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Taste Buds turns Twenty

Taste Buds magazine is 20 this year!

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To mark two decades of celebrating all that’s great about our foodie scene, we chat to some businesses, producers, makers and more that are also (at least) 20 years old. Chrissy Harris rounds up some familiar faces

Sandford Orchards, Crediton

In 2002, Barny Butterfield began making cider in a shed. That hobby soon became his day job, and Sandford Orchards is now an award-winning, family-run craft cider business in the heart of rural mid-Devon. The working farm combines tradition and innovation to produce a range of small-batch fine and fruit ciders. The team is passionate about using a natural and low-impact approach.

The Cider Works, where the magic happens, is open to visitors who can enjoy a tour of the oldest working cider mill in the country. Things have come a long way from those garden shed days.


South Devon Chilli Farm, Loddiswell

This hot and happening place began in 2003 after a group of hobby gardeners and friends discovered how easy it was to grow chillies in their greenhouses. Heather and Steve Waters, along with Martin and Kaz Phillips, gradually added to and expanded to what has become a hugely successful business. South Devon Chilli Farm – home to more than 10,000 chilli plants – is now very well known and a popular visitor destination.

The original founders retired in 2022, and a spicy new chapter began for the farm with the arrival of new owners and ‘chilli people’, Jenny and Amrit Madhoo.


The Fish Deli, Ashburton

This year marks the 20th anniversary of this amazing little seafood shop. Founders Nick and Michele Legg care passionately about issues or ‘fishues’, as they call them. Their ethos means all their seafood is from sustainable sources and always in season, including the more unusual varieties that are available from local day boats.

Any leftovers are used to create the deli’s hugely popular cooked seafood dishes for customers to enjoy at home. There’s usually a daily special offer or two. Favourites have included their ‘100 per cent fish cakes’ or ling loins in a puttanesca marinade.


The Bay Tree, Ivybridge

Chef Emma Macdonald founded The Bay Tree from her mother’s kitchen table. She knew there was a market for full-flavoured, quality chutneys and preserves and began to develop her brand. That was in 1994. Today, The Bay Tree products are sold in all major supermarkets and in many multinational stores.

The company is currently celebrating ‘30 years of excellence’ and has produced a series of limited-edition recipes to commemorate this major milestone. The delicious-sounding range includes Piccachilli, a piccalilli with added chilli and Chipotle Chilli Mustard, a smooth mustard with a touch of spice.


The Eastern Eye, Newton Abbot

Established in 1990 in Queen Street, The Eastern Eye is very much a part of life in Newton Abbot. Owner Touris Ali (affectionately known as ‘Mr Ali’) is passionate about his menu, which has dishes from south India, north India and West Bengal. Popular choices include Komla chicken and Sri Lankan seafood curry.

Mr Ali is also well known for looking after his staff and loyal customers, as well as supporting local community groups and organisations. The Eastern Eye was one of the finalists in the 2023 Asian Restaurant of the Year: South West.


Foxcombe Bakehouse, Okehampton

Foxcombe Bakehouse started in 1998 when Helen Spooncer began baking at her kitchen table for the family farm shop in Lewdown. Since then, the company has been on the rise, moving to a purpose-built bakery and developing a reputation for a delicious range of cakes, biscuits, bars and more.

Foxcombe now supplies more than 150 shops, garden centres, farm shops, garages and tourist attractions in the South West and beyond.


Luscombe Drinks, Buckfastleigh

Luscombe will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, which is certainly something to aspire to – as is its Royal Warrant. The Buckfastleigh-based firm was awarded the prestigious accolade in 2021 in recognition of its high-quality and sustainably produced range of drinks.

Luscombe produces a selection of soft drinks, including crushes, bubblies, ginger beers, fruit juices and tonic waters, plus a traditional organic Devon cider.

In 2018, Luscombe became involved in an agroforestry partnership on the Dartington Hall Estate, creating the first organically certified elderflower plantation.


Christopher Piper Wines, Ottery St Mary

Christopher Piper Wines was established in 1979 by Chris Piper, who had been working as a winemaker in Beaujolais. In 1980, he was joined by his old friend John Earle and the business was incorporated. 
The two friends took on everything in those early days, from wine buying to packing and deliveries. The company has now grown to become one of the best-known independent wine merchants in the west of England.

The main area of business is supplying top-quality wine to independent hotels, restaurants and pubs in the south of England. Christopher Piper Wines now also has an increasing number of private customers, through a mail-order service and via the firm’s shop in Ottery St Mary.


Dartmouth Food Festival

Snap! This stalwart of the foodie festival calendar is also 20 this year and is planning an event to remember. More than a hundred handpicked exhibitors will gather between 25 and 27 October to celebrate the very best the South West has to offer.

Described as a first-class feast of entertainment, this free-to-enter festival will hold workshops, seminars, tastings, food debates, book talks, signings and demonstrations, which will take place all over the town.

To mark this important milestone, the festival is producing its own cookbook this year: A Celebration of Food, Friendship & Feasting, which will be launched at the event.


Hocking’s Dairy Cream Ices, Appledore

This Devon delicacy has been delighting generations of locals and visitors since David Hocking first began making ice cream in 1936. He bought an electric ice cream maker (many of his competitors were still using a hand-operated machine) and sought advice from the Ice Cream Alliance on how to make a good quality product. He certainly achieved his aim.

Hocking’s ice cream is the stuff of legend and still very much a way of life for this family firm. Two of David’s sons, Geoffrey and Neil, joined the business in the 1970s, followed by great-grandson Andrew in 1990. There are also plenty of younger family members keen to help run the 16 ice cream vans in the summer.


Claire’s Kitchen, Kingsbridge

Claire Wallace has been creating delicious, freshly prepared dishes for private and corporate events in Devon since 1987. Claire’s wealth of experience in planning, cooking and managing large events was started by her gaining the Cordon Bleu Diploma. Now, more than 30 years later, she continues to be committed to giving her time and expertise to ensure every detail is well organised for each Claire’s Kitchen client.

Claire and her team make every part of their menus by hand with great attention to detail, using fresh local produce, and are able to offer produce from the family farm beside the Salcombe/Kingsbridge Estuary, or at least as much as possible from the local area.

Menus include: fully served plated menus, rustic sharing menus, colourful buffets and spit roast/barbecue wood-fired menus, with equipment that offers a visual aspect for your guests, while cooking for large numbers.

Claire explains how one week she may be catering for a barbecue for 150, and another week, a dinner for 50, all keeping the Claire’s Kitchen team on their toes, with a smile on their faces.


Taste of the West, Whimple

Taste of the West is the UK’s largest independent regional food group. It has supported the South West’s food and drink scene for 33 years, promoting fantastic produce from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Its aim is to champion the region’s food and drink producers, as well as all the places that serve and sell the products, to prove that when it comes to what you eat and drink, it really is best in the South West.

Part of its offering is its hugely popular annual awards scheme which helps to ensure high standards are maintained.


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