Upton Magna, Shrewsbury, UK – At a time when the region’s food industry is in the spotlight - following Heart of England Fine Foods (HEFF) announcement that it is to close - an award-winning Shropshire chef has highlighted the difficulty in easily sourcing locally-produced, high-quality ingredients for his restaurant and is calling for the region’s producers to make contact with him.
Martin Board, chef and owner of Basil’s Restaurant, the AA-Rosette establishment that has recently moved to the newly-renovated Upton Magna coaching inn, The Haughmond, said: “If you ask anyone about the availability of good-quality regional produce, they’re likely to have a perception that there’s an abundance of supply.”
“Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic, award-winning suppliers out there, but I’ve found it very difficult to easily get hold of the quality of locally-sourced ingredients that I’m looking for and all the wholesalers seem to supply food that’s been produced outside the county. I really want to keep things local – celebrating British cuisine.
“I’d dearly love to hear from anyone that can offer excellent produce and ingredients and I’m happy to build my menus around them – it’s that important to me.”
This ethos is demonstrated by the restaurant having established its own kitchen garden in the grounds of The Haughmond, where it is growing a variety of fresh ingredients, such as salad leaves, root vegetables, herbs and even rhubarb.
“Items like charcuterie and smoked produce would be great to have close to hand – but whilst running a busy restaurant, there’s just not the time available to spend hours researching and contacting all of the artisan producers – most of whom are as equally busy as me.” Martin continued.
“There’s definitely a need for a central organisation that can help draw all of these producers together and make it easy for kitchens to buy from a single source – which will be of great benefit to all and enable the county’s produce to reach many more consumers.
“There’s been a well-publicised food revolution in this country, but unfortunately the supply chain has failed to keep up. Consumers demand much-higher quality than in previous decades and they are more in tune as to issues such as food miles and local provenance – so we need to ensure that the excellence right here on our doorstep can reach customer’s plates.”