Foraging has been popular for some years now, and professional chefs’ enthusiasm for gathering food from wild and natural places is only increasing. On Monday 13th March, over sixty top chefs from Kent and surrounds flocked to a fascinating forage led by wild food expert David Harrison.

The Beacon’s impressive thirteen acres were slightly moist from rainfall the day before, but that didn’t dampen chefs’ spirits as they braved the crisp spring air to embark 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.

Today’s event involved I’ll Be Mother Group Executive Chef Scott Goss.  Scott and his team cooked-up a fantastic BBQ with Synergy demo chef Claire Mansfield on the Synergy Grill.  The meaty feast was made up of Award-winning Walter Rose & Son Venison Loin, pork and chorizo sliders, venison sliders, venison sausage hot dogs and venison stew to feed the visiting chefs before they embarked on their forage.

Walter Rose Venison Loin on Synergy Grill Synergy Grill

The Santa Maria Spice Truck, complete with ‘Spice Nerds’ Katlin Ambos and Sam Guarino were at the event and chefs were invited to climb on board the truck and sign the wall/ceiling of fame! They learnt that ‘Size Matters’ and were shown the difference between herbs and spices they may already use versus the stunning Santa Maria range.Santa Maria Spice Talk

The Beacon, positioned on the brow of the hill overlooking the Spa Valley perfectly lent itself as the perfect venue for the cheffy wild food hunt. The impressive garden sits below the patio terrace, dropping away from the pub towards the valley with three refurbished ponds to be filled with trout next year.  The Beacon hopes to host weddings on an island in the middle of one of the largest pond which would be a great setting indeed for that special day!

Scott's Demo DishScott demoScott showcased his signature duck dish with crispy skin and duck soup served in the espuma gun.  The chefs really enjoyed the chance to get a snapshot of this popular chefs’ menu, who has, at some point or another worked with most of the chefs in the room.

Scott said

“I’m really lucky to have these beautiful grounds on my doorstep – I am truly spoilt for choice.  I thought the event today was brilliant and it’s great to be able to educate and enthuse fellow chefs on our philosophy on food: zero waste using the whole animal and use of as much kitchen waste as possible.  Foraging makes up a big part of my menu here at The Beacon– Most of our mornings are taken up with foraging and it’s great to learn of all the other species available here from David Harrison – We’ll definitely invite him back next season to show us more!”

ForagingThe culinary experts went on a tour of The Beacon’s impressive grounds, learning to find and identify the abundance of edible plants, seeds, nuts, flowers and fungi that grow wild in the beautiful Kentish countryside. They learnt that provided you are furnished with a permission from the land owner, 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.

Forager David Harrison told chefs:

“Once you pick something, it immediately starts to lose its peak flavour and texture. So we do not store for that reason; we forage every day.  It’s great to see so many chefs in attendance – I hope thDavid Harrison Foragerat foraging with the chefs today spikes and interest in foraging and encourages them to bring this old skill back into the kitchen” 

The event was a great chance for 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 concluded:

“The Beacon was the perfect venue to hold an unusual and absorbing day of grilling, spice and foraging.  It is great to see that the chefs are so keen on foraging and trying new cooking techniques with wild ingredients. Chefs’ Forum events provide a great opportunity for them all to meet up, touch base and share expertise and see the best products and produce available to them.”

The Chefs’ Forum launched in Kent in 2013 and has gone on to see many young chefs find work placements and apprenticeships in the best professional kitchens across the county and beyond!

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