Kent's food and drink heroes
Twelve outstanding and innovative food and drink champions were honoured with the county's 'food and drink Oscars' at the sixth Taste of Kent Awards, held at Leeds Castle's Fairfax Hall
Kent’s food and drink heroes
Twelve outstanding and innovative food and drink champions were honoured with the county’s ‘food and drink Oscars’ at the sixth Taste of Kent Awards, held at Leeds Castle’s Fairfax Hall
Best Kentish Wine
for Biddenden Ortega 2008
- 1 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 2 8 of the best places for a bluebell walk in Surrey
- 3 17 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 4 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 5 Win a short break in London at The Dilly on Piccadilly
- 6 19 great places to eat outdoors in Cheshire after lockdown
- 7 35 great Surrey pubs with beer gardens and terraces
- 8 7 magical bluebell walks in Devon
- 9 Bluebell walks in Suffolk: Beautiful spring woodlands to explore
- 10 Bluebell woods in Derbyshire: Top 5 places to go for woodland walks
Best Kentish Cider or Perry
for Biddenden Strong Kentish Cider
Kent Juice Producer of the Year
Moor Organic Juice
Best Kentish Beer
for Gadds’ No 3
Kent Food Producer of the Year
The Chai Stop, Ramsgate
Kent Local Food Retailer of the Year
Macknade Fine Foods, Faversham
Kent Butcher/Meat Producer of the Year
The Butcher of Brogdale, Faversham
Kent Food Product of the Year
The Cheesemakers of Canterbury
for Ashmore Cheese
Kent Farmers’ Market of the Year
Shipbourne Farmers’ Market
Kent Restaurant of the Year
The Mulberry Tree, Boughton Monchelsea
Kent Pub of the Year
The Haywain, Bramling, nr Canterbury
Kent’s Seafood Retailer of the Year
Eddie Gilbert’s Fishmonger, Ramsgate
Best Kentish Wine
Product: Biddenden Ortega 2008
Best Kentish Cider
Product: Biddenden Strong Kentish Cider
Owners: Julian and Sally Barnes
One of the outstanding high achievers was Biddenden Vineyards, which reached the general public’s shortlist for the third consecutive year and this time picked up not one, but two awards – for Best Wine and Best Cider.
The vineyards are set in 22 acres on a gentle south-facing slope in a sheltered valley, just outside the pretty Wealden village of Biddenden. Ten varieties of grapes are grown to produce white, red, ros� and sparkling wines, and traditional Kentish ciders have also been made here for more than 20 years, together with farm-pressed apple juices.
Scooping Best Kentish Wine 2009 with its already multi-award winning Biddenden Ortega 2008 was perhaps no huge surprise – it has received many honours over the years, including English wine of the year and England’s most outstanding wine from the 2008 harvest - but owner Julian Barnes was clearly over the moon.
“We would of course been delighted to have won one award, but to have picked up best cider and best wine left us thrilled, as these are both Biddenden’s lead products,” he told Kent Life – which sponsored the Best Kentish Wine category.
“Like most small producers, we work with good local ingredients to a high standard.
To maintain that standard involves a commitment and passion not only from ourselves, but also the members of staff who carry out their own individual parts in the process
“To try and maintain an edge, we have a strong commitment to communication and reliable distribution of our products, and our retail outlet at the vineyard in Biddenden gives us the customer feedback we need to maintain that quality.”
