Head Chef, The Gilbert Scott
About a month ago, I arranged a team day out with a few of the chefs from each of the restaurants, to visit one of our vegetable suppliers, First Choice. We met in New Covent Garden Market where we were joined by Dan Jerome (Sales Director and my point of contact at First Choice) who had kindly organised a day trip to one of the growers we use. After a quick look around First Choice HQ, we left the city behind us and headed North East.
We arrived at the farm in Toftwood, Norfolk and were met by Allan and Sue Millar. They began their family business, Nurtured in Norfolk, around six years ago, and both used to work as chefs. They started growing their own herbs and cress in a greenhouse in their garden, supplying the restaurant they worked in. On the success of this, they decided to start their own business to supply other restaurants and a range of wholesalers.
It was a full on sensory experience.
Having both worked as chefs, they understand the quality and consistency their customers are looking for and are constantly developing new products.
We made our way through the various greenhouses in which herbs, cresses, baby vegetables and edible flowers are grown. Whilst we learned about the different produce and its complexities, we also had the chance to sample everything. It was a full on sensory experience.
I was amazed by how each plant reacts differently to slight adjustments of temperature or movement in the air, how important the right balance of soil is and the effect it can have on the different plants.
As a chef, I feel it’s important to go on trips like this as it introduces a greater level of respect and understanding for the produce we see and use daily. It can be very easy to forget/not realise where ingredients we use every day actually come from and how much effort goes into producing them.
…it’s always time well spent when you are with people who are passionate about what they do.
I feel that is it equally important for me to do as much as I can to help my team develop their skills and learn about the industry through visits like these, to help them establish themselves as chefs and help with their careers. It is the very least I can do to repay the incredible commitment and hard work they give me every day.
It was a fascinating day spent with the Millars – it’s always time well spent when you are with people who are passionate about what they do.
…a nice colourful dish for this time of year.
Our new Dorset crab dish in fact features coriander cress from Nurtured in Norfolk. I love coriander and crab together as it has a savoury citrus flavour that pairs really well. The dish is an interesting balance of textures with the soft crab, crunchy vegetable and nuts. It’s a great mix of flavours: the freshly picked white crab, the earthy brown crab aioli, the pickled and salted vegetables and the citrus from the grapefruit and the coriander. It’s also a nice colourful dish for this time of year.