A Celebration of British Game, Devon Shellfish & Autumnal Vegetables

Chefs from across Devon and beyond gathered at foodservice leader, Dart Fresh in Exeter to celebrate a day of meeting the makers. Organised by The Chefs’ Forum, 50 chefs and a myriad of producers got together to enjoy a day of education and taste.

Five chefs graced the demo stage and cooked up a delightful medley of autumnal treats celebrating British Game Week and the wonderful season of autumn.

First up was Matt Mason of Winslade Manor who decided to celebrate the start of Great British Game Week with a beautiful dish of Curtis Pitts venison, parsnip puree, savoy cabbage & bacon, slow roasted celeriac and forest fungi hen of the woods mushrooms.  Matt cooked the wild venison loin to perfection and said

“As a chef, I want the ingredients that I buy throughout my career should set an example to young chefs coming through. Provenance is very important to me and I love the way that Curtis Pitts venison is truly traceable, down to the date and time and field in which it was harvested.  Curtis Pitts venison is the most popular option on our Elegant Dining menu and never fails to be consistently excellent in quality.”

All of the Dart Fresh customers who attended had the same thing to say about Dart Fresh…that the convenience of being able to order all of their produce in the one place, in the one order made life much easier for them, especially if the head chef is absent and has to leave the team to order in their place.

John Pritchard, Director at Dart Fresh prides himself on having created a one-stop-shop for chefs and puts a great deal of time and love into sourcing only the very best local suppliers in terms of traceability and high welfare from Devon’s bounty of wonderful, sustainable suppliers.

Next onto the stage was Ben Routley of The Farmers Arms in Combe Florey. His Beechridge Farm duck breast with gochujang aioli was well received by the audience.

“The duck from Beechridge was fantastic,” he said. “And it was great to be joined by Catherine Farinha on the stage. She’s so good at asking the right question at the right time. I enjoyed cooking in front of the other chefs and it was a great showcase of what we do at The Farmers Arms.”

Mike Logut of Foie Royale then took the opportunity to extend the celebration of duck in promoting his ethical alternative to Foie Gras.  Mike was sampling both the goose and duck versions of the product, service simply on toasted brioche rounds enabling the chefs to taste the quality of the product – Ideal for festive menus!

Following on from the duck demo, Chris Chatfield and Keenan Paver of Oddfellows restaurant made a lobster tart. But not before a brilliant demonstration of the Crustastun machine by Kat Cooper from Mitchell & Cooper.

“With the news that the government will be recommended to make inhumane killing of lobster illegal its time for the industry to get to know the Crustastun,” she said. “By using a solution of saline crabs and lobsters are stunned and killed within a couple of seconds and feel nothing.”

Chris Chatfield said: “The lobster was impressive and it was in perfect condition. The Crustastun definitely made a difference to the taste and texture of the lobster meat.”

Dan Brown of The Cotley Inn then cooked a delicious partridge dish. It was great to hear of Dan’s love of the land, woodland ingredients and appreciation for being fortunate enough to source the finest quality game from local shoots to compliment over 3,000 product lines available from Dart Fresh.

“I was very impressed with the day,” he said afterwards. “There was a good turnout, and it was a pleasure to work with such good ingredients. I really enjoyed it.”

Jade Shorney, Head Chef at The Rising Sun, West Bagborough gave a sweet finish to a day of excellent demos with a mouth-watering chocolate and ginger tart with syrup and roast pear.

Jade spoke of her pride in heading-up an all-female kitchen team and the importance of encouraging more girls into the industry where currently women make up only 17% of the UK chef sector.

A great day was had by all at what was the first gathering of Devon, Somerset and Dorset chefs since the start of the Pandemic.

It was lovely to see everyone together again and a great opportunity to celebrate fantastic seasonal produce and top-quality local suppliers.

To see the range of excellent local produce on offer at Dart Fresh and learn about its provenance visit: https://dartfresh.co.uk

Photography by Gareth Davies Media