Episode 63 Mark Rogers
Twinways Orchard and Bees

I’ve waited a very long time to interview this weeks guest.  But patience paid off, and I’m utterly sure this programme will blow, or at least open your mind just a little bit more. 

It’s about those tiny little creatures without whom this podcast would not exist, in the sense that so much of the food and drink we eat is dependent on this insect’s ability to pollinate plants.  

Mark Rogers, owner of Twinways Orchard, has immersed himself in the world of bees for years. Whilst I knew bees were important, and I knew they were being threatened, for a very long time I’ve wanted to speak to an expert about what exactly is going on and why we should be concerned. 

Mark will reveal parts of bees lives that sound like they belong to science fiction – and yet they’re happening all around us, without us noticing.    

For instance, I thought being Queen Bee was a nice gig.  It turns out she’s not the boss at all but the hive’s egg slave, being herded around by her inferiors. 

And did you know that honeybees are greedy vandals?  Give them half a chance and they will rip a hole in the bottom of a flower to get to the nectar, leaving nothing for other types of insect whose tongues were designed specifically for that plant and will pollinate it properly.  

And we haven’t got onto the figure-of-eight dance that bees do, and the amazing things it tells other bees, or how long bees can survive in the post. 

When you listen, I hope you learn as much as I did, and I hope that you will never want to spray your roses, or any other plant, again. 

Episode 42 Steven Lamb
River Cottage – Part Two

Welcome to the second part of my conversation with one of River Cottage’s linchpins.  He’s Steven Lamb, often fondly referred to as the ‘ham and cheese’ man, because he’s the author of the River Cottage handbooks on ‘Curing and Smoking’ as well as ‘Cheese and Dairy’.  

We’re turning back the clock now, to when Steven’s fascination for charcuterie and cured meats began… 

Episode 41 – Steven Lamb
River Cottage – Part One

If I say ‘River Cottage’ to you, what comes to mind?  Perhaps one of its campaigns: Fish Fight, or Chicken Out or War on Waste.   Or maybe you’ve got one of the River Cottage handbooks, diving deep into foodie topics, from cheese to charcuterie.  

That’s the striking thing about River Cottage and its team: the variety of what they do. What started as a docu-drama, following Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s attempts to set up his own smallholding 20 years ago, has now grown into a cookery and chefs’ school; three award-winning kitchens and the base for amazing banquet-style get-togethers.  

Steven Lamb has been part of that journey, pretty much from the beginning. He arrived as the team’s new media expert, helping to build its presence online. But nowadays he’s better known as the Cottage’s curing and smoking guru, as well as its expert on cheese and dairy.    

In this, the first part of our conversation, we’ll explore the evolution of River Cottage and Steven’s own career, leaving Big Brother behind to embrace hospitality ‘from a standing start’.   

Episode 40 Jethro Tennant
The Dorset Sea Salt Company

On a massive rock that juts out into the English Channel, there’s a young man who cleverly mimics the salt lakes of the Camargue.  Ok, what Jethro Tennant has created in the last two years is actually a mini version of these salt plains: carefully extracting the salt from the pristine water around Dorset’s Chesil Beach, and drying it in artificial heat which is powered by solar, wind and biomass energy.  

And in just 24 months, demand for his product – Dorset Sea Salt – is growing steadily, from discerning delicatessens, farm shops and restaurants to big names like Selfridges.  

Not bad for a start-up that began life with Jethro heaving jerry cans of sea water from the beach to his parent’s house, and experimenting with the evaporation process on his mum’s hob… for hours, and hours. (Don’t mention the gas bill!) 

Perhaps the most intriguing thing is what triggered Jethro’s fascination for sea salt in the first place.  I doubt if you’ll guess. You’ll just have to listen to find out. 

Episode 21 Alex Aitken
The Jetty and Michelin star chef

Imagine. You’re about to open your first restaurant to the public. Your wife, who’s front of house, is 8 ½ months pregnant. You’re the chef –and you’ve never cooked professionally before. But you buy a couple of recipe books and some chef whites, and off you go. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Yet this is what Alex Aitken did in 1983.

It was the start of a Michelin-starred career which has evolved in incredible ways and is still going strong. Today, Alex is spreading his love of locally sourced food – whether foraged, fished or farmed –through a growing number of award-winning restaurants, carrying ‘The Jetty’ name.  

As you will hear, his passion for sourcing food sustainably harks back to his teenage years as a deck hand on North Sea trawlers. He’s got hair-raising tales of mistaking World War II mines for bumper catches… and a mischievous tale about why he likes fiddling with the music volume while you’re eating your meal in his hotel restaurants. It’s only a bit of fun… Enjoy