Biddenden Vineyard is Kent's oldest commercial vineyard, having been established by the Barnes family in 1969 after Julian’s parents decided 30 acres of apples would no longer be enough to maintain an income on a small farm, especially with the increasing competition from French apples, and that some sort of diversification was needed
“My mother was listening to BBC Women’s Hour and heard about people in Hampshire growing vines and producing wine, so the scene was set,” recalls Julian. “A trial planting was made and from then on the vineyard grew in size. However, we still needed to use the culled apples from the orchards that were still in production, so a pressing of apples at Bob Luck’s local cider works was the start of Biddenden cider and apple juice
Julian, who left school at 14, started work at the farm in 1975 at the age of 15, and was joined by his wife Sally 10 years later. The couple, who have three sons, now run Biddenden with 10 full-time staff and up to 30 part-timers, who help with guiding tours, food preparation, bottling, shop sales and exhibitions
They produce 50,000 bottles of wine, 400,000 litres of cider and contract bottle more than 500,000 bottles of apple juice, and welcome 30,000 visitors to the shop a year
So what lies ahead and how can they continue to improve? “It’s not about getting better; we need to maintain the brand and its unique availability to those people who want to purchase products outside the mainstream retail outlets,” says Julian.
“This means we need to concentrate on the principles of the product, using the ideals that have got us this far, only changing to new and more efficient processes when we know they can be incorporated to a benefit.
“A large part of running a firm like Biddenden is listening to why what we do works.”
Biddenden Vineyards Ltd
Gribble Bridge Lane
Kent Local Food Retailer of the Year Macknade Fine Foods, Faversham
Owner: Stephano Cuomo
Faversham proved a source of retailing excellence in the awards, with two winners from the area – and it was Macknade Fine Foods who picked up the prestigious Kent Local Food Retailer of the Year 2009.
Owner Stephano Cuomo told Kent Life: “This award means an awful lot to us. It came out of the blue, as we had not entered ourselves, so our customers had made the effort themselves to go online and vote. As a retailer, when you receive such spontaneous support, it is extremely humbling.
“I am also very proud of our staff, because the service and experience of the shop was highlighted. All our team work hard and enjoy what they do, and while I am able to source, taste and put products on the shelf, they are the ones who really connect with our customers and make us what it we are.”
Macknade Fine Foods is a family business in the truest sense and the shop is the evolution of generations of Kentish farmers. “The week before the awards, I came to have my morning espresso in our caf�, and sat there was my grandfather, my mother and my eldest niece,” smiles Stefano.
“It was fantastic to have four generations of the same family sat around the table in our family business, and for that I count myself blessed.”
Macknade Fine Foods was born the same year as Stefano, in 1979, when his father, Renato, took 20 acres of the family farm and began to grow what were then proper gastro-oddities such as mangetout, purple raspberries, courgettes with flowers, selling them from boxes under a tarpaulin.
People enjoyed the unusual produce and being able to buy them straight from the field and those initial customers turned into the loyal support that enabled the business to grow and relocate some 15 years later to its present site on the Selling Road, just outside Faversham.
The business has developed but still includes members of staff who have been on board for more than 20 years and there is now a team of 35, from weekend students saving for their driving lessons through to buyers, deli staff, floor staff and maintenance personnel, all playing an integral role within the business.
So how can Macknade keep on getting better? “By listening to our customers! It is very easy to come in through the back door, but then you never get the real customer experience,” says Stefano. “We are very lucky in that our customers have been with us for years and so have a personal investment in the shop, so if they feel we are not doing what we should, they are quick to let us know.
“As an independent retailer, it is always easier to invest in tangibles - new stock, a new fridge - but the real way to improve our service-driven shop is through investment in staff and knowing better the products we sell. A shop such as Macknade is simply a conduit between the land and the producer who cares for it and the final consumer.”
As for future plans, Stefano says: “We will look to make the structure of the shop as comfortable as possible for our customers, continue to source as much product direct from source and especially look at local versus national/international and the sustainable issues that involves.
“Sustainability is now a key element of business and we have become more and more aware of ways in which we can be as balanced as possible.”
Best Kentish Beer Ramsgate Brewery
Product: Gadds’ No 3
Owner: Eddie Gadd
Gadds’ No 3 from Ramsgate Brewery won Best Kentish Beer 2009 for the second consecutive year, an achievement made all the more impressive given that Ramsgate Brewery has now won a Taste of Kent Award for three consecutive years.
