborough Craft Centre, Watery Lane, Lichfield. To find out more visit www.facebook.com/Thyme-Kitchen-108316001003356 and follow @chefsusiemandleberg and @thymekitchen on Instagram for more brunch inspiration.
Thyme Kitchen’s baked eggs in a rich tomato and chorizo sauce
Ingredients – serves 2
1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
1/2 bunch thyme
1 red onions
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
100g cooking chorizo (or 1/2 a chorizo ring; you won’t need to fry this)
Take chorizo out of skin and tear into 3cm pieces. Fry until it starts to darken at edges. Drain and discard any excess chorizo oil and leave to cool.
Thinly slice the red onion. Soften in a deep frying pan on a medium heat with the sunflower/rapeseed oil. Add in the garlic and cook for a further minute. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and leave to reduce for 20 mins, stirring regularly.
Once reduced, add in the thyme and chorizo. The chorizo should give out plenty of smokiness, but if you want to go a little further, add in a tablespoon of sweet smoked paprika.
Cook for a further 10 mins, then crack in four eggs. Take a piece of kitchen foil and cover the pan. This will help to gently steam the top of the eggs, leaving you with a soft runny yolk rather than drying it out.
As soon as the top of the eggs are white and cooked through, remove from the heat and leave to rest for two minutes; the hot sauce will continue to cook the eggs, so don’t worry if they look slightly under done at this point.
Eat straight out of the pan and top with crumbled feta and parsley. Best served with hot buttered sourdough, or griddled pitta and hummus.