Episode 106 Hugh Lambert
Shanty Seaweed Botanical Vodka

For over 20 years, Hugh Lambert travelled the world as a TV cameraman, director of photography and editor. Often he’d find himself in some of the remotest parts of the world, perhaps living with a local tribe. On each trip he’d try different foods.  Some of them were quite out there, in terms of taste combinations and ingredients. (I’ll let Hugh reveal what the roasted figs he ate one day in the jungle really were.)  

With that broad-minded approach, it isn’t surprising that Hugh has created a drink with unusual ingredients: Shanty Spirit, a seaweed botanical vodka. 

This isn’t a gimmick. As youll hear, Hugh falls into my beloved category of brilliant – and possibly slightly bonkers – obsessive. Someone who describes his spirit as ‘4 years of research driven by a lifetime’s passion for being by the sea’. They really were years of intense focus: macerating countless seaweeds, then working through a long list of botanicals until he got to a point where he could collaborate with a distillery and see his idea bottled up. 

As you know, if you’ve listened to Vince Noyce at Portsmouth Distillery and Alex Kammerling at Kamm & Sons, I love these stories of dedication – particularly when they bring something new and authentically different to the market. 

Hugh’s venture is still young, but, when it comes to his future success, I’m excited to say that you will have heard it here first, on this podcast.  

Follow Hugh on Twitter or Instagram or order a bottle via his Website.

Episode 105 Gary Jones
Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

I think most people with a keen interest in incredible food and hospitality are aware of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir and its reputation.  They’ve churned out over 30 michelin starred chefs, had two Michelin stars themselves since 1981 and their organic certified kitchen gardens are legendary.  I was very excited to finally get to go and visit.  Helped by a sunny day the hotel and grounds looked stunning.  Executive Chef ‘Gary Jones’ was generous with his time, chatting freely and took the time to take me on a tour of the gardens and poly tunnels where his enthusiasm and knowledge and happiness to share his thoughts and experiences typified the generosity of so many who work in hospitality. 

Gary has had a fascinating history, from working at Le Manoir on two separate occasions, most recently for 21 years, to working for Richard Branson on Necker Island and having received Michelin Star accolades from scratch at two other venues.  He’s also a black belt in karate, practises yoga and is a busy Dad to 3 teenage daughters.  

Our chat meanders from Gary’s own kitchen garden hunting snails by torch light at 1am, to the symbiotic relationship with his team and the garden team at le Manoir, to the change in diets and using less butter and cream in the kitchens, a great story about how Gary ended up working on Necker Island and even the ‘genius’ of Raymond Blanc, or RB as he’s known, and the contrasting skills they both bring to the kitchen and development of so many of the world’s best chefs.

Follow Gary on twitter or instagram

Follow Le Manoir on twitter or instagram or via the website

Episode 104 Ellen Streatfield
Denhay Bacon

Back to learning this week as we are off to discover the wonderful world of bacon production from someone whose family have been producing it since the early 1990’s.

Whether you eat meat or not, there is something about bacon. Perhaps it’s the smell as it cooks, or the fact that it’s an integral part of the full English. But has our long-term familiarity of this staple grown a bit of contempt? 

Sausages seem to have a higher status: more and more breakfast menus  mention the provenance of their Cumberland and chipolatas.  But all too often, bacon is just categorised as ‘bacon’, so you have no idea where it’s come from, how it’s been produced and whether or not it’s been plumped up with salt and water. 

Then there are concerns around nitrites, with the NHS reminding us that ‘eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of colorectal cancer’ and the market is currently being disrupted by a nitrite-free newcomer. 

Ellen Streatfeild is well aware of how bacon falls in and out of favour.  Since 1994 her family’s farm has stuck to their principles of giving bacon the care and attention it deserves, whilst growing their  weekly production from 50-100 kg to 10 to 12 tonnes!

This programme explores how you find the sweet spot between maintaining your standards and surviving commercially, in the face of some very tough competition. 

Find out more about Denhay via the website or follow them on twitter 

Episode 103 Simon Potts, Managing Director The Alchemist

I wanted to chat to Simon because the Alchemist has such an exceptional reputation and I wanted to find out more about what makes them and Simon tick, but also because with 20 cocktail bars and restaurants dotted around the UK I knew he would be a good barometer of what is happening in different geographical pockets.

We touch a little bit on lockdown and the subsequent closure of one of their venues, we discuss some of the fast tracking of initiatives, particularly around technology such as ordering at the table and the nuances of wether that should be app or web based and how it integrates with existing tech.

We touch on some of the design elements of their venues since I’m always personally fascinated by spaces that can transition from breakfast to lunch to dinner and then late evening drinkers. It’s a tough art to get right and Simon explains how much work they put into things such as natural light and street level entrances to try and get this right.

With so many landlords Simon also has some useful perspectives on the shared burden of the accrued rental overhead that so many operators now need to either pay, or negotiate fast.

Episode 102 – Ben Tish
Culinary Director Norma & Stafford

Although originally from Skegness, Ben is more captivated with Sicily and one day would like to move there.  Sicily has had a huge influence on his favourite style of food and he’s even written an awesome book called ‘moorish’.

Ben is actually only a chef because of fellow Skegness buddy Jason Atherton who got Ben his first chef job at the Ritz.

We touch on Ben’s time at the Salt Yard and how a big influx of cash that he hoped would sort out his financial and restaurant dreams ended up ruining his love for the business and lead to him planning on heading out on his own.  

But now he’s found the best of both worlds.  A good level of investment and the chance to open restaurants serving his style of food.  Including his latest venture into the world of dark kitchens and delivery through Gallio, a Mediterranean pizza idea he’s been working on.

Follow Ben on Instagram or Twitter and check our his restaurant Norma