Owner Eddie Gadd told Kent Life: “It’s always great to win, especially when you really want it. We’re a small Kent business producing beer made from Kent-grown hops just for sale only within the county, so the Taste of Kent Awards are more relevant to us than any other competition (don’t tell anyone, but it’s the only award we really care about!).”
Eddie and his wife Lois started out brewing a few hundred litres a week in the back of a pub on Ramsgate seafront. Eddie had been made redundant from a multi-national brewing and retailing business and desperately wanted his own brewery.
“But it was slow progress,” he recalls. “The workspace was difficult and finding a bigger place that we could afford turned into a series of disasters and let downs. Eventually I’d had enough and we bought a small industrial unit, one that we couldn’t really afford. We managed to pay the first year’s bills, just, and then business started to take off.
“We had far more space and the beer quality improved immeasurably, boosting sales. Three years down the line and we employ a small gang of miscreants to help us brew several thousand litres a week. It’s hard work for all of us, but ultimately rewarding (‘beer o’clock’ is a much-looked forward to hour of the late afternoon), and good fun. We’re all Eastcliff Ramsgate (by adoption), except Hang ‘Em High Steve, who’s a fancy Westcliffer.”
Eddie has just completed commissioning a new (secondhand) brewery, in the same place as the old one. “It’s much bigger and much better, so I’m looking forward to taking beer quality to a new level: with larger batch sizes comes better control and consistency,” he says.
“For such an old industry, brewing is going through a stage of real revival and vibrancy, many of the smaller brewers have cracked the quality barrier and their beers just get tastier and more interesting. We have to keep up, to try and set the pace, so it’s difficult to know exactly what we’ll be doing this time next year. But it will be local, and it will be tasty.”
As for his future plans, Eddie says he has “no idea, business-wise”, but on a personal level, “spending more time with the family, taking proper holidays and pursuing my middle-aged footballing career are right at the top of the list.” Cheers to that, Eddie.
1, Hornet’s Close
Isle of Thanet
Kent Pub of the Year The Haywain, Bramling, nr Canterbury
Owners: Kevin and Louise Costello
Newcomer The Haywain in Bramling, near Canterbury picked up Kent Pub of the Year 2009 and owners Kevin and Louise Costello told Kent Life: “Winning came as a very nice surprise, as we were happy to reach the top three.
“It has made us believe that we are getting it right, there is a lot of work involved and sometimes if you are not busy, you think your doing something wrong. This is a reward for all our efforts and we are very proud.
“We run a traditional country pub with a warm and friendly atmosphere. You can come in and feel comfortable just having a drink, real ales being a speciality as we are in the Camra Good Beer Guide, and if you want to eat there's a good selection of meals, many home-made and using produce from the local butcher’s and farmshop, which we think is very important, and it is all reasonably priced.”
Four years ago the couple decided to have a change of career and, having always worked with the public and enjoyed entertaining, a pub seemed the obvious choice. Luckily, after quite a search, they found the Haywain in Bramling, just half an hour from where they lived.
“This is a beautiful part of Kent and it’s nice to see our friends and family, especially when we need a hand,” says Kevin. “Staff are very important to the business, they need to be efficient and sociable, we try to pick people who are going to enjoy it and fit in with the regular customers who support us and make the pub what it is. Many friends have been made here and hopefully we will gain a few more now.”
The couple intend to continue to hold annual events such as their beer festivals, talent show, paper aeroplane competition, party in the garden and special quizzes, which all raise money for the Pilgrim’s Hospice, the British Legion and Kent Air Ambulance.
“We have allowed the business to grow gradually through word of mouth in order to manage it ourselves, but as we plan to be here for many years it would be nice to eventually have more help in the kitchen,” says Kevin.
“We have always kept our overheads low in order to keep very competitive prices which is very important in the present climate. Hopefully, through winning this award the business will continue to grow steadily.”
Bramling, near Canterbury
Kent Juice Producer of the Year Moor Organic Juice, Teynham
Production manager: Richard Castle
Newcomer to the awards shortlist, Moor Organic Juice of Teynham, was thrilled to go straight to top when the company was selected the winner of ‘Kent Juice Producer of the Year 2009’.
