From gate to plate – chefs grow their own

More restaurants are getting in on the idea that when it comes to taste local is best. So, now they are producing their own meat and vegetables

It's an old gardeners' adage that nothing tastes as good as a home-grown vegetable. But that was before some of Britain's best restaurants started planting their own kitchen gardens to cash in on the soaring popularity of locally sourced food.

Chefs from London to Loch Voll are growing their own produce, from bumper crops of carrots to unusual herbs they find difficult to source. Some restaurants are rearing their own animals to give diners the ultimate gate-to-plate experience.

In France and the US the "locavore" movement is well established, and the idea is catching on at last in Britain's restaurants. Richard Harden, of Harden's London Restaurants guide, said: "We had lost our connection with food, so this is about trying to get closer to what we eat."

The award-winning chef Simon Rogan has run Howbarrow Organic Farm alongside his L'Enclume restaurant in Cartmel, Cumbria, since last year. He said: "The organic produce we serve now just costs us the price of the seed. For us it's a quality thing: we can pick things out of the ground when we want." Eventually he hopes to cut his "six-figure" annual vegetable bill down to zero.

Although chefs such as Mr Rogan, or the French culinary legend Alain Passard, whose farm in Brittany supplies his Parisian restaurant, L'Arpège, are at the radical end of the scale, even London-based chefs are sowing seeds where they can. Shane Osborn has planted a garden on the roof of his double Michelin-starred London restaurant, Pied à Terre. Nuno Mendes, the Portuguese El Bulli-trained chef, is picking his own herbs for his Viajante restaurant in east London, which opened this year.

They follow the likes of Oxfordshire's Raymond Blanc, who has served diners at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons vegetables grown in his two-acre kitchen garden for several years, and Nigel Haworth, whose celebrated Lancashire hotel and restaurant, Northcote Manor, was another early pioneer. Other restaurants that grow-their-own include the Nut Tree Inn, Oxfordshire, and Monachyle Mhor, on Loch Voll in Perthshire.

Restaurateurs who lack the space to get planting are finding other methods. Tony McKinlay, who owns the south London restaurant Platform, has gone into partnership with one of his suppliers, the Devon-based farmer Barnaby Butterfield. The pair are both shareholders in a company that runs a central kitchen where the animal carcases are butchered and prepped before being dished up at Platform. The aim is to use every bit of the animal.

"When we have cooked all the steaks we serve dishes made with [cuts such as] Jacob's ladder and brisket. For foodies, that's really interesting," Mr McKinlay said. Eventually he hopes to supply other food companies with some of the cuts that can't make their way on to his restaurant menu. However, he says, "in our high street location, I don't think enough customers are bothered about what we're doing. They might want a steak, but we'll only get 15 or so from a cow."

Richard Harden warned restaurants risked "tipping into parody" if they become "too self-congratulatory" about what they are doing. "There's not necessarily a link between all this foodie lovey-ness and producing a good dinner. It can end up putting people off," he said.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London