Where we go to get the good stuff…
We can – and do – fill our kitchen with creativity, flair, diligence and hard work in the shape of Chris Cleghorn and his amazing team. But excellence which delivers a 2018 Michelin star, retained for five years and counting, arises from the ingredients they work with too. Which is why we’re so focused on finding the finest hotel food suppliers, to make sure we’re giving this highly-skilled team the best raw materials available.
Suppliers like Total Produce and Wellocks, for example, with over 75 and 60 years in the business, respectively. That business being the sourcing and procuring of the finest fresh ingredients, both locally and globally, building long-term relationships with specialist suppliers and demanding kitchens, giving chefs like Chris access to the fantastic fresh produce.
And because we always concentrate on quality, we’ll go where we need to in order to find it, whether the business is small or large, old or new. Forager, from near Canterbury, began early this century with a fascination for what grows locally, and with the sale of a few handfuls of wild garlic to a local restaurant. Not long after, they were selling to Jamie Oliver’s 15 in London, then went on to supply (among others) the likes of The Ivy and Heston Blumenthal.
Lovejoys, by way of contrast, have been in the fresh produce industry for five generations, starting in the 19th century when Jack Rose hauled coal from Chippenham train station to customers in Bromham, where he started a small market garden. Today, Lovejoys is a team of 50 experts with pickers, kitchen staff and the procurement team working round the clock to deliver to restaurants, in a way familiar to many hospitality food suppliers.
We’re in no less need of expertise when it comes to sourcing from the sea. Flying Fish’s founder, Johnny Godden, began by collecting, cleaning and selling Cuttlefish to pet shops when he was 16. From his teens to mid-twenties, working for a local seafood supplier, he rose from filleter to buyer to sales manager, and then moved to Cornwall to found Flying Fish. The hotel food supplier makes sure the finest fish gets from ship to plate inside 48 hours and now supplies many Michelin-starred chefs and restaurants, as do Scotland’s Keltic Seafare, who specialise in live shellfish like hand-dived scallops, langoustines and lobsters.
New Wave Seafood also supply many top restaurants in the Cotswolds and beyond, from, among others, Looe, Plymouth, Brixham, Newlyn and Shetland, as do the Devon Eel Company (previously the Dutch Eel Company, whose owners retired).
N25 Caviar is named after the degrees north where they’re situated, and it’s hard to imagine a more rigorous and uncompromising approach to selecting and producing caviar. Each fish is hand selected based on its roes’ maturity, colour and size. The second selection takes place before salting, after which the caviar that’s up to scratch is aged in Germany, ready for its third and last selection.
Of course, we’re deadly serious about where everything comes from, and – in time, when space permits – we’ll let you know about where we get, for example, our bread, dairy products, tea and coffee, juices, condiments, eggs, oils, honey and truffles. But having given you an idea about where we go for fresh produce and fish, we can hardly slip away without mentioning the meat, so often the star of the show on Chris’s menus. Freshness, provenance, sustainability and taste: much as it should go without saying, we have to stress the importance of these factors when choosing where we find the best meat, so it’s a given that all of these suppliers have demonstrable experience of providing it.
Walter Rose & Son are catering and retail butchers with over 50 years’ experience of traditional British breeds, today’s farming methods and never compromising in the careful selection of meat from farms in Wiltshire and Somerset. Woolley Park Farm, near Bradford on Avon, is also a longstanding family business. They supply us with turkeys, geese, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl and game, and always prepare birds by dry-plucking and hanging, which means their meat retains flavour, texture and succulence.
We also buy from Huntsham Court Farm, in the Wye Valley, owned by Richard and Rosamund Vaughan, whose family have been running the business for almost 400 years, specialising in producing meat from traditional breeds – Longhorn cattle, Middle White pigs and Ryeland sheep – and hanging it traditionally until it reaches perfect maturity.
Continuing the theme of generations of expertise, Udale Speciality Foods, run by the Udale brothers, Ian and Neil, was founded by their great grandfather in 1905 and continues the long family tradition of regularly winning awards, and of supplying and retaining many discerning customers.
As far as cured meats go, we’re very partial to Denhay Bacon’s, high-quality bacon. Their expert curers hand-rub, cure, mature and smoke their bacon to guarantee its unique flavour. And – although it might not seem the obvious place for it – Shropshire Salumi have absolutely nailed every part of the salami-making process: local, outdoor-reared Gloucester Old Spots, ethically-sourced, high-quality spices, traditional casings and, as a result, full-flavoured, richly-textured salamis and cured meats.
These are familiar tales: businesses with bags of passion for what they do, taking great care, never settling for so-so, always delivering the best, enabling Chris and his team to turn ingredients into Michelin star dishes, year after year. We’re always grateful for these producers’ perfectionism, and happy to have been, and to continue be, their partners in this process.