“This is the first time we have entered the competition and we were up against many other well-established and respected Kentish juice producers,” says production manager Richard Castle.
Run by the Moor family at Nichol Farm Orchards, Moor Organic adjoins the land originally planted with apples, cherries and other fruits by the gardener to Henry VIII, one Richard Harris, in the 16th century. This was known as ‘The King’s Orchards situated in the village of Teynham for the enjoyment of King Henry.’
Today, the family business specialises in local farm-produced, organic, single-variety apple juice and pear juices produced from fruit picked at its own farm orchards. Within 48 hours of picking, the juice is extracted in a state-of-the-art pressing and bottling plant at the farm, to ensure maximum flavour from the tree-ripe fruit. The organic apple juice and pear juice is then bottled, labelled and packed.
“We invested in a production unit here six years ago and began making juice from our own organic fruit on a small scale. We were starting completely from scratch and realised that if we were going to stand out from the crowd, we had to make our juice as delicious as possible, as well as giving the best service we could to our customers. “Production was just a few weeks in a year in those days, but since then our juice has proved so popular that our turnover and production has doubled every year since,” says Richard.
He adds: “We have always taken pride in our juice production, ensuring only the finest home-grown fruit gets pressed and bottled at Nichol Farm. Our team of six full-time staff work with nothing but care, dedication and skill, and must share the credit for our success.
So can the best keep on getting better? “We are just about to launch an updated website which will offer an online shop with the Moors and Kings Orchard ranges now available as well as the Moor Organic Juice range previously available.”
And those customers who would rather choose their juice and take it home with them will soon be able to take advantage of a ‘real’ shop the business aims to open at the site this spring, along with open days being organised for people wishing to watch the process in person, and taste all the juices while they’re there, so they can see for themselves how Moor Organic earned itsur reputation as Kent Juice Producer of the Year.
Kent Restaurant of the Year The Mulberry Tree, Boughton Monchelsea
Owner: Karen Williams
The Mulberry Tree was also celebrating on the night with its second consecutive accolade of Kent Restaurant of the Year – and owner Karen Williams was thrilled at the news. “It feels absolutely fantastic, especially as it’s the second year on the trot we have won!
“I think we have the edge for two main reasons - as an owner, I am involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurant and ensure there is attention to detail with a warm and friendly welcome. Secondly, Alan Irwin is an exceptionally talented chef and uses as much local, seasonal produce as is practically possible.
“I have been in the hospitality industry for 20 years now, starting with a wine bar in Surrey, moving on to a pub restaurant in north Essex, a country house hotel in the Cotswolds and finally moving back to my roots in Kent at The Mulberry Tree, where I intend to stay.
“We are a family run business, with both my mother and daughter working in the restaurant. The kitchen is headed by Alan Irwin and both he and I are extremely passionate about The Mulberry Tree and establishing it on the culinary map of Kent.
“We have evolved and changed so much in the three years we have been here and as we have from day one, will continue to move the goalposts so that we constantly improve our product and offering. Although in the last year we have enjoyed great success, we will never become complacent and always look for ways to ‘tweak’ and improve what we do.
Karen is busy developing an area of the field to rear turkeys this year for Christmas - they will arrive in July and be on the menu during December. She currently has 10 Kentish Middle White pigs and plans to have another 18 once the weather improves and new fencing can be put up.
There are also plans to extend the private dining room so that it seats approximately 24, rather than the current 12, and this will incorporate a chef’s table.
The Mulberry Tree
Kent Food Product of the Year The Cheesemakers of Canterbury
Product: Ashmore Cheese
Owner: Jane Bowyer
Kent’s cheese-making heritage is firmly established in the county and newcomer to the awards, The Cheesemakers of Canterbury, was thrilled to pick up the hotly contested Kent Food Product of the Year 2009 for its multi-award winning Ashmore cheese that has already won British and World Cheese Awards during 2009.
