Devon Chefs Enjoyed a Fantastic Forage at Lewtrenchard Manor!
On Monday 21st January, top Devon chefs and students from South Devon College attended a fascinating forage at Lewtrenchard Manor (Lewdown) led by wild food expert David Harrison. Foraging has been popular with chefs for some years now, and enthusiasm for gathering food from wild and natural places is only increasing.
On a sunny (but fresh) January afternoon, Lewtrenchard’s impressive grounds felt slightly chilly, but that didn’t dampen chefs’ spirits as they embarked on a flora and fauna adventure. Harrison is Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone’s personal forager and sources wild ingredients exclusively for Simon and his small team of talented chefs at The Elephant, Torquay. The Chefs’ Forum called upon David’s expertise for the day, providing a fantastic opportunity for Devon’s chef scene to learn more about foraging with a view to foraging for their own menus.
Lewtrenchard, a luxurious Jacobean manor near Okehampton lent itself as the perfect venue for a cheffy wild food hunt!
Chefs’ Forum sponsors Total Produce, Ritter Courivaud, Two Brothers Food and Foie Royale kindly supplied all of the ingredients for stunning canapés and captivating cookery demos.
Lewtrenchard’s Head Chef Tom Browning showcased his menu in preparing stunning canapés for around forty of his peers from across the county. The chefs really enjoyed the chance to get a snapshot of fellow chefs’ menus. Tom also gave some fantastic cookery demonstrations showcasing season game meat in Mallard and Venison supplied by A Taste of Game. Butcher Gavin Roberts of Two Brothers Foods talked about responsible sourcing of game meat and his life-long membership with BASC – The British Association of Shooting and Conservation. Gavin talked the chefs through the most humane way to shoot deer and which species are available throughout the year.
Host Chef Tom Browning commented:
“I draw my recipe inspiration form my peers on a continual basis through fantastic ideas and images shared on social media. Having so many attend this event toady is proof that we also enjoy getting together and comparing notes. I have been really impressed with the students from South Devon College in the kitchen with me today. These events keep us all talking to each other and help us to keep our finger on the industry pulse. I am delighted to share knowledge and experience that I have gained throughout my career as are all of the chefs who attend Chefs’ Forum events.”
Next on the agenda was a fascinating presentation by Mike Logut on his new product Foie Royale, an ethical substitute for foie gras. Mike explained how the geese are killed for their meat and the livers specially processed to mimic the flavour and texture of foie gras without the cruelty exercised in more traditional methods of foie gras production. Tom showcased the Foie Royale in delicious canapés and the chefs were very impressed indeed.
The chefs were then treated to a wild boar and grouse haute dog, cooked by development chef Claire Mansfield on the energy-saving Synergy Grill before embarking on a tour of Lewtrenchard’s impressive grounds, learning to find and identify the abundance of edible plants, seeds, nuts, flowers and fungi that grow wild in the beautiful Devon countryside. They learnt that provided you are furnished with a permission from the land owner (in this case the Murray family), the only real cost of foraging is time, a valuable resource for chefs. Most foraged produce is perishable and requires picking for service daily or every other day.
It is the expert cookery demonstrations, engaging talks and fantastic foraging activities like these at Chefs’ Forum events that make for constant updating of skills and expansion of culinary skill sets.
The event was a great chance for Devon chefs to learn about foraging for their menus and the copious amount of amazing wild ingredients growing all around them.
Catherine Farinha, Chefs’ Forum Founder and event organiser stated:
Lewtrenchard Manor was the perfect venue to hold an unusual and absorbing day of game cookery demonstrations, foraging and a winter BBQ showcasing the Synergy Grill. It is the fourth industry event we have held here and we just love it! It is great to see that the chefs are so keen to try new cooking techniques and Chefs’ Forum events provide a great opportunity for them all to meet up to share expertise.
The Chefs’ Forum launched in Devon in 2012 and has gone on to see many young chefs find work placements and apprenticeships in the best professional kitchens in the county.
Photography by: www.jamesaphotography.co.uk