Taste Buds speaks to Tim Ware from the Digger's Rest in Woodbury Salterton
Tim began his career at Michael Caines’ Abode restaurant while he was still at catering college. He has worked in a handful of top-quality restaurants, including locally at the Jack in the Green, and started at The Digger’s Rest in August 2010. Tim’s cooking style is homely food with a modern twist, using ingredients from within a few miles of the pub.
How did you first discover your love of cooking and when did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
I decided I wanted to be a chef from the age of seven. I loved helping my grandmother as she was always baking, or making jams and chutneys from the produce we picked from her garden.
How would you describe your approach to food and cooking?
I would describe it as homely, comfort food, with a modern twist. A lot of places I have worked in specialise in fine dining, which I love. At The Digger’s Rest we are a local village pub and good, honest, local food works well for us. We have a specials board where we can be a bit more adventurous.
Tell us about your background.
I started my professional catering career with a two-year course at Exeter College, while working in Michael Caines’ restaurant at Abode Exeter at the weekends. After leaving college, I worked there full-time, where I really got a feel of how a busy kitchen functions and worked my way up through the various sections.
I then moved to Shrewsbury where I worked as sous chef in two quality restaurants.
I returned to Exeter in 2006, when I started working at the Jack in the Green, Rockbeare, and stayed there for four years, before moving on to The Digger’s Rest.
How long have you been at The Digger’s Rest?
I joined the team in August 2010.
What are your favourite locally sourced ingredients and why?
There are so many to choose from – game birds from local shoots, pork from a mile up the road, fish from Exmouth five miles away, all of which are top-quality ingredients. This makes my job a lot easier in the way we serve them as we can let the quality of the dishes shine through.
What is your preferred ingredient in season now and how would you use it in your restaurant?
Using local pheasant, we serve the breast with fondant potato, chestnut purée, creamed Savoy cabbage, panchetta, parsnip and a whisky sauce. The pheasant legs we comfit to make a wonderful stew, served with root vegetables, spiced with cinnamon and orange, with light, crispy dumplings.
Who are your favourite local suppliers?
These three are within five miles of our doorstep: Kenniford Farm where we source pork, Richards for local fruit and vegetables, and Greendale Farm shop for fish and eggs.
Where do you like to eat in Devon?
I really enjoy Chi in Kenton, for my love of oriental food. Or for a special culinary experience, Gidleigh Park is exceptional.
Any tips for budding chefs?
Work in different kitchens on different sections, absorbing as much as you can because there are so many different ways of doing the same thing. You will find your own style as you learn.
Who is your Devon food hero and why?
Michael Caines is my food hero. He has shown us what a great county of producers we have here in Devon and how lucky we are to have them at our disposal.
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The SepOct issue of Taste Buds is out now