“It is absolutely amazing to be a winner of the Taste of Kent awards after such a short time in cheesemaking,” says Jane Bowyer. “We have been very fortunate that Ashmore Cheese has been so well received in Kent and its popularity has now been reflected in this award. A mature, traditionally hand-made cheese produced in Kent from local milk by local people gives Ashmore the edge over other cheeses.”
Previously processing milk, cream and butter, Jane had more than 20 years experience in the dairy trade, retailing as Dargate Dairy, but sold the business in May 2006. At around the same time, a cheesemaking couple in Wiltshire were looking to retire and so the Ashmore recipe and all their cheesemaking equipment were bought, the old dairy completely refurbished and production began in May 2007.
“Six months later, after many sleepless nights disappearing into the maturing room at all hours to tend to the cheeses, the first batches of Ashmore Farmhouse were released for sale at the local markets” says Jane.
“Throughout the years, we have been well supported by local delis, farm shops and restaurants who have all been fervent in their promotion of our products. We were also thrilled to be awarded a Bronze Medal in the British Cheese Awards in 2008 and a Silver in the World Cheese Awards later in the same year.
“The cheesemaking process is very intensive and a team of three cheesemakers use traditional methods to make all the cheeses by hand from fresh local British Friesian cow’s milk collected from Debden Farm near Canterbury every morning.”
Ashmore Farmhouse is an unpasteurised vegetarian hard farmhouse cheese with nutty, earthy overtones and a creamy texture. Good in cooking, it also sits well on a cheeseboard and is very popular at events when sold alongside local beers and apple juices.
Some of the cheeses are smoked locally over oak chippings to produce Ashmore Smoked and the recently developed Ashmore with Mustard combines the taste of the cheese with thin layers of wholegrain mustard.
In response to customer demand, The Cheesemakers of Canterbury developed its own hard goat’s cheese based on the Ashmore recipe and in 2008, Kelly’s Canterbury Goat won a Gold Medal at the British Cheese Awards.
Made from local goat’s milk from Ellie’s Dairy in Wychling and the Zeila herd near Margate, this cheese is matured for about three months to produce an extremely creamy and tasty hard goat’s cheese that has proved to be very popular.
“All the cheesemakers involved have been very supportive and have contributed a great deal to the success of Ashmore by cheesemaking during the week and then giving up their weekends to help promote the products at events and Farmers’ Markets throughout the year,” adds Jane.
“We strive to maintain the highest quality in all our cheeses and through listening to our customers, we get ideas for innovative new products.”
The Cheesemakers of Canterbury have also just taken on new premises where a range of soft cheeses will be made. Look out for Kentish Brie, Camembert, Blue and a range of new goat’s cheeses.
The Cheesemakers of Canterbury
Kent Food Producer of the Year The Chai Stop, Ramsgate
Owners: Tina Cesbron and Isobel Moore
Ramsgate had double cause for celebration as, alongside its brewery, The Chai Stop was voted Kent Food Producer of the Year 2009 for its locally produced and retailed home-made Indian food.
Owner Tina Cesbron told Kent Life: “We had no idea how good it would feel to win this award and haven’t been able to stop smiling since! It’s so deeply satisfying and such a confidence boost. We’ve been doing this for a long time now and put in a lot of hard work. It’s been a real journey of ups and downs, like all small businesses, and for all this to be recognised by this fabulous award is the icing on the cake.”
The business actually started in a van 21 years ago – ladling-out platefuls of steaming home-made curries to hungry students at Kent University. Tina takes up the tale. “However, with small children to look after and a van that kept breaking down, it all got a bit much and we decided to throw in the towel. That might have been the end of it, but for a couple of mums at the school gate asking us to stock-up their freezers with our curries – so we were back in business!”
The Chai Stop came into being in 1999 when Tina and Isobel went into partnership, cooking at Isobel’s house in Whitstable. Business went from strength to strength, eventually outgrowing Isobel’s kitchen – so the hunt began for bigger premises.
