Top Kent Chefs Enjoy a Sunny Vineyard Forage with Chef, Charlie Lakin and Forager, David Harrison!

Top chefs from across Kent flocked to a sunny vineyard in ‘The Garden of England’ owned by The Marquis at Alkham (near Dover) for an afternoon of foraging wild food. Students from East Kent College helped cater and serve culinary experts and future employers at the event to showcase their impressive skills!

 Photography: Manu Polomeque

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum stated,  “The Chefs’ Forum serves to bridge the gap between education and industry, facilitates communication between top chefs and encourages them to share knowledge and best practice with each other and the next generation of young hospitality professionals.  More chefs should forage as it makes for truly seasonal and locally-sourced menus – These natural ingredients are both very tasty and completely free!”

 Expert forager, David Harrison led the chefs and hospitality students on an inspirational tour of the wine-producing meadow and hedgerows to discover a bounty of flora and fauna that can be incorporated into fine cuisine menus including the common acorn!

Many edible species were found including Chickweed, Dandelion, Bramble bud tips, Silver weed, Ladies smock, Common Sorrel, Ground Ivy, Hawthorne berries, Chervil, Greater & Ribwort plantains, Redshank, Bittercress, Nettles and Yarrow. David also pointed out wild cherry trees to Charlie Lakin for next year’s harvest.

David commented,“As exclusive forager to Torquay-based Michelin-starred Chef Simon Hulstone, I really enjoyed visiting virgin territory in Kent and teaching the local chefs about various species and their appearance.  It was also great to see and hear how Charlie Lakin incorporates them into his menus!”

Head Chef at the Marquis,  BBC2’s Great British Menu Chef, Charlie Lakin and his brigade of young chefs produced fabulous canapés showcasing foraged ingredients including pickled Alexander seeds, wild fennel flowers and Douglas fir.  The team assisted by College students  laid-on an impressive barbeque for their peers using local produce, championing snails and quails!

Charlie commented, “I forage for my menu on a daily basis. Having David visit the vineyard was extremely useful and we will be up there next week picking all of the new discoveries for our menu at The Marquis at Alkham. David spotted things that I have missed due to targeting specific ingredients so it was great to have a fresh pair of eyes on our usual foraging patch”

VRQ Students, Stevie Janisch, Ryan Stanley and Michael Coombs (East Kent College) really enjoyed the day and ‘wowed’ a tough audience of industry experts with their flawless service, Stevie said:

“It was an amazing experience at The Chefs’ Forum today in Dover and we got to meet some great chefs – I especially enjoyed a the cookery demonstrations by Alan Pickett (Plateau Restaurant) and Charlie Lakin”

Stevie has already received an of work as a result of yesterday’s  Chefs’ Forum event – This is great news for all of us. Her lecturer Rob Alsworth said that she puts herself forward for high-profile industry events as she sees the benefit to her future career.  As the age of just 17, Stevie has also worked at events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Queen’s Garter.  She has also worked for HRH Prince Micheal of Kent at Brands Hatch.

The Chefs’ Forum will continue to organise quarterly chef events across Kent and bolster the relationship between Colleges and leading professional kitchens.