How long has Riverford Field Kitchen been running?
We will be 10 later this year! To launch our tenth year we are planning all sorts of new projects: our new training and development polytunnel based in the cardoon fields, alfresco meals around the farm, different styles of dining, cooking classes, meet the suppliers suppers…
Fifteen years ago, Guy was inspired by Alice Walters from Chez Panisse in California and hatched the plan to do the same here in Devon, linking the food he grows with serving it straight to customers in a family-style feast.
I had already opened my organic pub in London after being inspired by the birth of the gastro pub. I wanted to prove that delicious food and drink could be simple, seasonal and ethically sourced at a time when the restaurant industry was selling itself on exotic ingredients with little taste.
Local produce to eat now?
We are heading into the abundant period. All the beans and peas, soft fruits and top fruits, vine fruits, lettuces, aubergines… after the long months of spring, when the winter crops have been used up and the spring crops waiting to grow. It’s a very exciting time in the kitchen and the veg boxes.
Sum up your cooking style in three words.
Veg is the star, delicious and seasonal.
Must-try dish on your menu?
You will be eating the finest vegetable dishes around, served with a hearty organic meat dish. Kimchi is on our menu a lot at the moment; James Dodd, our Head Chef, and the team have been inspired by this Korean trend. We are not into food trends generally, but sometimes one really hits the spot. Our menu changes daily according to what is in the fields and the barns, so we can’t tell you what’s coming up.
Do you prefer to eat in or out?
Guy is a fantastic cook, so we eat mostly at home. But we are lucky enough to eat out in London and Devon often. Curators in Totnes is a favourite at the moment. But honestly, we love eating in our restaurants, the Field Kitchen and Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge, best!
Savoury or sweet?
Savoury and preferably bitter! We fell in love in Guy’s radicchio field after bonding over our adoration of the bitter leaf. Wild dandelion when radicchio is unavailable will hit the bitter spot. It grows through most of the winter and spring. Chilli usually makes it way into most of our dishes too.
Top tip for budding chefs?
Work with seasonal, field-grown vegetables. They will always taste better. Start with the raw ingredients. Let them talk to you and work from there.