“A chance encounter led us to Ebbsfleet Farm, where we were able to design and install our own kitchen in the original dairy. We are now a team of five and will soon be training a sixth in the art of cooking curry. It’s thanks to all us working together with such enthusiasm that we have this award,” says Tina.
“I am often asked ‘how come two English ladies started an Indian curry business?’ and on this front we’ve been gratified by the response of our Indian customers, telling us it’s just like their mum’s cooking and asking us to cater for their special occasions – what an honour!”
Tina was brought up in the family catering business and after extensive travels to India, came back inspired by the sheer colour, vibrancy and variety of India that transcends into its food - and was fortunate to have invaluable lessons from a master in Indian cookery.
Isobel’s father was brought up in India, spending the first few years in an orphanage. His mother trained as a cook and went on to be the head cook at the boarding school he attended just to be close to him. Isobel has acquired a treasured hand-written book of recipes from this time.
The two firmly believe that the integrity that comes from years of experience, trying and testing recipes, listening to customers – many of whom have been with them for 12 years or more – gives them the edge.
“All this comes from an honest love of cooking and a passion for naturally grown local produce which we’re lucky enough to be able to source ourselves in this Garden of England,” says Tina.
“We both share a long-standing interest in holistic health, from the ayurvedic properties of herbs and spices to the obvious benefits of organic vegetables and outdoor-reared meat – complimenting what we do at The Chai Stop.
“We intend to improve by bringing new recipes to our menu, even some sweet ones, as well as refining our packaging and website, and to continue growing step-by-step, ensuring we retain the very essence of the Chai Stop –genuine, hand-made authentic curries, cooked in small batches to ensure the finest quality. And maybe there’ll even be a Chai Stop caf�...”.
The Chai Stop
Kent’s Seafood Retailer of the Year Eddie Gilbert’s Fishmonger, Ramsgate
Owner: Jonny Dunhill
Kent’s reputation as the Garden of England may be well known, but the Taste of Kent Awards has significantly raised awareness of the county’s coastline and its many outstanding fish markets and fishmongers. One such fine example was Eddie Gilbert’s Fishmonger of Ramsgate, which picked up Kent’s Seafood Retailer of the Year award, the business’s second accolade in three years.
Owner Jonny Dunhill told Kent Life: “It is just great to win the award for a second time. It shows that the shop is much appreciated in the community, which in itself is very satisfying and makes all the challenges involved in being a small independent retailer worthwhile.
“I have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of several accolades in recent months, including ‘best newcomer’ in the Kent restaurant awards for the restaurant, which is exceeding all expectations and has been so much fun to get up and running.
A quality restaurant and the gourmet fish and chips have also proved to be a much-needed asset to Ramsgate life.”
Jonny adds: “Produced in Kent genuinely do a fine job in promoting and actively helping their members, which, speaking for the members I know, is hugely valued. Independent food retailers are such an asset to communities, and Produced in Kent fully understand this and work hard to support and encourage us.
“A big reason for choosing to start a business such as Eddie Gilberts, with all its different aspects, was the initial awareness of what I like to see and experience while shopping for food, buying fish and chips or eating out. All too often the experience is let down by details; while overall you may leave with what you came for, a professional retailer needs to ensure customers are left with a feeling of being truly valued. This is what makes a visit, however mundane the purpose, memorable. I work to ensure the staff are skilled in this department.”
Jonny’s background in the food industry includes 12 years as owner of a shellfish wholesaling operation, supplying the best London restaurants and hotels with oysters, scallops, crab and selected shellfish. During this period, he worked with chefs and restaurateurs, many of whom have gone on to become household names.
“I was inspired by their skills and intrigued by the theatre of the restaurant business,” he says. “On moving to the coast, I was drawn to the activities of the fishermen, leading, gradually but seemlingly inevitably, to where I am now: an award-winning fishmonger, restaurant and an outstanding gourmet fish and chips shop.
“I am building on the success of Eddie Gilberts and gradually improving where I can. I have generated plenty of publicity so far and in the future would like to build on the achievements. It is never a good idea to stand still in business, so look out for an Eddie Gilberts opening in a town near you soon!”
Eddie Gilbert’s Fishmonger
32 King Street
Kent Farmers’ Market of the Year Shipbourne Farmers’ Market
Market manager: Bob Taylor
Shipbourne Farmers’ Market proved another high achiever, being awarded the Kent Farmers’ Market of the Year award for the second time, having made the Taste of Kent Awards’ shortlist four times previously.
“We are very proud that our weekly Farmers’ Market has been chosen as the Best in Kent, especially as the main reason given was the overall shopping experience,” Market manager Bob Taylor told Kent Life.
“What makes it even more pleasing was that our Mystery Shopper must have visited us during the time when the weather conditions meant it was a major struggle for stallholders and helpers to keep the market operational!”
Shipbourne is a tiny village on the outskirts of Tonbridge with a total population of less than 400. The Farmers’ Market was started six years ago by the-then Rector to create a centre for the local community and the actual market is held, unusually, both within and outside the parish church. It pays no money to St Giles, but donates its profits to agricultural charities in the UK and Africa.
Entirely run by a dedicated band of volunteers, the Market also counts itself “very fortunate” in having a most understanding neighbour, The Chaser Inn, which now offers a ‘Farmers’ Market Breakfast’ that’s become an attraction in its own right
“Our objective is to have sufficient variety of local produce available throughout the year so that a visit to our Market becomes the main weekly shop,” adds Bob. “But it is the quality of the produce, value for money and friendliness offered by our 20-odd producers and stallholders that gives Shipbourne that ‘overall shopping experience.’
“We are continually investigating ways of improving that shopping experience and have started to use market research techniques to find out more about our customers and their needs. We recently conducted a Market health check (sponsored by Making Local Food Work), which is helping us determine our future priorities.
“Just like any retail outlet, we need to continually attract more customers, so consequently, we plan to make their visit more interesting by running seasonal events. Our producers only have two hours every Thursday in which to sell their produce. This means that a proportion of our local community doesn’t have the opportunity to buy good quality, local grown/reared/made produce.
“We are investigating ways and means of bridging this gap. All market transactions are cash based, which puts us at a disadvantage against all our high street competitors, but we have some interesting ideas as to how we can overcome this……. watch this space!!”
�– Shipbourne Farmers’ Market takes place at St Giles' Church, Stumble Hill, Shipbourne TN11 9PF every Thursday from 9am-11am.
Shipbourne Farmers’ Market
Every Thu, 9am-11am
St. Giles’ Church
Kent Butcher/Meat Producer of the Year The Butcher of Brogdale, Faversham
Owners: Nicky O’Sullivan and Lee Moore
Another Faversham winner was The Butcher of Brogdale, which scooped Kent Butcher/Meat Producer of the Year 2009. Owners Nicky O’Sullivan and Lee Moore could not be more delighted.
“It was such a great feeling to know that all the hard work of the last two years had been worth it,” says Nicky. “As a team, we have put in so much effort into creating something unique.
“Each customer is treated as a friend and time is always made for a chat and a laugh and we feel that taking things back to a personal service both in the shop and also to our many caterers is the reason people voted for us.”
The Butcher of Brogdale was launched on Valentine’s Day 2008 after many months of searching for an appropriate site to offer people a true taste of Kentish meats, explains Nicky. Bespoke built for their requirements and offering a bright and welcoming environment for shopping, when it first opened there was just Lee, Nicky and one butcher, but over the past two years trade has grown so much that five skilled butchers are now employed.
“We feel that we can carry on improving on our success by offering customers the best quality local meat that we can source and encouraging more farmers and smallholdings to contact us so that we can build on our list of local suppliers,” adds Nicky.
“We are always moving things forward at Brogdale and have started a Butchery School, which has so far been very successful. We also have the pig farm on site with our own Mangalitsas (the extraordinary woolly Hungarian pigs we featured in January Kent Life, page 103) which we are hoping to breed, as these are our pets. It is lovely for the customers and children to visit them, we feel it enhances the whole ethos of The Butcher of Brogdale.
“We are also opening Brogdale Cottage Foods on site, a fabulous hand-designed and built shop which will house the delicatessen and also offer cakes, sweets, bread, milk, preserves, biscuits, flour and many other locally sourced products; it will be an exciting new venture.
“And we are looking for another site to replicate the success at Brogdale, we have alot of customers who travel many miles to purchase their meat and it would be nice to supply many more customers all over Kent,” adds Nicky.
The Butcher of Brogdale
Love Food Hate Waste Award Taywell Farm Stores
Owner: Alastair Jessel
Taywell Farm Stores in Goudhurst and Tunbridge Wells and producer of Taywell ice cream was the inaugural winners of the new Love Food Hate Waste Award. The judging panel was impressed with Taywell’s approach to maximising the life of its stock. Fruit and vegetables that were in date, but past their peak, were recycled back into the business via the new Shake & Juice Bar in Tunbridge Wells, or pur�ed and frozen to be used within Taywell’s ice creams.
The business also found an innovative use for unsold bread, freezing it and creating a new brown bread ice cream flavour. As well as Taywell’s positive contribution to reducing landfill and protecting the environment, the business reduced its waste disposal costs by �2,000 per annum.
Owner Alastair Jessel, who only opened his new farm store in Tunbridge Wells at the beginning of the year, told Kent Life: “The strange thing is doing the job in hand without considering entering a competition and ignoring the requests to enter, thinking that what we do is nothing special and surely everyone else is doing the same thing?
“We believe that we gain an edge by our commitment. It is not possible to do something half-heartedly and think that is good enough; what is good for the environment makes commercial sense as well and for us, they go hand in hand.”
Alastair left Dubai in 2005, returning to England from his previous company, Stonell, a commercial flooring and walling contractor laying marble and granite in shopping centres and hotels.
“My farm tenant had fled and left me holding a fruit farm in Goudhurst as landlord that nobody wanted to lease – what else could I do other than try to turn it around?” he says. “I didn’t have another job then, so I thought I should give farming a go while I waited for something else to turn up: and I’m still here five years later.
“I decided to invest in the farm and plant up crops that were large enough for a farm shop but not a supermarket. I obtained planning permission to build my own farm shop and then realised that I had no idea what to do with the waste fruit that didn’t sell. This idea was solved by a moment of madness when I thought ‘why not make ice cream out of it?’ and so Taywell Ice Creams evolved out of the word ‘waste’.”
Both Taywell Farm Shop and Taywell Ice Creams started in summer 2006 and with the new shop in Tunbridge Wells High Street, the combined business now employs some 15 full time and 14 part-time employees. It was the large amount of waste coming out of Tunbridge Wells that made Alastair obtain a Waste Licence to transport waste and compost it properly from both shops.
“We will get better by turning most of our waste, including bread, into other consumables rather than composting it. Unsold broccoli needs to be made into soup for example, but we have melted down our unsold Christmas chocolate into cakes and biscuits, so where there is a will, there is a way.
“I want more people to experience the joys of eating our ice cream and having it as a milkshake from our shop in Tunbridge Wells. Our tired carrots get juiced and so do our apples and they taste just the same as perfect ones, but we offer so much local produce to consume in the shop that I long for more low-food miles enthusiasts to come and sample the delights of Kent and Sussex food in Tunbridge Wells!”
Taywell Farm Produce Store and Shake & Juice Bar
12-14 High Street
Tunbridge Wells TN1 1UX
Taywell Farm Shop
Goudhurst TN17 1DY
With thanks to the sponsors The Taste of Kent Awards were made possible by the generosity of the overall sponsor Whitehead Monckton, and via the support of the individual category sponsors, who included Kent Life, Barclays Bank Plc, Biddenden Vineyards, Cask Marque, Hadlow College, Kent County Council, kent frozen foods, Opies, SEEDA, Visit Kent and WK Finn-Kelcey.